Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Today I acknowledged the fact that the Apollo is a ‘body’ shop after all. This seems exactly the right place to fabricate this project and to reflect on urban form and how our bodies relate to the spaces and objects of the city. And even more so how the automobile has completely restructured our movement, compromised our well being and our perception of our environments.
The car currently dominates how we move on the planet. Its dangerous motion cuts us off from ease of movement and spontaneous wandering. It keeps us on guard as we hold a chronic repressed stress from a fear of death at any wrong turn. Most amazing is how we have become numb or adaptive to this ubiquitous violent disruption. The noise, pollution, and speed inevitably diminish and distract from any subtler stimulation and connections. We accept the almost complete loss of sensual and safe engagement to our environment, whether built or natural.
The space where I am working now is a scruffy grass batch between the municipal park, the alley and the garage. It is a liminal space that experientially seems to belong to the three zones at once. But somewhere on a city plan the boundaries are clear of what belongs to whom. For many years, the land on either side of the train tracks was left to nature’s wild ways. Some city dwellers revelled in this unofficial, forgotten and untamed space. It was a long savage patch where their bodies could roam, discover, trip, and linger out of sight.
To step away from the ninety degrees and the linear movement we are constantly confined to, is a return to our senses and our curiosity. Like all nature adventures these places offer a moment of freedom to get lost in the unpredictable beauty of what grows and changes without a human plan.
Recently this space has been dramatically tamed and named a park, the Chemin Vert. The land immediately adjacent to the train tracks belonging to CP remains, as these zones often do, a ‘weeds’ corridor and a reprieve from street life. It inspires escape and defiance, as wanderers enjoy the rails vista and the fun of jumping the fence or cutting it open to get around the mismanaged car city.
A photographer in the neighbourhood and friend Clayton Bailey has been documenting this phenomenon.