Tag Archives: Toronto

X is for ‘Xception

Located at 158 Sterling Rd, Toronto ON, Canada A M6R 2B7
Museum Website: https://moca.ca/ 

Museum of Contemporary Art

This is the exception that proves the rule… in other words, this post doesn’t stick with any of the theme rules… it is not in the five boroughs of New York City, it can’t be reached by the New York public transit system, and it is not free! So it is a true ‘Xception!

If there is one thing that is truly a representation of our current cultural moment, that would be art, more specifically our contemporary art, inclusive and interdisciplinary. Such is the base for the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto.

MOCA was born in the late 90s to provide Canadian artists an opportunity to manifest their internal voices. This space was created for artists to experiment with multilayered themes, diverse realities and complexities thriving in the cultural microcosm of this globalized city.

With multiple transformations since its inception, MOCA has set up roots in various parts of the city and thus brought a cultural dialogue into those neighborhoods. Initially located at Queen West, MOCA established its presence as a renowned art gallery of Toronto. Later, it moved to the current location, the heritage Auto building, that was designed by architect John W. Woodman of Winnipeg in 1919. This historical building was originally a factory that produced aluminum products for World War II and was known for its innovative architectural construction. In those days, it was the tallest building in the city and pioneering an innovative approach known as concrete flat slab architecture. Each floor is a slab of reinforced concrete and is supported by concrete columns.

During my visit to the museum, I was mesmerized by its external and internal architectural design. 

The museum had large barn doors with a blue metal window protruding out of the front face of building, which is an installation art by Ghazaleh Avarzamani.

There are some woderful exhibitions going on currently.

Kapwani Kiwanga – Remediation

The Canadian-French artist Kapwani Kiwanga`s survey exhibition Remediation showcases the artist’s work around environmental sustainability and conservation in the face of the political and economic turmoil. It delves into the interactions between humankind and nature and how the two while disrupting each other also provide remediation through unique ways of purge and sustenance to maintain ecological balance. 

The main exhibit, Elliptical field, is a site-specific arrangement of steel compositions covered in sisal fiber. This artistic installation is considered a contrast to the industrial space the museum housing in. It emphasizes the coexistence of the natural with the manmade and the duality of the world. 

Another exhibit that I found interesting is the balloon vivariums in different plant shapes that signaled a promising future, in which vivariums will be made to protect and support plant life rather than enclose and cage.

Other site-specific elements include a sculpted drywall with colored windows that give off a sense of blocking the concrete jungle outside to preserve the aesthetics inside. 

Athena Papadopoulos – The New Alphabet

The Greek-Canadian artist Athena Papadopoulos has two bodies of work titled Trees with No Sound and Bones for Time, which were created within the timespan of the Covid pandemic. Trees with No Sound are a set of sculptures recycled from the artist’s own belongings like furniture, clothing, stuffed objects, etc. to sew, meld, and paint materials into what ultimately looked like trees. Portraying the artist’s state of mind during the pandemic, the trees reflect a forest of fears stemming from the economic uncertainties and whether the artwork would be seen by the public. The artist aimed to pose the question whether a tree falling in a deserted forest makes a sound. 

The title Bones for Time signifies a dual meaning, one that compares the trade-ins of the victims’ bodies for a reduced sentence during a criminal prosecution to working for hourly wages based on precarious labour practices. Bones for Time sculptures looked like archeological artifacts made in the shape of letters in the English alphabet. The artist traces her own body on unused hospital and wool blankets to compose solid structures, attached with a surreal meaning, that resemble various letters.

Susan for Susan – Trade Show 

This exhibition called trade show exhibition explores the balance between sculpture and product design. The collaborative design practice of John and Kevin Watts, of Susan for Susan design studio, present a visual language in an apartment interior using industrial materials and fine craftwork.

As an interconnected system, the installation includes seating, a table, shelving, a vanity, and lighting, suspended around a central column and hung from a gantry. It utilizes a wide range of industrial materials from aluminum and steel, to glass, wood and concrete. Matching function with creativity, the exhibits overlap the practices of art, architecture, and design.  

