Street-level art: Hadley+Maxwell on icons, time and sculpting for the public sphere

Hadley Howes and Maxwell Stephens — professionally known as the dynamic artist duo Hadley+Maxwell—live in Berlin, Germany, and exhibit their integrative, 3D work all over the world. In early spring 2016, they delivered an artist talk at OCAD University, where their thoughts on employing diverse media to rework iconic images and traditional forms galvanized my interest. That first encounter with Hadley+Maxwell’s energetic blending of pop culture, politics, history and aesthetics left me craving more.

Most recently, Hadley+Maxwell have ventured into the public domain with their latest project Garden of Future Follies. This major public art commission is installed along Toronto’s waterfront (Front St. E. and Bayview Ave., North-West corner)

Hadley Howes casting To Serve and Protect
Hadley Howes casting To Serve and Protect
Photo by: Cristina Saban

The Garden of Future Follies is “based on the idea of the fanciful gardens and landscape ornaments of 18th- and 19th-century France and England,” explain Hadley+Maxwell. In this project, the artists deploy their signature Cinefoil process, which entails pressing a thick aluminum-foil material against an object to take its shape.

The overarching goal of the Garden of Future Follies is to bring aspects of public works down to street level. In this way, audiences can engage with past histories and reconfigure “reified ideologies” expressed within public works to present a new way of thinking and living.

Hadley+Maxwell and artist assistant Alex Achtem casting the iconic fireplace at Osgoode Hall Library
Hadley+Maxwell and artist assistant Alex Achtem casting the iconic fireplace at Osgoode Hall Library
Photo by: Sara Malabar

Individually titled Modern, Memorial, Atlas, Caryatid, Gargoyle, Threshold and Monument, each piece of their installation serves as a physical remix or mash-up of what has come before, and presents itself as the new ideal, not only within the art world but within Toronto’s larger social and cultural makeup. Expected to be completed in May 2016, the 190 aluminum impressions are currently in their final stages of being cast in bronze, polished, treated with patina and fitted with posts for installation. 

Recently, I drove out to Artcast — a premiere art foundry in Georgetown — to see how Hadley+Maxwell’s project is progressing and to gain more insight into how these artists shifted their thinking in order to create for the public sphere. Here is part of our conversation.

Time and space

Jill Price (JP): Up until this project you have been working within the gallery system. What have you had to think about differently while creating an installation that many people will interact with each day?


Hadley Howes (HH): We learned that we were more nervous than what is warranted. We expected many more restrictions. Time also became a bigger concept: regardless of the work now being constructed in bronze, the question arises, what does permanence really mean? Deterioration is still a time-based process; we are just dealing with a different variation of longevity in this case.


Maxwell Stephens (MS): Even the process became an organic research project about what is a successful public art project. We had to consider engineering and aesthetics simultaneously, safety, sharp edges, pinching, etc. We also needed to think how the context around the work might change.

Interpretation and aesthetics

JP:  Did you have mentors that you could turn to during this process?
HH: We approached and looked to creative people who have had experience working on this scale and in this realm. Dan Young, Ed Pien, Antonia Hirsch, Liz Magor and Fast Worms are all artists who we looked to for their sense of play. We also looked at the work of architects such as Carson Chan and Alex Schwader (a New York architect who has become an artist and has translated his practice from interior to public spaces).
MS: Historically, we also looked to great old-school public art by artists such as Picasso, Jean DuBuffet and Alexander Calder. They all considered surface versus interior; abstraction; adaptation; the difference between back and front; and the aesthetics and politics of collage.

Hadley+Maxwell contemplating the addition of a lion door knocker to balance the columns of Gargoyle
Hadley+Maxwell contemplating the addition of a lion door knocker to balance the columns of Gargoyle
Photo by: Jill Price

Public-sphere art

JP: Have there been benefits to working with extra parameters or expectations?
HH:  Overcoming or working on the temptation to be swayed by public opinion has demanded a lot of personal growth. When we realized there would be an overwhelming expression of public opinion, I had to ensure that I became very centred, developed a real conviction about our work and did not give in to the ego stroking or breaking that can happen when exposed to the public sphere.
MS: I have been excited to be able to make this work and take up the challenge to make for a broader public who are incredibly intelligent. The project has also served as a natural extension of our past projects, and has helped us continue our learning process as artists. Additionally, we became very excited when we saw some real opportunities for additional process or abstraction at the wax stage of the mould-making process.

Material language

JP: Do the two of you ever arrive at an impasse and, if so, what strategies do you use to move through those moments?
HH: Pouting! (LOL) We typically put everything on the table—historical context, constant questioning. If we are butting heads, it may be because we aren’t listening to the material and its history.
MS: We do take informal timeouts, but often the last word goes to the third element, the material. We share a respect for the material we are working with, whether it is the language of a poster or the aura of bronze.

