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Nuit Blanche is getting a head start at the intersection of Queen and University.
“We’re getting a lot of curiosity about it. It’s mostly ‘Who is that guy? And who is the guy stacking things on this head?’” said Sabrina Russo, director of the Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art.
That was her response when the Star called to ask about the head-turning, head-stacking installation piece called Life’s Little Worries of Sir Adam Beck, by Tatzu Nishi, which will be up for the next month as part of Nuit Blanche Toronto.
Nishi’s creation is a tall column of appliances and household goods — a desk, a tire and much more — perched atop the statue that’s been at the intersection since 1934 of Beck, a politician who created the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario.
The Japanese artist’s practice includes these themed pieces, in which he places a column of items onto the noggins of statues — although he has included himself as a subject.
“Sometime it’s actual humans, not just sculptures, but this is the first time it’s been installed in a fixed way,” explains Russo. “They’ve always been strung up on a crane for a photograph, so he was a little nervous. That was a big challenge.”
The artist got some attention in New York City for building an entire elevated living room around a statue of Christopher Columbus in 2012. For his first piece in Canada, the artist wandered around Toronto and chose things he felt had significance, including a Maple Leafs jersey, Raptors gear, a safe and even a photocopier.
“He wanders, he watches, he asks a lot of questions and, from the things that he thinks are important to Toronto, he makes selections,” she says. “They are all found objects.”
The work has been up since Tuesday and will remain there through the all-night Nuit Blanche festival on Sept. 30.
So far the reaction has shed some light on Beck, as well as Emanuel Hahn, who sculpted the original statue and has pieces all over the city, and Nishi, who has added some whimsy to one of the city’s great thoroughfares.
Raju Mudhar is a Toronto-based reporter covering popular culture at the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @rajumudhar