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Scotiabank Nuit Blanche
Toronto Canada 2013
[Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2006 to 2013]

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Free Land, 2013 [Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid]

Maggie Groat - St. Catharines, Canada

Free Land, 2013

60 - Simcoe Park, 270 Front Street West

FREE LAND activates the marginalized green space of Simcoe Park as a site for temporary occupation and collective intervention through the excavation and dispersal of public soil. The park is located along what was once the original shoreline of Lake Ontario, and aptly named for John Graves Simcoe, one of the major developers of early Canada. The built environs of the park resemble nothing of its indigenous roots, and its recent history is one of landfill, concrete and urban development. FREE LAND wonders: What are the implications of relocating and repurposing land? How do the lasting impacts of settler-colonialism and associated attitudes surrounding land use and the commodification of natural resources affect the places we live? Are civic spaces really ours?

From sunset to sunrise, a hole will be dug in this small city park and what is uncovered will be made available for relocation and repurposing. Taking away small parcels of this liberated soil, participants are entrusted with the removed land and agree to become the stewards of both its history and future potentiality. The resulting vacant space in the ground will ultimately be filled with 'new' purchased soil, rendering the marks of this gesture invisible, as the traces of it live on elsewhere.

Maggie Groat works in a variety of media including sculpture, collage, site-specific interventions and field studies. Forming an ongoing research-based practice, Groat's work explores studies for possible futures, the interdisciplinary potential of artistic envisioning, salvage practices, and relationships and reconnections to place and ancient knowledge systems from an Indigenous perspective. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Guelph (2010).

Toronto Culture / Scotiabank