The Encampment (Toronto Version 2012) was commissioned by the Luminato Festival of Toronto and the City of Toronto, for the War of 1812 Bicentennial.
This version attracted over 170 public participants who researched the civilian history of The War of 1812. Our goal was to focus on everyday people caught in war and occupation, in this case the American invasion and occupation of Toronto and Upper Canada. The creative collaborators selected 200 individuals from that period. They then committed to a workshop process which allowed everyone to transpose the narrative histories into experiential installations within each of the 200 tents that consisted of metaphoric artifacts, found and created. The 200 tents were became a massive luminous sculpture installed on the grounds of historic Fort York in downtown Toronto.
Many of these individuals and their stories remain unrecognized as part of our history. They represent an assemblage of peoples including First Nations, European immigrants, African Canadians, as well as European and Native loyalists expelled from the United States after the American Revolution. Though the majority did not play a role in the military history of the War of 1812, collectively, they defined the zeitgeist of a nation. Their stories include themes of patriotism, betrayal, treason, profiteering, pacifism and family loyalties – during a time of invasion and occupation.
To see the names, please view or download a pdf of the programme.
At its inaugural presentation, commissioned by Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche 2006 in Toronto, and curated by Clara Hargittay, The Encampment looked at the history of mental health on Queen St. West between 1870 and 1940 and was set up in the gully of Trinity Bellwoods Park. 68-tents were set-up referencing the controversial Bill-68 passed by the Ontario Parliament in regards to treatment of mental health.
In 2007, The Encampment was presented in New York City in partnership with Open House New York on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island opposite the United Nations and looked at the island’s history of quarantine from 1800 to 1970. 100-tents were set-up referencing the 100 beds that were available in the existing historic, yet abandoned, small-pox hospital.
In 2008, it was presented in Ottawa in partnership with the Canadian Association for Community Living and the National Capital Commission, looking at the history of intellectual disability from 1820 to 2008. 70-tents were set-up referencing the established IQ under which an individual is considered intellectually disabled.