[Monthly community arts event Long Winter recently signed me on to provide their website with blog content, so for the past week or so I’ve been keeping busy getting in touch with artists set to feature on their December 13 program. (Here’s my review of last month’s instalment and the shifted brand focus the series has adopted for this season.) Below is a chunk of the first of my Long Winter blog contributions: an interview I conducted with Andreas Buchwaldt, an artist who’s work usually focuses on architectural structure but is adapting his style to respond to the music that has been a constant at the monthly events with a wood-and-cardboard mobile accordion requiring the cooperation of three people to pump and play it.. You can read the full Q&A here.]
Tom Beedham: For the most part architecture weighs pretty heavy in your work – you’ve got blueprints, housing frames, lots of pieces that look like skeletons of structures that we’re used to seeing. How do you arrive at your subjects?
Andreas Buchwaldt: A lot of it’s architecturally based. So starting with blueprints or floor plans and it’s also exploring materials like Expandex and weird stretchy materials. I think I’m just trying to reimagine different ways of building structures you’d see in the everyday. I’m trying to imagine what a building would look like if it were made out of something completely different and how that material could change the way it functions – like how it would resist entropy. When a building crumbles because it gets old and worn out, if it was made out of rubber, what would happen? I’m just kind of posing those questions.
A lot of the most recent stuff is just from coming to Toronto. Condo towers just kind of crept into my art and the downtown core. It’s just kind of a general view of the skyline, just to try and take in all of the city at once. And then something we don’t have in Saskatoon – well we do have it but it’s predominate here, especially in the art scene – are all of these two-floor business-on-the-bottom/someone-lives-upstairs sort of things. That way of living – that two-storey, split purpose architecture – was just something that was kind of new to me.
TB: How about the blueprint pieces? Are you focusing on specific buildings?
AB: I found them online. I didn’t really feel like 3-D modeling my own things. But I like generalized architecture. Something that’s not too specific, but suggests a whole neighbourhood could be represented. Specifics get into the history of a certain building; I’m interested in the history of the city.
TB: What I take away from your pieces are these commentaries on space and perception that are delivered as kind of cheeky, mechanical distortions of architecture and how our structured realities are put together. Is there an intended humour to your work?
AB: Absolutely. I haven’t thoroughly studied the way Toronto’s been designed and constructed, but from what I can see just walking down the street, I think it’s incredibly idiotic the way things are torn down and then we build something up. It doesn’t solve the problem. Every time I see a new project being built in Toronto I’m never happy. It’s always a disaster. Like right behind you. Right behind my studio is this beautiful park that people would walk their dogs in, and now the space is being filled by… not condos, but these townhouse things. And now there’s nowhere in this area that’s worth hanging out at. I have to go to Trinity Bellwoods to go drink a beer with my friends in the park. There’s nowhere here to do that. This city is not well planned.
TB: How do you approach a topic like gentrification?
AB: That’s totally an interesting topic. I’m having to understand that as an artist, you’re like a foot soldier for gentrification whether you like it or not. You can say you’re against it, but you’re helping to gentrify an area. I think the problem is just taking up space with new gentrification. Like repurposing the street for Starbucks: whatever. But I think when you take new land – like the precious land that we have in Toronto – and then do something to propagate more of that shit just drives me crazy. [Read the rest over at torontolongwinter.com]