April 11, 2018

Spotlight: Meet Natalia + Natalia the Natural Forces behind ‘Equilibrium’

It’s Earth Month here at Yonge + St. Clair and we wanted to take a more creative approach not only to celebrate Mother Earth, but public art as well. That led us to formulating a ‘Call for Artists‘ back in February where we accepted proposals for public art installations that would be original,  interactive, and environmentally conscious. After pouring through the many fantastic submissions, our team made the final decision with architect’s Natalia Bakaeva (Interspatial) and Natalia Tcherniak’s (Blueprint Jam) proposal for a large scale art installation titled ‘Equilibrium‘. Equilibrium will be suspended from the ceiling of the lobby of 2 St. Clair W, and will be on display from April 16th-30th.

Natalia + Natalia took a few moments to talk to us about Equilibrium itself, sustainability, public art, and what they’re working on next.

Q: As trained architects, you are deeply involved in sustainability in your profession, how does Equilibrium comment on the larger ecological balance throughout our daily lives?

Our installation explores the sense of “Equilibrium” within a set of suspended mobile structures, that is inspired by the evolutionary structure of ecosystems. We wanted to emphasize that the idea of “balance” would involve both the natural and man-made. Everything we, as architects, and as people, add to our environment is connected and interdependent to what is existing, and should be considerate and respectful.

In our previous work, we explored the idea of interaction nature and human in its different forms, inviting spectators to play an active role in conceding meaning to the art expression itself. Such as, Natalia B. has done as part of Interspatial collective with Inverted Valleys, where they used the topology of Don Valley to extend attention to under-appreciated and overlooked spaces in civic imagination. With “Equilibrium” we want to provoke a similar reaction. Engaging and rising awareness about the delicate global ecological balance and the role we play in it as agents for change.
In “Equilibrium” you may not be able to necessarily trace every line that holds the piece together, and yet, every little element plays a crucial part in an overall balance. Even the materials we utilized, recycled from previous installations, contribute to the overall idea of ecological equilibrium and the sustainable mindset of younger generations.

Q: Borrowing from the Theory of Complexity, how do the objects and materials used affect the overall meaning of the work?

The way the installation relates to the Theory of Complexity and evolutionary biology is that Equilibrium is based on an holistic organism, which parts are interrelated and connected through organized chaos. It was important for us to create a system of networks that would behave as such.

As we mentioned previously, the idea was to emphasize the idea of both the natural and man-made, where wooden dowels represent the nature, and acrylic tubes add a synthetic layer that was brought to ecosystem by people. Having two different kinds of materials for the individual pieces adds to the complexity, without overwhelming the viewer with chaos. There is no single algorithm used for each link, just like in nature there is no single formula that lifeforms follow; the overall creation is quite sculptural and ephemeral. Inspired by fractals, the natural beauty of the installation emerges out of precise and diligent procedure. Uniform pieces of two different materials are attached to each other in different ways, allowing some parts of the cluster to move freely, while the others are static. The interaction between the pieces creates its own emergent pattern, allowing the structure to morph and evolve. On top of that, after being part of the installation, the dowels and tubes will find their way into other projects, since both are completely reusable and recyclable.

Q: What was the thinking behind the suspension of the piece? Would this work have the same meaning if it was anchored to the ground?

Gravity plays a key role in our installation. The installation is built based on principle of mobile, which means it is a structure hanging above ground, and relies on balance and movement to achieve visual effect. Mobile is made of the series of elements or modules, that all come together to a one composition by wire, string or metal rods connections. Unlike traditional sculptures, mobiles do not remain static, they set in motion by air currents, by every slight flow. The thorough design of each of its parts, as well as the object as whole, creates an equilibrium that brings the core concept and provide exceptional aesthetics. Also, the overhead structure gives the opportunity to the observer to walk under and observe it from various angles.

Q: Yonge + St. Clair is home to many different art forms, what compelled you to participate in this project and what initiatives are you excited to see in the area?

Nowadays, interactive installations that are balancing on the edge of different medias, parametric sculptures that have an ability not only a be centrepiece but represent certain function (e.g. data collection) for the space it is located in. There is a trend computational design based on research and experimentation, or on the intersection of various disciplines. Mix of techniques and approaches is highly explored today and that is what Equilibrium represents. Competitions, like this one, have high importance in giving opportunities to emerging design collectives to showcase their work and to community to interact with it.


Q: As artists, do you think your works collectively has residing themes that you’re interested in, and if so, what are they?

We both tend to create pieces that are about space-making, considering our design and art backgrounds. Sometimes works are brief-driven, some are material-driven, but overall, we always strive for bringing unconventional and interactive aspects to the work. We advocate for creating landmarks, making places, animating the space for viewer to look, to engage, to interact.
We exist in a network of relationships – visible and invisible, conscious and unconscious. We connect directly and indirectly to other people, things, concepts, events, places, everything around us. Those relationships are physical, virtual, metaphorical, ephemeral, spiritual, transient, and dynamic. They create a connective tissue; and, as artists, we work on this tissue, tracing and redefining it.

Q: What role do you think public art plays in the creative and design process of buildings and neighbourhoods?

Ideally, at some point, public art would define the neighbourhoods, but in the meantime, it creates points of interests and changes of pace, encouraging pedestrian traffic, human-scale interactions, helping to shape local culture. A community, like Yonge + St.Clair, creates a great platform for emerging and established artists to reach out to public, to share their vision in a very approachable way. It is about bringing art to the neighbourhood, making people feeling more identified with art because it is happening locally. We believe that conventional way of museum-based art display will be seen less in the future, and the boundaries between art and everyday life will be getting more blurred.

Q: What can we expect in the future from both of you? Are you focused on large-scale installations in the public realm, or does your art take different forms?

We do intend to continue our collaborations, most likely large- or medium-scale installations, but our art does take different forms, and we believe the key is stay open-minded and be ready to explore. We believe in our productive collaboration, where Natalia B. and her Interspatial design collective bring projects are focused on animating interstitial urban environments and facilitating autonomy in the making of personal and public spaces. She is currently working on research project for an opportunity of creating an work-live urban habitat out of shipping containers in urban/rural area in west coast of Japan. At the same time, Natalia T. and her Blueprint Jam’s work spans across many genres – fine art, theatre, design, and performance, focusing on different scales and different levels of interaction between collaborators. Upcoming project in the works for Natalia T. is a set design for an original-script play, to open in late May in Barrie, ON.
We believe that, working in different techniques and art languages create diversity and brings fresh ideas to our collaboration, and where we area able to create projects like “Equilibrium”.

Thanks Natalia + Natalia!


Equilibrium will be up within the lobby of 2 St. Clair W from April 16th-30th for Earth Month.

Hours: Monday- Friday 8:00am-6:00pm

Reception: Sunday, April 22nd 10:00am-4:00pm