For our second Anda Residency we will be occupying a portion of a Riverdale rooming house.
The story of rooming houses, and of this particular residency, is one of increasing relevance for our city. Rooming houses host some of our city’s most vulnerable people that live well below the poverty line. The conditions of these spaces vary significantly, but they are commonly small, single-room, shared amenities (kitchen, toilet, bathing facilities), and very low rent. A report written by University of Toronto professor, Emily Paradis, shares that “Dwelling rooms (another term for rooming house) have played a vital role in the development of cities, meeting the need for housing that is affordable, low-barrier, and sometimes temporary. The reflect their cities’ history, built form and economy.” Though activists and community groups are working hard to protect these spaces, in Toronto and around North America, we continue to lose these spaces as our city develops and expands.
The focus of Anda_2 is to tell the story of these spaces, their residents, and how this unfolds in our cityscape.
Our artists-in-residence will occupy a space in a rooming house where we will be sharing space with the last of its remaining residents. Only 9 of the 24 residents remain; holding onto whatever time that they have left in their home. Thereafter these residents will be shifted to a new home somewhere in the GTA.
To help weave the story of these residents with the story of our city, we are looking for 1-3 visual artists or collective and 3-5 non-visual artists (poets, writers, map makers, performers, etc.) to use their craft to tell the story of these spaces. Artists-in-residence will be given space and material to create during the Anda 4-week residency.
The square footage of this residency is intentionally small to emphasize the squeeze of confinement. The timeline of this residency is intentionally short to echo the great sense of urgency that surround space and place in our city. Let’s step into that discomfort.
We live in an urban-experiment. Anda is a small test-tube of this experiment.
Artists will be selected based on diverse art practices and the strongest connection to the complexity and sensitivity of the theme.
A B S O R B : connect with urbanists, community members, and other artists to learn about the history of rooming houses, impacts of change, and engage in the broader dialogue urbanism in Toronto. (Facilitated sessions are strongly suggested to attend).
R E L E A S E : this is an opportunity to (co-)create and illustrate the story of spaces like this.
S H A R E : at the end of the residency term we are opening our doors to the public and hosting a 4-day art experience.
Anda is self-funded. The organizers of Anda are paying rent to occupy this space. Landlords are aware of our us space, but are not going to interfere with the art being created in agreement that we will not use their name in any media, publication, or forms of art.
The Tenants of this property have been served eviction notices June 2018. The Landlord is providing the (minimum) required support to assist in Tenant relocation. 9 of the 24 tenants remain in the properties for various reasons. Currently Tenants pay $500-600 a month, and market rent for a similar space is at least double that and farther outside the city. The superintendent that maintains the property is also still on-site. He was offered an opportunity to stay, but would also need to depart the space during renovations and will not be paid at this time. This is description is a drastic oversimplification of what is happening in this space. Through this residency we hope to learn more about the individual stories and relationships between these groups.
It is unclear what the exact use of this property will be. The Landlord is renovating the whole house while maintaining the original layout. They intend to include private washrooms in all units and a shared kitchen in the basement. The potential for this space to be student housing or professional furnished rentals.
We understand the emotional labour that this residency may entail. We will have councillors on-site to hold space for artists to talk through any personal challenges they may experience in this residency.