Interpretation, interaction, integration

JP: Knowing that your works will be venerable, what do you worry about most? 
HH: I think my greatest fears are indifference, static interpretation, no interaction, no questioning.
MS: I find all forms of interaction exciting! I can’t wait to see how they will become integrated into the community and how they will be utilized or altered in different ways.

Advice for new public-commission artists

JP: What would be one piece of advice you would offer to artists who want to venture into the world of public art commissions?
HH: Do not think that you can do it on your own. Budget for help in your proposal. Also, immerse yourself in your making! We don’t really value traditional research methods, but we learned more than we ever expected simply through direct interaction with the sculptures.
MS: Yes, throw yourself into the material process and the ideas and meaning will follow. We had more people come up and teach us about what we were working with than we could have ever imagined. 

 

 

See more of Hadley + Maxwell’s work online, and follow the Garden of Future Follies on Facebook.

 

Jill Price is the curator and education officer at Quest Art in Midland, Ontario. She is currently a student in OCAD U’s Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design (IAMD) MFA program.

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Hadley+Maxwell Artist Talk

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

HADLEY+MAXWELL ARTIST TALK

March 31, 2016

12:00 PM

Room 320, 205 Richmond

Please join us for an artist talk by acclaimed Canadian artists Hadley+Maxwell. Currently based out of Berlin, Hadley+Maxwell’s installations, performances and writings employ diverse media to rework iconic images and traditional forms as they are expressed in pop-cultural, artistic and political movements. They cut into reified narratives via direct touch, transposition and refiguration, putting into play the absences cast in relief.

Hadley+Maxwell have been collaborating since they met in Vancouver, Canada, in 1997. Public presentations of their work have included solo exhibitions at Artspeak (Vancouver), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Kunstverein Göttingen (Germany), Smart Project Space (Amsterdam), and Project Art Centre, Dublin, and group exhibitions at galleries and festivals including the Vancouver Art Gallery, Kunstraum München, the Power Plant (Toronto), the National Gallery of Canada, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, La Kunsthalle Mulhouse (France), Witte de With (Rotterdam), the 4th Marrakech Biennale and the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

This Spring, the artists will unveil a major new public sculpture commission entitled The Garden of Future Follies at Front and Bayview in the Lower Don Lands.

This talk is presented by the Office of Graduate Studies at OCAD University.

Venue & Address: 
Room 320, 205 Richmond Street West
Website: 
http://www.hadleyandmaxwell.net/
Email: 
dbank@ocadu.ca
Phone: 
416-977-6000 X4366
HADLEY+MAXWELL poster with event info

Goethe-Institut Toronto and OCADU present the Ecology.Design.Synergy speaker series

Friday, September 24, 2010 - 4:00am

Series to open with Friedrich von Borries in conversation with Philip Beesley

(Toronto — September 24, 2010) The Goethe-Institut Toronto, in cooperation the Faculty of Design at OCAD University (OCADU) and the MaRS Centre, present a speaker series as part of Ecology.Design.Synergy: Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany & Canada. The series will launch with Provocative Visioning: The Artist/Designer as Eco-Provocateur, bringing together the remarkable creative explorations of Berlin-based Friedrich von Borries and Canadian Philip Beesley, with presentation of their work and ensuing conversation, at OCADU on Thursday, October 7, 6 p.m.

Curated by OCADU Faculty of Design Acting Dean Doreen Balabanoff in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, this series will explore a range of architectural and design practices that are transforming our understanding of ‘sustainability’ within the built environment. This evening showcases two outstanding Venice Biennale (Architecture) participants: von Borries curated the German presentation in 2008, and Beesley's project, Hylozoic Ground, is Canada's representative at the Biennale this year.

About the Speakers:
Friedrich von Borries
runs Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries in Berlin, a company developing urban development concepts, architectural installations and exhibitions. In 2003, with fellow architect Matthias Böttger, he set up ‘raumtaktik’ (‘spatial tactics’) a collaboration investigating space and spatial intervention. Interested in the means of production of space, and the cultural, economic and political parameters that determine the shape of architecture and urban development, they produced a series of exhibitions, installations and publications which challenge conventional thinking. Globalisation, migration, economic transformation, commercialisation, the event character of space, the activation of urban space — these are the underlying conditions explored in their dynamic and provocative team work. In 2008, von Borries was named Germany’s curator and commissioner for the Venice Architecture Biennale. Currently, von Borries is Professor of Design Theory at University of Fine Arts of Hamburg.

