Tom Dean

The Floating Staircase

Artist Tom Dean has been an instrumental teacher, mentor and cultural catalyst. In 1978 at A Space Gallery in Toronto, he and co-curator Matt Harley challenged norms of display by installing a show of iconoclastic drawings on clotheslines. Three important artists from the Cameron House period, Andy Fabo, Oliver Girling and Rae Johnson, met while participating in this exhibition and later went on to help form the ChromaZone Collective in 1981. The Floating Staircase is video documentation that stems from another ambitious project by Dean, where from 1978 to 1981 he constructed an epic six-metre-high wooden staircase that floated in the waters of Lake Ontario near the shores of Cherry Beach, Toronto. After continual headaches with harbour authorities, Andy Fabo reported that Dean “burned the sculpture in a private ritual in 1982, but not before giving it a Dionysian public send-off at the Palais Royale, a decaying big band-era dance hall on the waterfront.” The video documents this ritualistic fire and has become one of the artist’s most iconic artworks.
The Floating Staircase
Time-Based Media
videotape, 23:00 minutes on 3/4" cassette
Credit line
Purchased 1984
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