Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities

Julia Krolik, Alejandro Cartagena, Owen Fernley


Through the photographs of Mexican artist Alejandro Cartagena and videos by Kingston, Ontario, art duo Julia Krolik & Owen Fernley, Toronto’s subway corridors are transformed with images addressing suburban transportation, development, and sustainability.

Cartagena’s images are shown on posters throughout Warden station, the penultimate stop on the eastern edge of the system. This massive station, with numerous bays and parking lots, serves as a primary destination for many suburban commuters. The artist’s series Carpoolers (2011–2012) portrays a different kind of commute, adopting a bird’s-eye view of construction workers and landscapers gathered together in the beds of pickup trucks. Travelling to the wealthy suburban communities outside of Monterrey, Mexico, that they build and maintain, the men lounge together, nestled among the tools and detritus of their professions. Another series by Cartagena, Suburbia Mexicana (2006–2010), focuses on the rise of poorer suburbs. Tiny cookie-cutter homes spread across the horizon, while families pose in front of these simple dwellings, proud of their new neighbourhoods.

Intersection (2015) is a series of videos by Krolik & Fernley, shown non-stop on five TTC LCD screens throughout Warden station and every five minutes at most other stations. Aerial views of suburban homes, roads, and parking lots are revealed with map-like precision, through the use of government orthophotos (permission granted by the Ministry of Natural Resources). The artists created a custom image processor to randomly sample images from an unidentified suburban region north of the GTA. Appearing as a triptych of changing images, this expanse transforms continuously as unnamed communities replace one another, details blurring into a seemingly never-ending suburban landscape.

Co-produced by PATTISON Onestop and Art for Commuters, with support from the Ontario Arts Council. A part of PATTISON’s Art in Transit program.

Curated by Sharon Switzer