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Things End

Things End

James Carl

Things End
  • Painted steel
  • 2012
  • 2.6 m x 3 m x 2.7m
  • 80 John Street, Festival Tower, Toronto

About the artwork

The John Street sidewalk outside of the Festival Tower condominium atop the TIFF Bell Lightbox now looks a lot more complete with the installation of a long-planned artwork by internationally renowned local artist James Carl. The 1,400 pound sculpture craftily titled Thing’s End, monumentalizes the humble blue rubber band. Its swirls provide both a diverting piece of art to contemplate, and a terrific frame to the human activity passing by. While the predominant feel of the piece is communicated through its relaxed stance, the work nevertheless suggests a little mischief with the tension suggested in its twists and turns, and it reminds the viewer of the tactile pleasures of snapping elastic bands.

About the artist

Canadian artist James Carl has focused his attention on the creation of sculptures which explore the legacies of modernist abstraction and the marriage of everyday materials, hand fabrication, and ideas around the social life of sculpture.

Cardboard was a signature material for Carl in the 1990s. He would find empty cardboard boxes discarded on the street and repurpose the material to create cardboard facsimiles of the appliances the boxes once contained. The finished works were placed back on the street corners, a comment on commercialism and waste.

From early cardboard facsimiles of garbage bins, bank machines, and car tires to more recent stone-carved reproductions of fast food take-out containers and consumer electronics and his custom lexicon of wall-mounted graphic works, Carl has, with a wry twist, continually re-contextualized notions of the familiar into a sprawling inventory of conceptual object making.

James Carl received his Master of Fine Arts from Rutgers University in 1996 after receiving diplomas from the Central Academy in Beijing (1995 & 1990), a BA from McGill University in Montreal (1992) and a BFA from University of Victoria (1983). Carl’s educational experience was unique in that it spanned continents and cultures and immersed him in a vast dialogue of artistic influences ranging from formalist approaches to art, to the emerging generation of China’s contemporary art scene, and Conceptual and Fluxist philosophies. He is currently a Professor of Studio Art at the University of Guelph outside Toronto, Canada.

Fun facts

  • Have you paid a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario recently? If so, you'll have been welcomed into the main entrance by another of James Carl's renowned sculptures. Part of his jalousie series from 2009, this abstract piece is made out of multi-coloured Venetian blinds, loosely woven together to form the hollow shape of a female torso. Check it out if you haven't already!

Engagement questions

  • What feeling or mood do you get from this artwork and why?