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The things they carried curated by Tairone BastienMirrors of Babel, 2018

Mirrors of Babel, 2018
Photo: Artist Rendering

eL Seed - Paris, France / Gabes, Tunisia

Mirrors of Babel is a multipart installation that proposes an inversion of the legend in which humanity’s linguistic divisions begin with the destruction of a tower. Inspired by Toronto’s pluralism, eL Seed sets out to present new structures of common purpose interweaving references that honour the complex interactions of Indigenous and immigrant voices within Canada.

Two works sited at Yonge-Dundas Square and Scarborough Civic Centre are constructed of calligraphic architecture based on an Arabic translation of Prairie Greyhounds (1903), a two-part poem by Mohawk poet, writer and performance artist E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake). The poem’s first half, which describes a westward journey to the “Land to Be,” shapes eL Seed’s work at Yonge-Dundas. The work is Scarborough is based on the poem’s second half, about a return journey home to the east.

The ambient music at Yonge-Dundas Square is a sonic response to eL Seed's Mirrors of Babel, created by the Iraqi-Canadian DJ and multi-media artist, Narcy. At 10pm, Narcy will perform his sonic response live on the YDS stage. The performance will also include a live reading of E. Pauline Johnson's poem "Prarie Greyhounds," in the original English and in Arabic translation.

eL Seed also invited five Toronto graffiti artists to create murals inside SRT stations between the two sites, offering individual reflections on the Babel story and its relevance to the city’s newcomers. eL Seed’s work is an act of visual translation attempting to bridge cultural divides reaching out to many communities and peoples, addressing the perspective of self in relation to land, culture and the region known as Toronto.

French-Tunisian artist eL Seed has exhibited in public spaces, galleries and institutions around the world, blending Arabic calligraphy with graffiti to focus viewers’ attention on the poetry, meaning and movement of words. Through his work, he aims to create dialogue, promote tolerance and change global perceptions of what Arabic means. eL Seed won the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture in 2017 and was named a Global Thinker in 2016 by Foreign Policy for his project Perception in Cairo. He has been a TED Fellow since 2015.

Multi-Part, Multi-Venue Installation


STYLL We All Have Stories The things they carried Major Institutions Independent Projects Experiential Activations Event Centre

Yonge-Dundas Square

200 Town Centre Court (outside of Scarborough Town Centre)

Suitable for all ages

Thank you to Clayton Windatt and Guy Pavelo.

This project is outdoors.