UNSOUND Festival comes to Toronto
At 440 Unwin Ave, nestled in the Toronto Portlands between Cherry Beach & Ashbridges Bay lies one of the cities few abandoned spaces. The Hearn Generating Station was a power plant decommissioned in 1983. Until now, if you wanted to explore inside the space you would’ve had to have been part of one of the film crews shooting inside of the space, or an urban exploration ninja.
This weekend for the first time in its history, the Hearn is opening it’s doors to the public for Unsound Toronto– a music festival being presented through Luminato. A few rare private parties have been held in the space, including yesterday’s Luminato Opening Gala. On Wednesday morning I had a chance to walk through the space with the Luminato’s Artistic Director Jorn Weisbrodt, as well as Unsound Co-Curators Mat Schulz and Malgorzata Plysa.
Jorn spent a great deal of time in Berlin after the wall came down, and describes the city as a place with a rich culture of underground clubs, and spaces reclaimed by art & artists. In Toronto however, those kind of found spaces are rare. Jorn is positively infected with the potential of the space, and what it proposes for the future of the Toronto art scene- which is why he’s chosen to host the past 2 Luminato Galas in the space. Where previous city plans to revitalize the building by turning it into hockey rinks fell through, Jorn is hoping Luminato will “start a fire” in the imagination of Torontonians. In his grand & creative alternative, he envisions the space brought back to life to pump energy into Toronto in a new way- as a future cultural landmark for the city. This fits in well to this year’s overarching theme for Luminato, which echoes the cycle of chaos and order. Of industry conquering nature, and nature taking over again. Luminato will begin tonight by breathing life back into an abandoned space, and will conclude with an epic rendition of R. Murray Schaefer’s Apocalypsis featuring 1000 performers.
This is also the premiere of Unsound Festival in Toronto. Unsound Fest was started in Krakow, Poland by Mat Schulz and Malgorzata Plysa in 2006 to explore the intersection of architecture, music, and art. In subsequent years it has also traveled to NYC, London, & Adelaide using found spaces for the performance- including a 15th century Gothic cathedral in Krakow. The Toronto incarnation of Unsound will see the scale of festival aggrandized in the huge Hearn, which the pair remark feels like an industrial cathedral. The line up features what the pair describe as “the creme-de-la-creme of Unsound performers”, playing works commissioned especially for the Unsound Festival- including the Canadian premiere of Tim Hecker’s olfactory & musical experience Ephemera. (Note, the first of tonight’s performance of this is SOLD OUT, but there are limited tickets available for the later set).
The curation of Unsound musicially reflects the place where sound art & experimentation meets club music. And at Hearn Station there are no neighbours to offend with noise complaints,so you can expect the night to get loud. The curators explain the experience as “a sound that’s in your entire body”. It’s intended to be overwhelming, immerisive, and a little abrasive. But in case you forget yours, the event will be providing ear plugs for guests.
Other things to note for the show tonight- the building may be cold inside, and you are not recommended to wear stiletto shoes. A floor has been laid for the event, and safety measures have been taken to make sure that the space is safe and ready for guests- but wear shoes that can take getting a little wet or dirty. As far as transportation goes, your best bets are taking a cab from Union Station to the site, driving or biking. There will be bike and car parking there. Unfortunately the Hearn is not accessible by transit.
For those who are looking for an adventurous party and art experience this weekend, Unsound may be one of the most exciting experiences you’ll get to partake in this summer. Greetings from Toronto is excited to announce that we will be doing a live collaborative painting on the Saturday night of the fest to capture our experience of the space & and music within it.