Where the Trees Speak is a participatory audiovisual installation for Nuit Blanche 2021 that depicts undulating body parts juxtaposed against the Rouge Park’s changing seasons, representing Scarborough’s migratory origins.
The exhibition connects the Rouge Park’s history and location as a metaphor for the changing demographics in Scarborough. With the theme of Nuit Blanche being the “Space Between Us”, the Rouge has quite literally been a transitional space. This is a concept that we explore in three ways:
Migration - The human history of the Rouge area goes back 10,000 years. From Palaeolithic nomadic hunters, the Iroquoian settlement of Ganatsekwyagon (Bead Hill) in the 1660s and the portage route named the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, the European exploration and farm settlements in the 1800s, to the current wave of Caribbean and Asian immigrants since the 1970s, the Rouge area has historically served as a space between point A and B along migratory paths. The transitory journeys of each era of Rouge inhabitants have created a human cycle of transformation that echoes the changing of the seasons.
Geography - Situated between east Scarborough and west Pickering, the Rouge Park is a space between two rapidly expanding areas of urban sprawl. As we observe wildlife increasingly encroach upon our suburban homes as a result of being nudged out of their own habitats, it begs the question, where will new migrants find accessible living moving forward? What does that mean for Scarborough’s diverse cultural identity?
Identity - Many first-generation Canadians grapple with their identity, being forced to navigate a space between the cultural traditions of their homelands and the cultural mosaic of Scarborough. Similarly, just as the Rouge that we have explored throughout childhood starts to become familiar, the seasonal changes cause enough erosion to reintroduce the unknown. Ultimately it is this lack of lasting familiarity that makes the Rouge an effective metaphor for first-generation identity in Scarborough.
Operated by the Ward Museum, Block by Block is a multi-year series of block party art exhibitions that uses oral history interviews and archival research to feature migrant stories of those living in Agincourt, Victoria Park, Regent Park, and Parkdale. As a young research/curator focussing on the Agincourt community, our team created Home, an art exhibition highlghting the stories of ten Agincourt residents from a diverse range of backgrounds.