As insatiable and compulsive collectors of found photographs and keen observers of sociological patterns, both Dutch artist and designer Erik Kessels and French multimedia artist Thomas Mailaender take the absurd and ridiculous very seriously. Joining forces for this collaborative project, they draw from the photographic archives of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) to activate their constructed urban playscape.
Play Public (2021)—a part of The Bentway’s Playing in Public season—integrates a quirky selection of these archival images, spanning the 1950s through the 1980s, onto large wooden structures suggestive of the remains of a fairground site, with various components arranged like a parkour course. Neighbouring The Bentway, the CNE is a longstanding late-summer staple in Toronto (unfortunately cancelled for a second year due to COVID-19), and its midway of games, rides, and attractions remains one of its most popular features. The installation reinvigorates the idiosyncratic images, bringing this past back to life in a contemporary environment.
Set within Canoe Landing, Kessels and Mailaender’s intervention is proximate to schools, playgrounds, a community centre, and vertical urban neighbourhoods where thousands of people live and work. While the pandemic has altered lives and cities, it has further highlighted the importance of public space as a site for play and well-being.
Explore Play Public
Click and drag to look around the space, click on the circular arrows throughout the space to move around, and use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out.
About the Artists
Thomas Mailaender (born 1979) is a French multimedia artist living and working between Paris and Marseille. Known for his use of a wide range of techniques including ceramic, photography, collage, and installation, he employs diverse materials, often re-appropriating images from the internet or his own huge archive. One of Mailaender’s attributes is his ingenuity and ability to conceive curious and creative exhibitions using everyday materials and his curated shows teem with humour and originality.
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Erik Kessels is a Dutch artist, designer, and curator with great interest in photography. Kessels is since 1996 Creative Partner of communications agency KesselsKramer in Amsterdam and London. As an artist and curator Kessels has published over 75 books of his ‘re-appropriated’ images and has written the international bestseller Failed It!
Kessels made and curated exhibitions such as Loving Your Pictures, Mother Nature, 24HRS in Photos, Album Beauty, Unfinished Father and GroupShow. His mid-career retrospective was shown in Turin, Düsseldorf, Budapest and he exhibited this year in the SFMOMA. He was called “a visual sorcerer” by Time Magazine and a “Modern Anthropologist” by Voque (Italia).
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- Dream Street by The Street Society
- Walk Walk Dance by Daily tous les jours
- Big Red by Assemble
- Double Dribble by Esmaa Mohamoud
- Nil:Nil by Studio F Minus
- Play Public by Thomas Mailaender & Erik Kessels
- Jax by Pierre Poussin
- Midsummer Mix Vol.1 by Nelson Wu & biosphere
- Find Jimmy! by Kris Piotrowski
- Before They’re Gone by Droqen
- A Serpent Slumbers by Allison Cole
- Dance Anatomy by Alicia Payne
- The Garrison and the Gardiner by Kaelan Doyle Myerscough
- Secret Landscape by Diana Andrea Guzmán Valencia
Twelve locations throughout the Play Path and neighbouring spaces
- The Bentway
- Fort York National Historic Site
- Garrison Crossing
- The Bentway Studio & Canoe Landing Community Recreation Centre
- Canoe Landing Park
- Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre
As an organization dedicated to the creation of shared and inclusive public space, we acknowledge that our work takes place on the treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit and the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Métis, and many other Indigenous nations.
Tkaronto, “the place in the water where the trees are standing”, is now home to many diverse Indigenous people. We recognize them as the past, present and future caretakers of this land. We would like to pay our respects to all who have gathered and will continue to gather in this place. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work together to care for The Bentway lands and act as stewards of the space.
- 511 Bathurst (at Fort York Blvd)
- 509 Harbourfront (at Fleet St.)
- 121 Fort York-Esplanade at Gzowski Blvd (westbound) or Bastion St (eastbound)
Use Bike Share Toronto’s System Map or download PBSC Urban Solutions or Transit app to locate stations and plan your route with real-time bike and station availability. Closest stations to The Bentway: Fort York Blvd/Garrison Rd, Fort York Blvd. (in front of Fort York Visitor Centre), Strachan Ave/Princes’ Blvd, Fort York Blvd/Bathurst St.
Bike racks are also located on-site.
Paid parking is available at 800 Fleet Street (also accessible from Strachan Avenue, north of Fleet Street) and at the Fort York Visitor Centre (250 Fort York Boulevard).
As of June 11, 2021 our washroom facilities are open from 10am – 7:30pm daily. Face coverings are required. Gender-neutral washroom(s) available.
Free Wi-Fi is provided by Beanfield. Sign onto Beanfield1hfree and get one free hour of WiFi at The Bentway.