UPDATE: A full BlogTO review here provides a little more context
Wednesday night at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) , journalists, architects, writers, and academics gathered to debate the topic: Be it resolved that Toronto will never be beautiful. Put on by the Walrus Magazine, the debate expanded on the contents of this article which is lengthy but worth a read. (A brief synopsis of the debate is available here).
The topic itself gets to the heart of the inferiority complex of Torontonians, and perhaps Toronto itself. As the city has grown into Canada’s financial capital, and as it forged through the financial crisis better than most, questions about Toronto’s place among global cities have grown also. Part of this, is a certain self consciousness over appearance. Much like an adolescent worrying about body image as their voice changes, Toronto too wonders how it looks as it grows older, and bigger.
A favorite quotation that I’ve heard from the debate is from CBC’s Matt Galloway (of Metro Morning). He says that he’s had some of my most beautiful moments in this city in lineups in strip malls, which is about equivalent to telling someone who’s feeling ugly that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. It might be true, but it certainly doesn’t help in the moment. Over the last few years, though, I’ve come to better understand what he means living in the often vilified St. James Town.The Soviet aesthetic doesn’t prevent beautiful moments from happening, though let’s not pretend for one minute that it’s aesthetically pleasing.
As the city moves forward in the face of budget cuts, will Toronto become more beautiful, or less? And what does that mean anyway? What makes any city beautiful?