July 2021 - Toronto ONClick here to read more about Ontario Place that we visited this week.
Ontario Place presents Over Floe, a sculpture installation by Toronto Artist John Notten that will float in the inner lagoon from spring until fall, 2021.
The puzzle of these strange geometric forms is revealed only when experienced from different perspectives. Approaching from one direction, they are simply icebergs.
However, each of the five structures reveals a contrary façade: a suburban house, a school, a bank, a factory, and a truck.
Over Floe is made almost entirely of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), commonly known as Styrofoam. Like icebergs, EPS is 95% air, a quality that makes both very buoyant. And both, of course, are typically white in colour. However, the similarities between the two end there.
Styrofoam is an ironic material choice: perhaps the least likely candidate with which to create a chunk of floating ice. Though it may be endlessly useful in packaging and building practices, EPS contributes an enormous amount of waste to our landfills every year, filling up to 30% of landfill space around the world. Because EPS is not biodegradable, it remains buried without decomposition for a very long time. And because it is extremely lightweight, EPS often breaks down and finds its way into the ocean where it represents a major source of harmful pollution.
Using a material so often associated with harm to the environment to offer an environmental warning had to be done with considerable thought and consultation. Rest assured, much care was put into ensuring that Over Floe is safe for the local environment and wildlife in and around Lake Ontario. Like a canoe, it has a durable epoxy coating eliminating any risk to the area in which it floats. Additionally, all of the EPS material for this project was salvaged from a Toronto demolition site and generously donated to the artist by EllisDon Construction eliminating a large quantity of potentially harmful waste that would have otherwise been buried in a landfill. Once the project is complete the EPS will be recycled and repurposed at a specialized facility.