Winnipeg-based artist Sarah Anne Johnson uses photography to explore communal experiences, taking a playful yet considered approach to the pursuit of the utopian. This commissioned mural, first unveiled for the 2015 Festival, transforms a grey city block into an enchanted place. Nestled between towering buildings that hover near Lake Ontario, Best Beach echoes the natural landscape that lies just beyond the city’s edge. This photographic composite of Toronto Island’s south shore is imbued with colour, both digitally and by hand, celebrating the landscape while underscoring a reliance on human intervention and spectacle.
Mounted on a block-long building at the foot of Bay Street, Best Beach is positioned at a busy location near the gateway to the islands, yet is visibly closed off from it. Trees on either side of the frame serve as a proscenium, while shadowy figures are gathered in the foreground. These shadows allude not only to an audience witnessing the dramatic scene, but also to spectators on the street who are being enticed to join them at the beach. Exploring the space between reality and fiction, experience and desire, Johnson captures the promise of a local landscape and transforms it into an idyllic place that seems very far from the city.
Supported by Partners in Art and StreetARToronto, in partnership with Westin Harbour Castle