Planet Storage: Holding Patterns

If you’re one of the thousands of Torontonians with belongings gathering dust in storage, you probably don’t see a lot of beauty in them. Art Spin plans to turn that perception on its head with a new art installation housed in a series of storage lockers.

Walking down the halls of the Planet Storage building, orange corrugated metal doors lining both sides, this looks like your average storage spot: a place for all the stuff that doesn’t fit in your tiny apartment. That is, until you turn a corner and find one of the doors rolled up, large photographs lining the inner walls, and an interview with the subject blaring from a set of speakers.

This is Holding Patterns, a free exhibition running from October 11 – 21 at 1655 Dupont St., in which 20 unused storage lockers are transformed, each by a different artist, into a site-specific installation.

“We often have storage units when we’re in a state of transition,” says Layne Hinton, Art Spin’s Co-Curator. “There’s also an interesting history between artists and their storage spaces. Many artists have used storage lockers as studio space, and there are a lot of artists who keep materials in a locker.”

For the past nine years, Art Spin has been activating decommissioned public spaces to use as pop-up gallery venues all over the city.

“Our interest as curators has always involved using temporary spaces and sites in transition, but we are now more than ever seeing other artists and organizations do the same out of sheer necessity,” Hinton says. “Many artists in the exhibition have experienced this space-crunch first-hand, and are interested in exploring these issues through their practice.”

The idea for this show came to Hinton and her Co-Curator Rui Pimenta back in 2010, when they were hosting a large-scale sculpture show in the same building’s downstairs space, now home to FreshBooks. The timing wasn’t right back then, but when Art Spin discovered TAS had acquired the Planet Storage building about a year ago, they were eager to make the project a reality.

Of the 20 lockers scattered across the site (visitors get a guide to help them through this interactive maze), 15 showcase the work of independent artists chosen by Art Spin, and the remaining five are curated by a number of partnering art organizations. These include Bunker 2, a nomadic gallery space based inside a roving shipping container; the South Asian Visual Arts Centre, a Canadian and artist-run centre supporting diversity in art; and Tangled Art + Disability, a charity dedicated to promoting opportunities for artists with disabilities.

“It’s important to us that we work with other galleries that don’t have fixed space, as well as with marginalized artists who don’t always have a platform for their work,” adds Hinton.

Some of the highlights of the show include Alexandra Hong‘s work zau naan (走難), an audio piece interviewing her parents who fled Vietnam, leaving all of their belongings behind; Lejb Pilanski & Sean Wainsteim‘s Zei Gezunt // Keep Well, a collaboration between the artist and his 98-year old grandfather exploring the transformation of found objects; and the third act of Kristina Guison‘s ​multi-stage project Weather to Store, a performance work in which she moves her objects into a storage locker and performs the laborious process of weathering them artificially live for her audience.

“There’s a lot of play with memory, history, objects and material culture,” Hinton says. “I’m interested to see how people rethink their own experience with storage lockers. Everyone can relate to it in some way.”

As for the rest of the occupied units at Planet Storage? Everything surrounding the art installations themselves will be business as usual.

“I like that people might be unloading winter tires or something,” Hinton laughs. “And visitors will have to question whether that’s art or not.”