The new collaboration by up and coming art punks Allied Construction Ltd and Davenham Estates Inc. has got the art world salivating like a bunch of Pavlov’s dogs in a doorbell factory. Located on the corner of St Clair and Avenue in downtown Toronto, the installation – entitled ‘Men at Work’ – is an absolute triumph.
Both emotionally stirring and beautiful at the same time, Men at Work features a group of adult males pretending to work on the creation of a new building. No detail has been spared by the artists; trucks full of supplies come and go, scaffolding has been erected around the shell of the ‘building’, signs have been put up to warn the spectators about the dangers of the site and it really does look like actual work is taking place. There is even a sign advertising a sales office complete with ‘Show Room’, claiming that finished apartments will be available from Summer 2010 from two million dollars.
Looking at Men at Work, one is filled with an immense feeling of satisfaction, of man as creator, as artist, as constructor. It is clear that the artists are saying, ‘Look at us! We’re creating! We’re constructing!’ and they do this by comparing their own vocations to those of their fellow creators. The assorted detritus scattered around the site show us that no act of creation is without its waste, and that art is not always as simple and clean as the galleries would have us believe, sometimes. Art can be messy.
And while the gloomy carapace of the unfinished building can take on a certain gloominess in its surroundings, the artists have added some wonderfully playful touches to the piece. Take, for example, the bright yellow hats worn by the ‘builders’, which brighten the mood as well as protect their wearers from any falling masonry.
Men at Work is a thrilling piece of art, both bold and fragile at the same time. In the several hours I stood watching it I felt a sense of awe at the creative power of mankind, and yet I was also compelled to fear how easily it could all be brought down, by the barbarians at our gates or an overtired crane operator.
Few things will prepare you for the tremendous piece of art that is Men at Work. I recommend that you go and see it. With daily showings until 2010, you have no excuse.
Men at Work by Allied Construction Ltd and Davenham Estate Inc, on display on the corner of Avenue and St. Clair, Toronto, until summer 2010. Price of admission: Free. Price of finished apartments: $2m to $8.5m (Penthouse). Prices include valet parking and personal elevators. For enquiries, please call Matthew on 416-555-6913. Post no bills.