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Plotting a City at Harbourfront Centre

National Post | Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011
by Leah Sandals
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With the city's budget in process, new debates are quickly emerging about how to run Toronto. Now, three shows at Harbourfront Centre provide related talking points.

235 Queens Quay W., to April 3, 2011

This small vitrine show has a big premise: to consider the task of understanding a city the size of Toronto, which clocks in at 641 square kilometres, 100-plus neighbourhoods and 2.5 million people. Most of the eight exhibitors -- some of whom are my friends and colleagues -- use mapping as a strategy. This includes usual urban-activism suspects like [murmur] and former @rebelmayor Shawn Micallef, who here collects some of his poetic location-specific tweets about Toronto. But there's also some unexpected angles, such as Howard Podeswa's rough little paintings of rooftop ducts and Sandra Rechico's neat ball of red thread that, unfurled, spans 7.8 kilometres -- the distance from Rechico's house to the gallery, as travelled on her own red bicycle. Photographer Peter MacCallum, who's been documenting Hogtown architecture for several years, will trigger nostalgia for many with his four prints of recently destroyed Yonge Street buildings. None of these approaches, curator Pat Macaulay admits, provides anything close to a complete picture of the city. And there's a palpable lack of non-downtown perspectives. Nonetheless, Plotting a City offers some eloquent opportunities to quickly glimpse our town through different eyes.