(It's) the Pits is a 3-part project that invites local artists to guide participants in developing the agency to confidently partake in both skateboarding and in creative/tactical place-making through space reclamation, acting and sculpture art.

The project also seeks to foster dialogue with the general public by inviting them as exhibit spectators.

Background Info

The DIY Christie Pits Skatepark in downtown Toronto was a particularly well-loved summer staple for skaters from across the GTA, but especially for those who live between Etobicoke and East York.

While this may seem like a large geographic spread, the lack of skateparks in Toronto is a known problem - hence the DIY nature of Christie Pits. Recently, however, this tradition has been brought to a halt due to conflict with a small number of local residents whose homes abut the park.

This has resulted in a huge ripple in the community, creating a glaring vacuum in the middle of one of the biggest cities in North America. (Two other Toronto skateparks will also be unavailable for the upcoming season due to construction, while another DIY space, Arizona, was also recently torn down.)

"(It's) the Pits" was born straight out of the ashes of this loss.

Goals

The project will be led by a coalition of MVP members and partner artists/community supporters, who will work with participants from the Toronto skate community to execute the following three goals:

  1. Through reclaiming the Sid Smith Ice Rink, demonstrate the intensity of the Toronto skate community’s love/need of the former Christie Pits Skatepark;
  2. Guide participants in learning about Collective Creation, improv and acting, teaching the art of crafting narratives rather than to passively accept (typically) negative accounts of what it means to be a skater and/or an artist. MVP will work with the actors to create a short film as a testament to their new skills and as a permanent homage to Christie;
  3. Invite non-skaters to participate in a dialogue about the importance of skate culture within the urban landscape by publicly displaying interactive co-created skate sculptures. The co-construction process will convey the skate community’s diverse range of artistic sensibilities, but its united grief over the loss of Christie Pits Skatepark.

Reclaiming Space

Through reclaiming the Sid Smith Ice Rink, demonstrate the intensity of the Toronto skate community’s love/need of the former Christie Pits Skatepark;

While Sid Smith Ice Rink, the former site of the DIY skatepark, may no longer be available as a skatepark, the facility is still available for rent for the purposes of hosting public events such as an art exhibit (excluding COVID-related lockdowns).

MVP will be seeking the right to host a 3-day interactive art exhibit, open to the public, at this very site. The art in question will be made up of a number of skateable sculptures, created in collaboration with the community, MVP and any number of our supporting partners who may available at the time.

By legally taking over this space with cross-community support, we will be legitimizing the place of artists and skaters in the neighbourhood - if only for a few days.

(It's) the Pits - the Film

Guide participants in learning about Collective Creation, improv and acting, teaching the art of crafting narratives rather than to passively accept (typically) negative accounts of what it means to be a skater and/or an artist. MVP will work with the actors to create a short film as a testament to their new skills and as a permanent homage to Christie;

Losing one's second home is most definitely the pits and deserves a permanent place in our collective cultural memory.

MVP will be working with interested participants in developing their acting skills, using a base script to kickoff an exercise in ensemble character exploration and improv techniques, resulting in a final script through the Collective Creation process.

We will document the creation via a short fictional film, to both stand as a testament to participants’ skills and as a permanent homage to the former Christie Pits Skatepark. In the interest of staying true to the DIY spirit that made Christie what it was, the set of the film will be an interactive art installation in and of itself...

(It's) the Pits - the Installation

Invite non-skaters to participate in a dialogue about the importance of skate culture within the urban landscape by publicly displaying interactive co-created skate sculptures. The co-construction process will convey the skate community’s diverse range of artistic sensibilities, but its united grief over the loss of Christie Pits Skatepark.

Skateboarding and painting, skateboarding and cinema - these are no strange bedfellows; and skate obstacles as sculpture can be seen as one and the same. DIY is practically a core tenet of skate culture, as Christie’s very existence demonstrates.

Sealing the deal between art and skateboarding, however, are practitioners such as Raphaël Zarka and “official” representation in the form of spaces such as the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, one of the world’s most famous "tolerated" skateboarding spots… which doubles as the site of a literal museum.

We seek to continue this tradition.

Depending on funding, MVP will either be able to provide pre-fabricated modular pieces that can be put together and painted as desired; or entire sculptres may be able to be designed and created from scratch.

By encouraging each person painting or building a portion of a sculpture, (or building dialgoue with another in a short scene), MVP will foster a place for people with all kinds of artistic sensibilities to bloom under the guidance of our more experienced practitioners; we envision co-creation and education coming together to serve professional artists’ need to create and a broken community’s need to speak and to heal.

During the hours in which participants will not be making use of the installations as a set, the publicly-exhibited works will act as a catalyst for dialogue, inviting non-skaters and skaters to explore the pieces and to consider how the skate community can bring culture, art and diversity to the spaces it calls home.

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