At the heart of every waterfront city, the boardwalk acts as a crossroads for locals and travelers alike. Though these cities are in constant flux, expanding outward and upwards, the boardwalk holds its place as a cornerstone for tourism in the town.
For Nocturne art festival, we transformed the Halifax waterfront into a tourist information station, with a twist. We resurrected a tourist booth complete with a food stall, a line-up of performers, and an interactive postcard activation; all exploring what the boardwalk means for the community and tourism now and into the future. While the new changes in Halifax have inspired “end of the world” sentiments among locals, a trip down to the waterfront is certainly something to write home about. Here is what our letter home would say…
Kastor & Pollux is based in Toronto – but we couldn’t resist a trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia for their city-wide evening of art. In other words, we were tourists.
When working as a tourist, the first thing you need to do is find a place to create in. The kind people at EyeLevel Gallery were generous enough to lend us some studio space for the week. One thing to note: during its September visit through Halifax, Hurricane Dorrian was not so kind. As such, the beautiful old building acting as our satellite studio had been condemned.
On our second day of painting, it started to rain, and the roof of the gallery began to leek.
Another thing to note: the locals in Halifax are the friendliest you’ll ever meet. Curious passersby stopped to ask us about our project and mourn the loss of the condemned building. Every conversation ended with them airing their grievances over the rapid gentrification in the neighbourhood. Although the building was being torn down due to the damage caused by the hurricane, it would be replaced by a shiny, new, high-rise and therefore symbolized gentrification in their eyes. Many of them admitted that soon they would no longer be able to afford to live in that neighbourhood.
Halifax is currently experiencing the growing pains of gentrification. While nearly every major city experiences this at some point, the tensions there are especially high right now.
So here were were, tourists working out of a condemned landmark, soon-to-be condominium in a rapidly changing neighbourhood that was pushing it’s residence out. To be hyperbolic, it was The End of The World as they knew it.
Our Nocturne Anchor project, “Greetings from The End of The World” calls to mind issues of what is lost and what can be found, while questioning the blurred line between displacement and modernization. Amid a zigzag of new developments and proposals for rezoning, this installation highlights tourism as an opportunity for congregation.
After a week of prep work we installed our tourism booth on the waterfront. Inside, guests were invited to fill out one of our custom postcards. After all, the end of the world is certainly something to write home about.
On site to greet visitors, a lineup of performers brought the doomsday vibes. Electric violists, a futuristic juggler, and hypnotic belly dancers from Serpentine Studio set the scene.
We put an end of the world spin on the typical merchandise found at tourist information booth – flyers, stickers, and t-shirts that read “I went to the end of the world and all i got was this t-shirt” and “It was nice while it lasted!”
Visitors from all over Nova Scotia came to the festival. Even at The End of The World, the boardwalk brought the city together. Thanks to the amazing community of curators, makers, and supporters who made our participation in Nocturne art festival possible. If this is what the end of times looks like, I’m not mad about it.
Festival Curator: Tori Fleming
Creative Direction and Design: Dani Roche
Fabrication: Will Vandermeulen
Installation & Documentation: Tomas Acevedo
Production: Dani Reynolds and Ema Walters
Food Services by: M&J’s
In Studio Photography: Dani Reynolds
Performances by: Serpentine Studio, Danger Nike, Elsa and Caleb Allred
Special thanks to: Sally Wolchyn-Raab of EyeLevel Gallery