Clean Sweep by Sarah Beck and Shlomi Greenspan was part of Gallery Galleria curated by Aisle 4. The exhibition happened at Galleria Shopping Centre May 12th-17th, 2016, located at 1245 Dupont Avenue, Toronto ON.
The Galleria is a small, neighbourhood mall whose aesthetics and operations reflect the culture of the 1970s, when it was constructed. New businesses, followed by ELAD Canada’s upcoming redevelopment has signalled the rebranding and gentrification of the mall’s neighbourhood. Young families and artists have moved in, diversifying an area of Toronto characterized as old school Italian and Portuguese.
Before this transition is complete, the curators of Aisle 4 organized a fine art exhibition that critically reflected on where we came from and where we are headed. Clean Sweep examines and celebrates this sea change using humour and a fabricated narrative to tell the story of the past, present and future through the eyes of two artists that happen to be part of this story.
Clean Sweep is a diorama built into a coin-operated claw machine, meshing visual cues from anthropological exhibits at museums with the consumer culture of the shopping mall. Malls and new developments often feature architectural models or dioramas that help illustrate what the future will look like. Their miniature scale often evokes a child-like sense of wonder, and can bring to mind the dioramas so often seen at museums.
To explore gentrification Beck and Greenspan chose to frame it as a cycle – as neither good nor bad, but viewed as art of a larger pattern. While new stores may replace old ones, older stores took the place of something that existed before them. Reaching way back, before capital enterprise’s cycle, that same space served other purposes. Those purposes include use as habitat and even hunting or grazing sites. Something always colonies what was there before.
This is the second time the artists have collaborated. Their previous work, Untitled (It’s Almost a One-Liner), combined their interest in narrative, humour and reality. Their second collaboration has allowed them to continue to develop their collective body of work.
As residents of the Dufferin Dupont area they have witnessed the gentrification process as artists who predated these changes, as residents who have benefited from these changes, and potentially as renters who will be priced out of the area. Their unique position as those most directly affected by these changes provided them with an ideal vantage from which to create Clean Sweep.