This building is slated to be demolished. The first development notice went up in 2014, outlining a plan to replace the site with a high-rise condominium complex. In the eight years since, the plans have evolved and the demolition — ever pending — has been delayed. Perhaps indefinitely. Perhaps for a few months. In the meantime, memories remain. The walls, windows, rugs, floors, light switches and layers of paint bear the palimpsest of a century. These are the scenes captured in photography.
In the early 20th century, this site was an industrial setting, where electrical appliances were manufactured. By the 1990s, artist studios and small, independent businesses carved out a new territory, and were eventually joined by offices and a data centre, with car dealerships and apartment towers as their neighbours. Walls were covered in stucco, floorplans were redrawn, windows and floors were replaced, but the bones remain. According to the City of Toronto’s Planning department, “This site was not deemed to have any historical value.” It is a calculus that erases the cultural life behind the bricks — the affordable, creative spaces that breathe life into the building and the city beyond. At 7 Labatt and across Toronto, this heritage, history and culture is disappearing into oblivion. But for now, the building remembers.
In a space where erasure is on the horizon, the sense of fragility is palpable. In lieu of a traditional gallery setting, where works of fine art are framed and displayed on white walls, the exhibition takes an unconventional form, recognizing the vulnerability of its site — and subject — via an ephemeral medium. These fleeting, vulnerable images are displayed in different scales and settings, creating a dialogue with the building and its uncertain future. There is no permanence through photography, no immortality through art. In a few days, this will all be gone forever.
Text by Stefan Novakovic, Architecture Critic
DISPLACE (solo show), 2023
Curated by Nicole Charles and Justin Pape
Installation views, Project 107 Gallery, Toronto ON Canada
Newsprints made with toner in various sizes mounted on wood with rare-earth magnets. Structures constructed with repurposed wood and screws used previously in the building. Letraset numbers transferred to wood.
Audio by artist Justin Pape, composed of field recordings of the building.
Limited edition of 8 copies + 1AP
10 x 13 inches, 52 Pages
Newsprint, French Fold, Gate folds and Repurposed Chipboard Cover
Side Sewn Binding + Elastic
Published by Another Earth
Print supported by Gas Company Inc.
Research, sketchbook, installation. Historial material about 7 Labatt Ave was found through Toronto Archives and the Toronto Public Library. The research and installation was made in collaboration with artist and curator of Project 107 Gallery, Justin Pape.