Great Lake/Small City

Vid Ingelevics

On August 16, 1894, it was reported that more than 20,000 citizens of Buffalo, New York, saw a highly detailed “mirage” of the city of Toronto floating in the air above Lake Ontario. While this atmospherically based illusion soon dissipated, never to be seen with such clarity again, faint echoes of this moment still appear from time to time as one drives along the Queen Elizabeth Way highway along the lake’s south shore, particularly when the air is clear in the spring and fall.

This perception of the city as a tiny visual element suspended precariously between an expansive sky and a vast body of water compelled Toronto-based artist Vid Ingelevics to first photograph the skyline in 2002, from the opposite shore of Lake Ontario near St. Catharines. Several years later, he discovered a high point of land to the north of the city that happened to be almost exactly the same distance from the city centre as the original south shore vantage point—approximately 50 kilometres. Over the last two years, he has regularly returned to the land and lake viewpoints to capture the city, taking both photographs and video using the location of the CN Tower to ensure that the image within his viewfinder was similarly composed each time.

In downtown Toronto at Richmond-Adelaide Centre, Great Lake/Small City II (2015 – 17) is positioned at the figurative epicentre of the artwork itself. Ingelevics aims to remind viewers of Toronto’s longtime amnesia regarding its fortunate location as a lakeside city, while pointing to its voracious appetite for agricultural land to accommodate ever-sprawling suburbs. Transitioning from still landscapes shot from the north to moving images taken from the south, the work conveys an evocative environmental metaphor as the countryside, suburbs, and eventually the tallest buildings in the city appear to slowly sink underwater.

Presented in partnership with Public Art Management

Supported by Oxford Properties

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