Los Carpinteros, artists’ rendering of Cardboard Beach, 2014
Courtesy Luminato Festival

Each yearthe Luminato Festival is held in Toronto—a multidisciplinary event that gathers renowned national and international artists from the fields of dance, theater, music, films, literature and visual arts, turning the city into an effervescent place of creativity and celebration. This year the Festival, held June 6–15, invited the Cuban art group Los Carpinteros to create an intervention at the festival’s geographic hub: David Pecaut Square in downtown Toronto.

Los Carpinteros, artists’ rendering of Cardboard Beach, detail, 2014
Courtesy Luminato Festival

For the occasion, Dagoberto Rodríguez and Marco A. Castillo created a new project inspired by the event’s own characteristics: its festive nature, its celebration of summer, its dynamism and urban location. Cardboard Beach (Playa de cartón) is the “environment” that was created from this opportunity. Umbrellas, sun loungers, breakwaters, cabins, and even a Coast Guard station now cover the square, turning it into an “oasis” in the middle of the city. The installation gives the plaza a different look each day, as it’s reconfigured in response to the concerts and other activities taking place there. Each element of the installation—104 pieces in all—has been built of cardboard, giving the work a homogenous look, like a multi-part sculpture.

Recent watercolors by Los Carpinteros, such as Tumbonas de Madera IV, 2012, or Sombras III, 2013, have indicated their interest in beach furniture and its adaptation to other settings. On the other hand, the artists have been exploring the “cardboard” aesthetic for some time, in works like the large-format installation El Barrio, 2007, and the smaller-format Podium, 2008, which underscore the material’s temporary and portable character. This installation, then, is a synthesis of both explorations.

Los Carpinteros, Sombras III, 2013
Courtesy drawingof.com

As with previous works by Los Carpinteros, Cardboard Beach takes great interest in the nature and function of different spaces. To bring the beach to the city, the illusion of sand, sea breezes, and ocean waves to the angular severity of the public plaza, is to create a niche of freedom and creativity.  However, those who use and enjoy it are conscious as well that it is an ephemeral experience.

Cardboard Beach runs June 6–15 at David Pecaut Square, Toronto, as part of the 2014 Luminato Festival.

Meyken Barreto is a Cuban art critic and curator. She has been professor at Havana University and San Geronimo College in Havana, and has lectured at international education institutions such as the Universidad Computense in Madrid and Martin Luther University, Halle (Saale). She received the national curatorship award in 2009 in Cuba for the anthological show: Tanda Corrida. Cuban audiovisual exhibitions 2005-2008. Her researches focus on video and contemporary art from Cuba. She recently curated the video program for the exhibition Cuban America: An Empire State on Mind, presented at the Lehman College Art Gallery in New York. She has contributed to various art publications and catalogues.