The False Artistic Installations That Denounce the Deterioration of Toronto

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    The inhabitants of Toronto, the largest city in Canada, went to the polls on October 24th. As Mayor John Tory of the Conservative Party won a third term in office, a satirical art project is adding a special flavor to the city. The initiative, called AusterityTO, seeks to highlight the poor state of various urban infrastructures and points to Tory as the main culprit.

    A broken drinking fountain -near the city hall- has been displaying a small plaque for a few weeks indicating that it is a piece named Urinary, a “sculpture made of concrete, steel and rust.” His actor”? None other than John Tory. The creators of the project have integrated 14 faulty or problematic infrastructures and have drawn up a map to easily locate them. “Each work was painstakingly crafted by the artist, as a meditation on the nature of public services, decadence and austerity,” says the AusterityTO website.

    Envisioning another reality

    James McLeod, a former journalist, and Tom Ruhig, a design student, decided to launch this initiative -which intertwines humor and artistic sense- to show the degree of responsibility they consider Tory to have in this deterioration. “We envision another reality where John Tory is not only the mayor of Toronto, but also an artist with a vision to install his work throughout the city,” Ruhig told CBC.

    The project has aroused great interest on social networks. Even several Torontonians suggest adding other “works” to the catalogue. McLeod and Ruhig have pointed out that AusterityTO is a way for people to talk about current urban problems. A street with potholes and wall damage is also accompanied by a plaque. The “installation” is called the Temple of Speed: a “gift from the artist [Mayor Tory] exhibited as part of a continuing series.”

    “General” good condition of the city

    However, public criticism and the noise generated by the AusterityTO project caused Tory’s office to issue a statement. In the document, he emphasized the priority accorded to services and the “general” good condition of the city. Tory has been mayor of Toronto since October 2014. He campaigned against Rob Ford, who was seeking re-election despite a long list of scandals (crack pipes, drunkenness, racism, physical attacks, among others). However, Ford was replaced as a candidate by his brother Doug a few weeks before the election due to health problems. He passed away in March 2016 from abdominal cancer. Doug Ford is currently the premier of the province of Ontario.

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