Toronto architect Philip Beesley of Beesley Architects, Prix de Rome winner, teaches at the University of Waterloo where he also co-directs the Integrated Centre for Visualization, Design and Manufacturing (ICVDM). The research conducted by Beesley at the ICVDM concerns textile lattices in architecture and focuses particularly on interlinked mesh structures, lightweight materials, and offset and assembly systems. His works are inspired by the organic world and traditional weaving techniques. They are, however, created using sophisticated visualization tools, digital technologies for graphic design, and devices allowing rapid prototyping. Beesley’s project “Hylozoic Ground” is currently on site in Venice as Canada’s entry at the 12th International Architecture Biennale.

Additional Ecology.Design.Synergy speaker events will include:

2) Strategic Construction: The Architect as Agent for Change

Manfred Bausem and Martin Liefhebber
November 26, 6 p.m.
OCAD University, Auditorium, 100 McCaul Street, Toronto

3) Visionary Regeneration: The Historic Fabric Refashioned
Speakers & Date TBA

4) Fine Tuning: The Building as Ecosystem
Speakers & Date TBA

About the Goethe-Institut Toronto
The Goethe-Institut Toronto (www.goethe.de/toronto) presents important positions, contemporary ideas and arts practices from Germany and Europe to Canadians. Our current focus themes are Culture & Economy, City & Climate, and German film & media art. We organise residencies together with our Canadian partners, offer international liaison work and consulting as well as promote European cultural understanding, e.g. through our cooperation with other European cultural institutes across Canada.

About OCAD University (OCADU)
OCAD University (www.ocad.ca) is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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For more information, contact:

Jutta Brendemühl, Program Coordinator, Goethe-Institut Toronto
416.593.5257 Ext. 205

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416.977.6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)

Ecology.Design.Synergy speaker series continues with Manfred Brausem and Martin Liefhebber

Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 5:00am

Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany & Canada presented by Goethe-Institut Toronto and OCADU

(Toronto — November 18, 2010) The Faculty of Design at OCAD University (OCADU) in partnership with Goethe-Institut Toronto presents the second talk in a speaker series as part of Ecology.Design.Synergy: Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany & Canada. Strategic Construction: The Architect as Agent for Change brings together German architect Manfred Brausem in conversation with Canadian architect Martin Liefhebber for a free event on Friday, November 26 at 6 p.m. in OCADU’s Auditorium.

The series launched in October with Provocative Visioning: The Artist/Designer as Eco-Provocateur, showcasing the remarkable creative explorations of Berlin-based Friedrich von Borries and Canadian Philip Beesley.

Curated by OCADU Faculty of Design Acting Dean Doreen Balabanoff in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Toronto, this series explores a range of architectural and design practices that are transforming our understanding of ‘sustainability’ within the built environment. This evening showcases two pioneers in passive solar design: Manfred Brausem is embraced as a ‘guiding spirit’ by innovative architectural firms in the US; Martin Liefhebber’s vision extends beyond creating healthy homes to building healthy communities.

About the Speakers:
Manfred Brausem is an accomplished Passive House architect based in Cologne. He has been a pioneer of the Passive House movement since its introduction in Germany 15 years ago. He has realized over 100 passive solar projects, and is one of the most experienced professionals worldwide in the field. The Passive House Standard is hugely successful in Europe. Manfred’s work was instrumental in popularizing it across Europe. In 2015 this energy standard, with an amazing 90 percent reduction in energy use, will become part of the building code in Germany and is being promoted by the European Union for adoption by their member states as part of their commitment to curb climate change.

Martin Liefhebber is one of Canada’s original “bioneers” — using unorthodox materials including straw bale in urban settings and used tires in “earthships” — gaining recognition in 1991 for the award-winning off-grid “Healthy Home”, commissioned by the Canadian Mortgage & Housing Association. Throughout his career, and as principle in his firm (which has grown from Liefhebber Architects to Breathe Architects), Liefhebber has demonstrated his belief that “architecture is something that actually fixes the environment.” This approach is evident in both the Clarkson house, designed for exceptional indoor air quality, and the “MC2” house designed to address affordability, ageing and ambient resource use, and absorbing and circulating sunlight, air and water in a hybrid power system. Liefhebber teaches in OCAD University’s Environmental Design program.

Additional Ecology.Design.Synergy speaker events will include:

Visionary Regeneration: The Historic Fabric Refashioned
Speakers & Date TBA

Fine Tuning: The Building as Ecosystem
Speakers & Date TBA

About the Goethe-Institut Toronto
The Goethe-Institut Toronto (www.goethe.de/toronto) presents important positions, contemporary ideas and arts practices from Germany and Europe to Canadians. Our current focus themes are Culture & Economy, City & Climate, and German film & media art. We organise residencies together with our Canadian partners, offer international liaison work and consulting as well as promote European cultural understanding, e.g. through our cooperation with other European cultural institutes across Canada.

