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Artists interpret CanLit at Word on the Street Toronto

For Sunday’s 25th-anniversary celebration, Word on the Street Toronto is planning a slew of new initiatives, including a beer garden and a climbing wall. One of the more intriguing additions is the Sculpting New Reads Tent, featuring art installations inspired by recently published Canadian books.

WOTS director Heather Kanabe approached creative agency and art house Labspace to curate the one-day show. Labspace co-directors John Loerchner and Laura Mendes, who have experience in large-scale community art projects, researched potential artists who could produce work based on five books selected by Kanabe. “We looked for similar themes in their practices,” says Mendes. Each artist was given a 10′ by 10′ footprint and the independence to create what they wanted in the space, although Mendes was pleasantly surprised by the overall interactivity of the installations. “In some ways it’s similar to how you approach novels,” she says. “You dig deep and take your time to explore the characters.”

For Nick Cutter’s The Troop (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster), a horror novel about boy scouts alone on an uninhabited island, Labspace selected artist Mark Prier, who uses found wilderness materials to examine issues surrounding ecology, culture, and survival. Artist Layne Hinton, who took on another dark psychological thriller, Russell Wangersky’s Walt (House of Anansi Press), coincidentally shares a rather unusual obsession with Wangersky’s disturbed protagonist: both collect found shopping lists. For her installation, Hinton is recreating Walt’s room using peepholes and her own shopping-list collection.

The other (less chilling) projects in the tent are Bambitchell’s interpretation of Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab (Doubleday Canada) by Shani Mootoo, Nicholas Crombach’s take on Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage (House of Anansi Press) by Kathleen Winter, and Felix Kalmenson on Quartet for the End of Time (Hamish Hamilton) by Johanna Skibsrud. All of the artists will be present at the tent throughout the day (schedule here), along with authors Wangersky and Mootoo.