toronto

Tadishi Kawamata

Mercer Union

Tadashi Kawamata’s outdoor installation at Documenta 8, with its stylized wooden scaffolding built in and around the bombed-out ruins of a Kassel church, made an impressive and poignant war monument. Its splintered boards and unsteady, ramshackle appearance recaptured a sense of one single, terrible moment of collapse under Allied bombing. The piece became a pathway back to that 45-year-old experience, underscoring the lingering impress of the war and its physical and emotional devastation. It took advantage of its own access to 20th-century history and to one of the sites of that history’s making.

Such historically impacted sites aren’t always available, and Kawamata’s new Toronto Project, 1989, raises the issue of what happens when contextually dependent work like his must make do with a more modestly signifying site. Certainly the artist shows no lack of energy in trying to maintain the

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