It’s the way of the world, it would seem. Like every major city around the globe, Toronto has its parking problems. Streets in the downtown core simply don’t have enough space for all the vehicles, and so of course both municipal and private lots do big business.
Back in the early 1980s, the problem became ever-so slightly worse when a small private lot in the city’s west end that had been in operation since 1938 was closed. The little slice of urban land was not to be built upon with new housing or retail establishments, however. From mundane parking lot, it was transformed into a specialized kind of garden. The Toronto Sculpture Garden (TSG), to be exact.
In 2011 on the thirtieth anniversary of its advent, the TSG was, fittingly, filled with automobiles. Well, sort of. Jed Lind (b. 1978), a Canadian sculptor living and working in Los Angeles, has mounted Gold, Silver & Lead, a tall, Brancusi-like column comprising seven sculptural automobiles stacked one atop the other. It’s a work modeled after the famous 1979 model of the Honda Civic, a car designed to be an alternative to the big, gas-guzzling vehicles on the road at the time, and which was rather expected to all but rescue Western society from the clutches of expensive Mid East oil.
Lind’s interpretation of these vehicles is aesthetically minimalistic, visually referencing only the passenger section. Stacked one atop the other, roof to roof, floor to floor, that reference comes apart at the proverbial seams as the sculpture rises up and simultaneously representationally disintegrates. At the very top, at the crowning seventh iteration of Gold, Silver & Lead’s structure, it is all but absented, become just the merest physical trace of the more entire, recognizable forms stacked below.
Here we have it, then. Lind would remind us that things change; the decay of entropy, however we might try to fight it, is the inescapable norm on this, our planet (and everywhere else in our universe, for that matter). It’s not like we didn’t already know that, certainly, but Lind addresses the theme with great aesthetic intelligence and, yes, much beauty. Like a kind of mirror to the ever-changing, ever-reinvented urban space that surrounds it on all sides, Gold, Silver & Lead cleverly reflects on the transient impermanence of things, and the ever-evolving imperatives of the new as it indiscriminately acts upon technologies, communities and places, and the people that make up the one and utilize the other. All that being said, Lind’s column too will shortly succumb to the same pressures and be itself displaced courtesy the imperatives of an institutional mandate that demands the TSG reinvent itself time and again.
Because it’s the way of that world.
By Gil McElroy