The Bentway is a unique urban platform for the presentation of public art, commissioning and hosting an ever-changing array of visual and performing art projects. Art at The Bentway is guided by our programming objectives and principles, which prioritize innovative artwork that is accessible, connected, generative, and participatory.
The year 2020 has forever altered the foundations of public life leading to dramatic shifts in society’s understanding and appreciation of routine, mobility, sustenance, education and cultural production. In a time marked by great upheaval and prolonged uncertainty it is not surprising that we are questioning what we deem essential. From basic freedoms, to critical labour, to crucial kindness, now is the time to work collectively to ensure we are building cities, spaces and institutions that address these vital needs.
The Essentials is a digital public art exhibition presented by The Bentway as part of the City of Toronto’s BigArtTO campaign. The project invites selected artists to reflect on that which is essential now, reaffirming priorities and commitments for the post COVID city.
Echoing The Bentway’s relationship with the Gardiner, the exhibition is presented across three lake-side sites of industry, leisure, and infrastructure. During this pivotal time of transition for both the buildings and the city the works suggest further multi-purposing of civic assets. Collectively the projects reflect on Toronto’s past and imagine an urban future premised on fundamentals, all the while asserting art’s own essential role in that evolution.
Double Dribble by Esmaa Mohamoud
Double Dribble will transform The Bentway into a surreal playground that encourages visitors to create their own idea of play. The installation is comprised dozens of basketball nets of varying sizes and heights and courtlines running dysfunctionally throughout the site. The exhibition will interact with The Bentway’s environment to create endless opportunities and public experiences that are accessible and participatory.
“In creating Double Dribble, I really wanted to challenge and disrupt the rules of play and who gets to play. I often feel like spaces aren’t accessible to a variety of people for many reasons. I hope Double Dribble is a site of accessibility, and moreover, a space for the reinvention of play.” – Esmaa Mohamoud
Mohamoud is an African-Canadian sculptor/installation artist working in Toronto. Her sculptures and installations focus on the navigation of Black bodies in contemporary spaces. Engaged in the politics surrounding Black male bodies in particular, her work investigates the (in)tangibility of Blackness through the exploration of athletics—specifically, the sport of basketball. Through the presentation of the conceptual artwork, Mohamoud aims to re-examine our contemporary understanding of Blackness by challenging ones relationship to blackness as a colour and shade, and Blackness as a societal or cultural construction of a group of people. Mohamoud holds a BFA from Western University (2014) and an MFA from OCAD University (2016). Mohamoud is represented by Georgia Scherman Projects.
Double Dribble was meant to be part of The Bentway’s Spring/Summer 2020 season of programming, informed by the theme Playing in Public. This season will explore the history of play, its role in shaping decisions about city fabric, and its application in non-traditional public spaces. This season was postponed due to COVID-19.
Double Dribble will now be exhibited in Spring/Summer 2021.