Matt Nish-Lapidus – Only the dreamer knows it (sound installation)

A Torontonian, the artist shares his memories of the industrial building before the museum occupied the space. This sound installation work comprises of three audio tracks, which are played along the three floors of the museum. The first floor audio replays the neighborhood sounds with rhythms and loops. The chord progression from the second floor recording simulates a sci-fi audio experience. On the third floor landing, the sci-fi tune is interrupted by rhythmic beats signifying how routine life can be disturbed by twists and turns, also pointing to the construction in the neighborhood.

28 Apr 2023

Worldpride Toronto…I’m Impressed!

June 29, 2014. Never expected the day to turn into such a big party. It was an experience of a lifetime. A celebration of life, love, and liberty as I have never seen before. Yes, I am talking of the final pride march, the concluding event at the ten-day Worldpride festival that took place in the last week of June in Toronto. As an ally and supporter, standing by the railings, cheering on, I felt truly proud. It was a spectacle of openness, doing what you like, and not caring a damn. Strong emphasis on the last point.


This was the event I have been waiting for since I heard of its popularity from my friends who had attended the pride parade the previous years. But the parade this year exceeded even their expectations. Way grander and bigger with a huge audience. And not just the marchers but the spectators were also an interesting crowd. I was walking around in open-mouthed wonder most of the time.


It was sheer excitement to see people, most exotically dressed in all imaginable costumes, performing for us. The drag queens looked drop-dead gorgeous. There was representation from human rights groups, affiliated with the Worldpride ideologies, as well as major Canadian for-profit organizations. I must admit though, the corporates do not make good entertainment material. It was slightly boring to watch them. Not so much the other groups who put in some thought into their costumes and exhibits in order to provide the most appealing display of their group’s mission and values.


The LGBT communities from different universities and sports clubs also put up a great show. It was interesting to note the firm statement put forth by communities originating in restrictive cultures like the (gaysi) The Gayi Desi and the Ismaili Queers. It was the spirit of solidarity that bound us all. Our cultural backgrounds, faiths, opinions, and orientation mattered no more. What mattered was that we were all there personifying unity in diversity and most importantly, having fun.


The authorities including the politicians and the police were there in tow providing their support. An estimated 12,000 people marched in the parade while more than a million supporters (I think!) grooved to the music played on the vans and vehicles carrying the floats and the people. The parade spanned across downtown Toronto, culminating at Yonge-Dundas Square, the most popular entertainment spot, for a musical evening of some great rock and pop music. This has been the best event I have attended in Toronto till date.

01 Jul 2014

Toronto Khalsa Day Parade: A Truly Multicultural Experience!

That was precisely how I felt when I entered Nathan Philips Square, the huge atrium surrounding Toronto City Hall to watch the 29th Khalsa Day Parade. The parade is organized by the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwaras Council (OSGC) every year to celebrate Vaisakhi, the New Year in the Sikh community.
It is an expression of solidarity within the Canadian Sikh community, who invite everybody to come out and share the day with them. Around 85,000-100,000 people were estimated to have attended the event. Beginning at Exhibition Place at 1 pm, the parade reached Toronto City Hall via Lakeshore Blvd. Marching to drumbeats, the procession included school bands and carriages with posters of Sikh history and culture, intermingled with Canadian culture. Following them were spectators in their thousands, some of them singing in the true spirit of participation.
Delving into history, we find that Sikhism, as a religion, originated in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent in the 15th century. Toronto boasts of one of the largest Sikh communities in the world next to Surrey in Vancouver. ‘Khalsa’ is the name ascribed to the Sikh community. Canadian Sikhs form 1.4% of the population in Canada and 28% among the South Asians, according to Wikipedia, our everyday resort for facts of these kinds. Giving these a once-over, we can now move to the more interesting part, the food.
I was amazed by the awesome variety of free food available at the event. There were at least 20 food stalls serving different types of Indian food and beverage. And it was all for free! The whole day! Also, did I mention that it was extremely tasty?!! Frankly speaking, we were doing the rounds of the food counters most of the time, pigging out on savory and sweet stuff, drinking tea, smoothies, juice, etc. Even in the procession, volunteers were distributing pizza and juice.
Actually, I saw people making up doggie bags to take food home. What was best about this was that there were people from different cultures from all corners of the world. Everybody was welcome to the delicious food. People were there lining up, ready to snack on the readymade food. Well, that was another thing, the huge line-ups! The food stalls were overcrowded and there was some shoving and pushing. But it was all in good spirit!
Many top politicians and dignitaries also graced the occasion to pay their respects to the huge gathering. And probably to remind us to vote for them! Some of them stood out, donning traditional Indian clothing. This added a touch of novelty to the event, in the minds of people like me. There were also small-time fun activities for kids such as face painting and games. All in all, it was a day well-spent!

