Grounding

Public Site-Based Installation

As the economy of Southern Ontario evolves in the 21st century, the family farm is quickly disappearing, giving way to large scale industrial farming conglomerates. Remnants these past agrarian operations now dot the countryside, a landscape of agricultural ruins. Beside countless wooden barns, crumbling amidst fallow fields, concrete silos stand as silent witnesses. This experimental installation took place on a farm property near Kitchener, Ontario on the site of a barn previously burned by lightning. Our intention was to create an intervention that would maintain the profound emptiness and strangeness of this “terrain vague” while occupying the territory with a construction that would amplify its expectant, imprecise and fluctuating nature.


Two hundred columns of salvaged tar-soaked telephone poles were brought to the site and stacked two high to form a forest within the space of the old barn. A solid within the void. One old silo foundation, now the serendipitous home of a flowering tree, was mirrored by a low mound of gravel in a circular space carved from the ‘forest’ in front of it. Salvaged 4' diameter sewer tiles were laid on an inclined tressle beside the tall silo and framed a view out to the vastness of the field beyond.


Finally, set among the disappearing row patterns of old cornfi elds was a Da-Vinci inspired winged figure, done in collaboration with a fellow sculptor; a scarecrow created from salvaged steel, somewhat reminiscent of the ambiguous rusting farm implements nearby and poised for flight. Visitors were invited to arrive at dusk and wonder through the spaces of varying containment and release. As night fell, the place took on a different aura as strategically placed coloured lights once again altered one’s perception while amplifying the strange magic of the site.



Typology Public Site-Based Installation
date 1997
location Kitchener, ON
scale 1,000 sf / 192 sm
scope Conception, construction and exhibition of temporary site-based installation

Team

Team member role Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov, Abel Gill