Vong Phaonphanit and Claire Oboussier

Weir

2011

Toronto, Canada

Finalist for Pier 27 Art Commission

© Phaophanit and Oboussier Studio 2011

With Public Art Management (PAM)

The title of the work Weir makes oblique visual reference to the ancient fishing weirs from which Toronto purportedly derived its name (‘Tkaronto’ ‘where there are trees standing in the water’). The image of a weir is also pertinent in that it conveys the idea of flux but flux that has been partially slowed, gently impeded, still allowing flow but a flow that renders a river navigable.

A Vast Urban Grove/Mirage

Conceived in direct response to the contours of the cityscape that is its canvas Weir takes the form of an undulating field of reflective surfaces, refracting and fragmenting the surroundings, enabling the viewer to see them in different and less structured ways. Forming a meandering grove that snakes from city side to waterside and back Weir would trace this trajectory and instil it with a sense of connectivity and of place.

Weir’s specific design is conceived directly to harness existing elements of the urban landscape such as the lake, the waterfront, the architectural context and the transitional promenade from city to lake. It would introduce a play of levels and vistas as well as the experience of journey: the viewer would be able to traverse and explore Weir; there will be internal open spaces, ‘clearings’ created within its mass. We are calling the individual sculptural elements ‘reed columns’ which captures both their urban and aquatic imagery. They are formally reminiscent of reeds: elegant and slender, of varying heights, with a graceful tapered apex.

The linear profile of Weir has been conceived from the contours of a hand-traced line of the Scarborough Bluffs. The topographical contours will not be obvious or overstated but rather something the viewer may choose to discover and consider as they navigate the space. This connects the piece to the materiality of place and to history without making it prescriptive.

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