Imagine Anything

The performance was a public reading of a text, constructed out of commercial slogans, found in the city center of Toronto. The samples were found on shop windows, billboards, posters and banners scattered throughout the commercial districts. A performer read the text on a speakers’ corner in front of the city hall, designed by the city council as a memorial to freedom of speech, as if it were a sad reminder of a phenomenon from the past. For a short moment the project used the right of freedom of speech although you can question the status of the proclaimed freedom.

During the project ‘Imagine Anything’ we were fascinated by the overabundance of positive slogans we found in the city centre of Toronto. We collected different fragments from billboards, posters, banners and stickers. The majority of the slogans in this project refer to the possibilities to do something meaningful or they try to stimulate a creative awareness among consumers, a clear sign of the influence of Richard Florida, a urban studies theorist who, not surprisingly teaches at the University of Toronto and whose notion that cities must become trendy, happening places with emphasis on a creative worker class is widely spread. Florida’s theory focuses on the correlation between the creative city and a higher level of economic development.

We felt ambivalent towards this believe in the exaggerated hospitality, individual achievability and the emphasis on creativity within a commercial context, so we decided to collect these slogans in order to gain more understanding of this particular aspect of the city. We placed the different texts in a certain order and asked a performer to read them out loud on a speakers’ corner in front of the city hall.