Looping Video Version
January, 2021 - Facades is a looping video piece that builds a study of the remains of the St. Joseph school for Girls in Spanish, ON. The image in the video and 3D model depict the shell of the remains of the school. Besides a pillar situated on the boy's school side, this is all that remains of the Residential schools in Spanish. The following is a brief history of the site and an account of the events surrounding the girls school.
Both schools were initially located in Wiikwemkoong on Manitoulin Island and were owned by the Jesuits of English Canada, The Daughters of Mary as well as the CDN government. They became operational in 1838 and remained there until 1913, when the girls school burned down. This fire prompted prompted the consideration of relocation & the eventual move to Spanish, ON.
Both schools became operational around 1914, and were named St. Peter Claver (for boys) and St. Joseph (for girls). The boys school introduced Garnier College, which was considered a high school, in the late 1940's. The schools ceased operation in 1965. There was an arena attached to the boys school that remained operational during the 1980's. By 2004 the school was demolished.
The girl's school ended up being sold to a private Individual and turned into apartments. On a very cold Friday night in January, 1982, an oil stove in the building caught fire. Those who were trapped inside the building perished. The property is owned by the same individual. The facade of the building is all that remains.
The RESIDVALS project is based on time spent at and around these sites - as a youth who had no idea what these schools were or their impact, and as an adult revisiting the remains and the land where the schools once stood.
My grandmother attended this school briefly as a child. At some point she ended up working there & that is when she met a delivery man who would become known as my grandfather.
My two cousins died in the fire in 1982.
The remains of the girls school have always scared me because they remind me of the movie Prom Night. I have never been able to get this association out of my head. The memory of the way I felt about this structure as a child heavily influenced this piece. And it is slightly touched by an interview I conducted with my aunt, where she spoke about the fire in 1982. The audio is a combination of fire audio and water audio paired with each other. The fire serves as a reference to the history of fire surrounding the girls school; and the water is a reference to the sounds that could be heard if one was standing at the site on a relatively quiet day (water continually flows down ditches towards the lake). There is a duality to this piece - a continuum of sorts where the fire comes and the water rushes to put it out and then it ebbs away, and then the fire builds again and the water comes and puts the fire out and then ebbs away...
FACADES // 2020 - 2021 // 3D Model and Looping Video versions. Both versions use the 3D Model image of the front of the St. Joseph's School for Girls in Spanish, ON.