Could the West Toronto Railpath become more than just a way to get from point A to point B? That’s what Junction Triangle residents Gelareh Saadatpajouh and Victoria Taylor asked themselves when they founded ====\\DeRAIL Platform for Art and Architecture two years ago.
“We wanted to understand the potential of this linear landscape beyond that three metre strip of asphalt,” Taylor says.
The West Toronto Railpath was launched in 2009 as a community-led initiative (now Friends of West Toronto Railpath), and runs from Cariboo Avenue in The Junction down to Dundas Street West, along a retired railway corridor established in the mid 1800s. The second phase of the Railpath project is currently in planning, and would bring the bike and pedestrian trail another 2km southeast down to Strachan Avenue (just a few steps away from TAS’s future project at 2 Tecumseth Street).
Saadatpajouh and Taylor founded ====\\DeRAIL two years ago as a way to bring socially-engaged public art projects to the Railpath. Their most recent project, Pause Platforms, was unveiled as part of September’s Nuit Blanche, with two choreographed dance performances at dusk and dawn.
The Platforms themselves are large circular spaces constructed on top of three decommissioned wells along the Railpath.
“They mark a legacy of industrial use that would have otherwise just disappeared from memory,” says Saadatpajouh.
A permanent installation, the Platforms can now be used however the public sees fit.
“These projects encourage residents to take possession of their city and neighbourhood,” Saadatpajouh says. “Literally two days after they were built, there was a woman walking by… she said to us, “guys, shoes off please, I do yoga there.” She feels like she owns this space, and that’s a great feeling.”
====\\DeRAIL is currently compiling a report on the impact of the Pause Platforms, and looking into ideas for their 2018 project.
“We’re building on this new idea of what public art can be—activating a landscape, and seeing what comes from that.”
TAS is a proud partner of ====\\DeRAIL, contributing funding to help shape public projects in Toronto. For more details on ====\\DeRAIL, visit their website, or follow through Instagram for upcoming project information.
Image Credits: Martin Helmut Reis for ====\\DeRAIL Platform for Art + Architecture