A Victoria home set to be demolished got a spooky makeover this fall when a group of climate activists and artists came together to create a public art project in the Fifth Street house.
The Waste Land: Climate Anxiety Haunted House project was created by co-curators Kate Brooks-Heinimann and Kay Gallivan and students from Esquimalt High School.
Brooks-Heinimann and Gallivan are installation artists and students in the teaching program at the University of Victoria. The Waste Land project started after Gallivan pitched the idea of turning pre-demolition homes into experimental public art spaces during a break at a meeting about large art projects at Victoria City Hall. Coun. Jeremy Loveday was on board and connected her with Aryze Development, a local company he felt might participate.
Gallivan got the call about a house set to be demolished in December. She was already working with students from Esquimalt High through one of her courses and she decided the house project would be a “great opportunity” to include the students. They chose mental health and climate change as the themes – hence the climate anxiety title.
The students got to work and a call for other contributing artists was put out. Gallivan noted that the number of artists has reached about 50.
The grand opening took place on Nov. 9 with a smudging and greeting by Cowichan Elder and healer Della Sylvester Rice. At 7:30 p.m., local musicians Boudsa and Nostic & Nicki performed and the house remained open to viewers until 11 p.m.
Further events are set to take place in the afternoons and evenings on Nov. 15, 16 and Nov. 17.
Loveday is set to present a spoken word workshop and to perform in the spoken word night event on Sunday.
All events are all ages and by donation, however Gallivan noted no one will be turned away because they can’t donate. The haunted house itself has been described as “whimsical yet haunting,” Gallivan noted. She emphasized that there are no jump scares, but that the art evokes “contemplative sadness.” Toddlers have come through the house and haven’t been scared, she noted.
Waste Land will close on Nov. 17 and some artists will begin to take down their work. others, said Gallivan, have chosen to leave their work to be demolished along with the home.
The fact that the art is impermanent is a metaphor for climate change, said Gallivan. She plans to pull up a lawn chair to watch it be demolished in December.
For folks with mobility issues or who would like to take a tour after the home is demolished, a 3D virtual tour was created by artist Rebecca Montgomery who works at Proper Measure Victoria, a company that creates 3D tours for real estate companies.