Contacting Toronto: Under the Ground

Andrew Emond, Michael Cook

Contacting Toronto: Under this Ground focuses on the unseen spaces that exist below the streets of Toronto: our buried waterways and sewers. Until the last decade, these spaces were utterly invisible to most. Here, the works of two artists, Michael Cook and Andrew Emond, make the scope of Toronto’s sewers visible to the public for the first time.

Cook’s photographs, shown on subway station posters, represent a metaphorical and physical shining of light on this unseen layer of the city: First, the artist had to discover a way of entering each sewer; then, light had to be brought in so that the impressive physical spaces could be photographed. Cook’s work dispels the abstraction of the sewer network, which encloses old waterways and follows their courses, shaping the possibilities of the built form above.

Emond has focused on underground infrastructures beneath the cities of Montreal and Toronto, turning here to three of Toronto’s sewers. Shown on TTC LCD screens, his stop-motion animations lead the viewer through the tunnels, highlighting their geometric features and the buried creeks and rivers that flow through them.

The Toronto subway system is the most common place where people come in contact with the city’s underground. It offers a perfect location for this project, allowing viewers to reflect on a layer of the city to which we are all connected, yet rarely have the opportunity to see. 

-Sharon Switzer, Exhibition Curator

May 1 – 8  LCD screens at Bloor (N & S platforms), St Andrews  (S platform), Dundas (S platform) are dedicated to Emond's animation.

Co-produced by Pattison Onestop and Art for Commuters with support from the Ontario Arts Council