06 May 2014

A Trip to Canada’s Capital City

Is it the end of the month already? Where did the whole month go? 🙂 This month’s guest post is by Cux, who talks about her foray into one of the very interesting cities of Canada.



Toronto is a great city… spectacular architecture, a great array of lovely restaurants and a buzzling arts and cultural scene… all add to its charm. But it is the classic international city! Very multicultural and diversified, it somehow lacks a unique identity. Having lived here for a while, I was determined to get around and explore other Canadian cities.
When a couple of my friends from the Czech Republic turned up in Toronto, it was the ideal opportunity to go visit Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. These cities were so different in their architecture, culture, signature food, and the outlook of their inhabitants that it was a real pleasure to be there. It was fascinating, to say the least.
Ottawa, the main center of the Canadian government, is a quiet, introspective city which mesmerized me with its colonial buildings and Victorian structures. The many walking trails that weave around the city gives one the opportunity to investigate its varied environments. Whether it is the Discovery walk that begins at the Canadian Museum of Civilization on the banks of the Ottawa River, and ends at Parliament Hill, or the walking trails around the Provincial Parks, all of them provide unique experiences.

My tour companions were seasoned walkers and helped me keep up my enthusiasm for walking throughout the trip.
The beautiful Alexandria bridge that connects Ottawa to Quebec is a beautiful sight. Ottawa has the most well-kempt parks and gardens. Also, it is home to the Canadian Tulip festival.

We saw the Rideau Canal which totally freezes over and becomes the world’s largest skating rink in the winter. The canal was opened in 1832 and is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The National Gallery of Canada houses the most creative art that I have seen in Canada till date including a landmark sculpture of a spider in front of the building. The sculpture, named Maman by the artist Louise Bourgeois, is among the world’s largest sculptures, measuring over 30 ft high and over 33 ft wide. It is made of bronze, stainless steel, and marble.

We sat in for a parliament session as well… it was interesting to watch the proceedings in the House of Commons though we were more taken in by the stained glass paintings and the intricate architecture of the hall! Do take a look
The Byward market is the happening place in town, lined with posh cafes and shops. Interestingly enough, adjacent to it, was an old old farmers market. This, I thought, was a perfect blend of tradition and modernity. I found the best cookie shop in this market where I tasted cookies designed as Canadian flags.
The friend in Ottawa who hosted us was a good cook and lived in a lovely house in a great locality. He introduced us to homemade maple butter, the next best thing to chocolate. Since then, I am hooked on it.
At some distance from the city, on the way to Montreal, we checked in on Plaisance National Park, which has a beautiful lake and some scenic wetlands, spread across the Ottawa river.

That was the best hiking trail of the trip.


It felt like walking in the wilderness of a natural forest. Protected by forest range officers, this huge park is good for camping. I hope I can go back there with my family sometime in the future.


And my photographer friend captured splendid shots of the floating gardens, open fields, flora and fauna including deer, squirrels, ducks, and beavers.
More about Montreal and Quebec City later…


31 Mar 2014