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Chloë Bass

Photo credit: Jueqian Fang

Chloë Bass's public sculpture, Chloë Bass: Perspective Alignment at The Bentway Skate Trail, Toronto, Canada. 

The Bentways's press release follows:

Chloë Bass’ sculptural benches, formed from solid Ontario rock and engraved with poetic reflections, welcome visitors to sit alongside a friend (or stranger) and consider the difficult  but necessary work of softening our perspectives towards one another through empathy and care.

Following years of social distancing and isolation, our cities are in the midst of a slow recovery and we are learning again how to be close to one another. 

Brooklyn artist Chloë Bass’ new work Perspective Alignment draws on the mental health term that emphasizes the importance of recovery in proximity to one’s community, and the sharing of social values and experiences that are crucial to that recovery. Bass extends this concept to consider the many forms of recovery that shape our current moment, which has been informed by forms of violence and control including colonisation, policing of bodies and their proximities, and the imposition of boundaries, borders, monuments, and legislation. 

Perspective Alignment is a series of sculptural benches made from Ontario rock and engraved with reflections on recovery in its many forms: the relationship between historical trauma and contemporary social health, the intertwining themes of cultivation and wildness, and the inability of traditional monuments to provoke recovery and healing.  

Each stone bench bears its own engraved text and the silhouette of a tree local to the landscape at one time. The texts, taken together, comprise a loose poem, aligning multiple perspectives on recovery from across time: The Bentway’s proximity to Fort York with its colonial and military history, and its many unresolved violences, losses, and transformations; and the ways mental health and well-being are affected by the past, which is always, as Bass says, “nipping at the heels of present balance.”  

The tree silhouettes that accompany the texts are drawn from three timelines of the natural world: the sandbar willow that was present before colonisation and long before The Bentway became a human-cultivated park (“wilderness”); the trembling aspen that was added as a result of The Bentway’s park design (“cultivation”); and the redbud, which is yet-to-come but might be anticipated as invasive species as a result of climate change (“future”).   

Situated across The Bentway site, Bass’ work invites visitors to sit alongside a friend or stranger and reflect on our historical and contemporary collective health and well-being, undertaking the difficult but necessary work of softening our perspectives towards one another through empathy and care. Through collective proximity, and upon the hard weight of the past, there can be the creation of a new kind of living monument, which is the possibilities that are created when people share space and align perspective.