General, Places

A visit to the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery / University of Toronto Art Centre

The other day I was rushing through the UC Quad, something I do on the regular, when I did something out of the regular, I stopped to read the sign that I usually side-step to avoid. This sign lives outside of The UTAC. The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery / University of Toronto Art Centre is one of those places that I’ve been promising myself I’d visit, but could never quite find the time to do so. The sign drew me in with its poster-board charm, and I decided to abandon my readings for an hour and finally make good on my promise.

photo of the UC tower taken from outside the art centre, facing the quad

The Art Centre calls the north wing of UC home, and is currently housing one ongoing exhibit The Art of Devotion, a collection of Byzantine and Post Byzantine christian icons, and two temporary ones: On Location and Rocks, Stones, and Dust.

On Location explores Toronto’s ever-changing landscape through photography, film, and multimedia, and is on until November 14th. I truly enjoyed Bill Varzan’s Yonge Street Walk, a monumental suite of 163 photos documenting the Yonge Street of the late 1960s from the waterfront tothe very north. It left me pondering how much history each sidewalk stone holds, and what Torontonians will think of our Yonge Street forty years from now.

photo of a long wall covered with almost 200 8 x 11 inch photographs

It took Vazan over 11 hours to document the entirety of Yonge street, something we can easily replicate now with a quick visit Google Maps.

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two double exposure photographs taken of Toronto landscapes a retro TV set playing a video of the toronto landscapea photo of backyards in Toronto, shaped into a tombstone like shape with an embossed "H"

 

Rocks, Stones, and Dust is a contemporary exhibit exploring “rocks and their relations”, or in more words, the role that rocks play in human culture. I was absolutely moved by this exhibit, and was surprised on how such seemingly inanimate objects could convey such intense emotions. It is on until December 18th.

rocks line the wall, each of which has a tag labelled with the coordinates of where it was found rocks line the wall, each of which has a tag labelled with the coordinates of where it was found

 

A bright and unsettling assortment of skulls, rock bowls, and crystals A bright and unsettling assortment of skulls, rock bowls, and crystalsan egyptian style bust of a cat made of marble

 

a blurry photo of a rock situated in the corner of a room

Susanne Kriemann’s Untitled (nuclear) was created by exposing a sensitive medium to a radioactive piece of gadolinite.

My favourite piece of the exhibit, and truly my favourite piece in the Art Centre overall was Swallow all the Brain, an installation by Jason de Hann which explores our use of energy and fossil fuels, and the decay that comes along with it. Six fossils sit perched on top of a black humidifier, the cool mist of which slowly breaks down each fossil, and carries its remains into the air. This installation was visually stunning, and left me reflecting on my own energy use and relationship with the environment.

DSC07470 upclose photo of a fossil being destroyed with humidity

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the UC Branch of UTAC, and I’ve promised myself to take a stroll through its collection whenever I have the chance. The two branches of the UTAC are located just steps apart, the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery lives in Hart House and the other in UC. The UTAC is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm – 5pm and from 12pm-8pm on Wednesdays. Admission is always free.