FEMMEBOMB, by Janet Morton, Beatrice Lillie Health Centre, 1115 Queen West
Textile art wizard Janet Morton has suited up skates in herringbone tweed and swathed cottages in cozies. Now she's set to make Nuit Blanche blush (or at least rosé) with Femmebomb, another masterpiece from the queen of craft.
Most Nuit Blanchers know what A-bombs, smart bombs and time bombs are. But Femmebombs, not so much. Could you explain?
The original Femmebomb was on the former home economics building at the University of Wisconsin. My students there felt really burdened by the history of the site, even though there were positive connotations about early women's university education there, too.
So I did the Femmebomb project as a means of dealing with stereotypes: you can either ignore stereotypes or exploit them, explode them. I did the latter, playing the femininity up, taking it to an extreme.
And in 2004 when I did it, it was also a partial response to the whole situation of being in the States, where there was so much paranoia and patriotism around the war. My idea was that there are many ways to fight against that, and this was one of them.
How about collateral damage from a Femmebomb? Has there been any?
It's really funny. The university got uptight because all the "femmebomb" hits on Google were porn sites, which I thought was totally beautiful, because it would be great if someone were looking for porn and came across this big pink building.
And it is pretty much all pink, right?
There is a lot of it. The front, the sides and the roof of the Toronto building will be completely covered in pinks, reds and oranges. There are also lots of flowers -- I crocheted over 200 of them for this.
So it's a little like Christo meets Barbie? I know that's not quite what you're going for, because this is a lot more empowering than a Malibu mansion.
Definitely I'm not a girly girl! But it's intriguing to me that architecture is so often masculine, associated with this hard, heroic thing rather than something softer or different.
How else do you hope Femmebomb will ricochet architecturally?
I used to live in Parkdale and bike by this building twice a day, but I never noticed it. This is a chance to take something unnoticed and elevate it, transform it. It's also appealing to work in this neighbourhood because so many buildings are going up now that are slick, glassy and glossy, like Bohemian Embassy. The materials I'm using are very low-tech and down-home by comparison. It's kind of like taking this public health building and giving it the freedom of Halloween.