After a decade at 952 Queen St W, the Museum Of Contemporary Canadian Art is temporarily closing its doors to move into an industrial heritage building that is currently being restored. The Tower Automotive Building on Sterling Street, right in the Lower Junction neighbourhood, originally opened in 1919 as a manufacturing plant that supplied the Allies in World War II with essentials such as helmets and bullets. The iconic building will offer a permanent home to the new MOCCA, doubling its size, and adding a café, retail shop, as well as community gathering areas, both indoors and out. David Liss, Artistic Director and Curator of the museum, announced on the gallery’s website that they are already working on the inaugural exhibition for early 2017.
In the meantime, the MOCCA will host pop-up art exhibitions across the city, in line with the museum’s funky and accessible approach to bringing Canadian art to the public. Fret not, there are still a few dats left to check out the last exhibition until the museum embarks on the exciting journey westwards on Aug 23. With the thrifty price tag of “FREE” (suggested donation $5), why wouldn’t you?
Montreal artist Dean Baldwin’s “Chalet” gets assembled at each new location, yet never loses its lived-in feel. A fully functional kitchen beckons visitors to a closer inspection of the incredibly detailed collection of cottage necessities, such as wool socks, Trivial Pursuit, and matches, some sourced from cities and towns where “Chalet” has been on display. Soak it all up in one of the inviting antique wooden chairs throughout the one-room cottage. While the chairs are part of the exhibit, they also offer an interactive connection between art and viewer.
Through the “Chalet”, one enters the main room where “Ship in a Bottle”, a 1952 Nordic folkboat, seems to be capsizing into the concrete floor, conveying a sense of immediacy and motion. The sailboat is commanding from afar and, like the “Chalet”, stockpiled with the essentials of a long voyage at sea, from wine to sardines, all suspended from strings or securely fastened. One can spend hours documenting the detailed interior, while listening to the weather forecast on a short wave radio.
Both of Baldwin’s installations encourage the viewer to zoom in and out to find more art minutia, like a treasure hunt that stimulates the senses and thus entices reflection. To me, it symbolizes the importance of context and how a message can be altered by manipulating the perspective.
Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s satirical video “Drama Queens” gives life to famous 20th century sculptures that find themselves on stage, performing to an immobile audience, in contrast to people walking around an art gallery while admiring the carefully placed sculptures. Their interactions are comical, touching and intriguing. Cliques are formed and polarizing opinions clash, thereby poignantly mirroring real life, as art often does. I wonder whether future art exhibits will also feel a bit confused by the location of their new home that will include rotating exhibits from MOCCA’s permanent collection of 400 pieces.
It all wraps up on August 23 at 5pm, with a “See You Soon” party (rather than “Goodbye”, as MOCCA staff insisted on clarifying) to which you are all cordially invited, just BYOB and some food to be shared. In line with Baldwin’s exhibition, 21 champagne bottles will be sabered, an adaptation of the 21 gun salute, as an homage to MOCCA’s journey to Sterling street. Check out the exhibits, come to the party, and tell your friends about the time when MOCCA used to live on Queen Street.