About OCAD University (OCADU)
OCAD University (www.ocad.ca) is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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For more information contact:
 

Jutta Brendemühl, Program Coordinator, Goethe-Institut Toronto
416.593.5257 Ext. 205

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416.977.6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)

Ecology.Design.Synergy series continues with a talk by Barbara Hoidn and George Stockton

Thursday, February 24, 2011 - 5:00am

(Toronto — February 24, 2011) The Ecology.Design.Synergy: Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany & Canada speaker series, launched in 2010 by the Goethe-Institut Toronto in cooperation the Faculty of Design at OCAD University (OCAD U), continues with a talk by Barbara Hoidn and George Stockton on Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m. Hoidn and Stockton will address the theme Reclaiming The Land: The Designer as Eco-Regenerator.

Curated by OCAD U Faculty of Design Acting Dean Doreen Balabanoff in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, this series explores a range of architectural and design practices that are transforming our understanding of ‘sustainability’ within the built environment. Past speakers in the series have included Friedrich von Borries, Philip Beesley, Manfred Brausem and Martin Liefhebber.

About the Speakers:
Barbara Hoidn studied architecture and city planning at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany. She worked as a project architect for the Public Building Administration in Frankfurt/Main and for several years as a project partner with the office of José Paulo dos Santos, Oporto, Portugal. In 1994 she joined the strategy department of the Senate Building Director of Berlin as Head of the Architecture Workshop. In this position she was responsible for the development of public urban design guidelines and the consultation of private projects in central Berlin, the concept and organization of symposia, conferences and exhibitions on urban development in Berlin. From 2000 to 2001 she was head of a team in the housing department of the Senate Department for Urban Development in Berlin, responsible for the handling of several national and European urban renewal programs in Berlin. In 2001, with Wilfried Wang, she founded the office Hoidn Wang Partner in Berlin.

George Stockton is a landscape architect and planner who has been working with Moriyama & Teshima Planners Limited since 1969. Now President of the firm, he has been Project Director of several long-term environmentally sensitive visionary plans which have won major international awards from the Waterfront Center in Washington. In recent years, Stockton has built up a significant body of work in the Middle East, where he headed a team of landscape architects and engineers to undertake the Wadi Hanifah Comprehensive Development Plan to rehabilitate an ancient drainage system in central Saudi Arabia. Over a ten-year period, using ground-breaking processes of bio-remediation, a near-extinct ecosystem and important natural heritage site has been restored and enhanced as an environmental, recreational and tourism resource. The project won the 2010 Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Ecology.Design.Synergy:
Green Architecture & New Ideas from Germany & Canada

March 9, 6 p.m.
Reclaiming The Land: The Designer as Eco-Regenerator
Barbara Hoidn & George Stockton

OCAD University
Central Hall (Room 230), 100 McCaul Street, Toronto
416-977-6000 | www.ocad.ca

All are welcome; admission is free. Limited seating available; guests are advised to arrive early.

Next in the Ecology.Design.Synergy Speaker Series:

April 7, 6 p.m.
Reclaiming the City: The Architect/Planner as Eco-Urbanist
Stephan Lanz & Graeme Stewart

Stephan Lanz has been working in urban development and lectures at the Faculty of Social and Cultural Studies at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder. As a founding member of metroZones - Center for Urban Affairs, he is active in various urban and cultural networks in Berlin and is the editor of the book series "metroZones".

Graeme Stewart is an associate with E.R.A. Architects (Toronto), a noted Canadian architectural firm specializing in professional heritage consultation and adaptive reuse of existing buildings, exemplifying the philosophy that the greenest building is the reused building. Renowned projects include the Stone Distillery at the Distillery Historic District (2007), and the Artscape Wychwood Barns (2009) in Toronto. Stewart’s focus has been with more recently built landmarks, including the 1,000 modern apartment buildings from the 1960s and 1970s, known to be among the most energy inefficient of the Toronto’s building stock. Stewart oversees the ‘Tower Renewal Project’, implementing green technologies, re-skinning, clean energy and urban agriculture.

About the Goethe-Institut Toronto
The Goethe-Institut Toronto (www.goethe.de/toronto) presents important positions, contemporary ideas and arts practices from Germany and Europe to Canadians. Our current focus themes are Culture & Economy, City & Climate, and German film & media art. We organise residencies together with our Canadian partners, offer international liaison work and consulting as well as promote European cultural understanding, e.g. through our cooperation with other European cultural institutes across Canada.

About OCAD University (OCAD U)
OCAD University (www.ocad.ca) is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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Download this release as a PDF file.

For more information contact:

Jutta Brendemühl, Program Coordinator, Goethe-Institut Toronto
416.593.5257 Ext. 205

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)