Guerrilla photography

When Dufferin hits Queen the road ends briefly. On the north side of the three-way intersection is a retaining wall holding earth in place that supports the rail tracks a few feet above. There is just a small strip of dirt on the top of the retaining wall and a chain-link fence. That dirt is now home to flowers planted by our local Guerrilla Gardeners, I recently discovered. But just behind the narrow garden lies another unexpected guerrilla act: photographer and Spacing contributor Davin Risk has attached a handful of tiny photographs to the top of small stakes and stuck them in the ground. They remind me of the plastic thingys that help the uneducated learn the name of the plant they’re looking at. Instead, Davin’s photos are of mundane and battle-scared Toronto. The images are taken from his photoblog which is full of beautiful and extremely understated images of Toronto’s urban underbelly.


  1. Thanks Matt

    I placed the 36 images behind the fence on the first day of the Contact festival (as a bit of a passive reaction to the expense of being part of Contact) and I’ve been really happy to walk past them frequently since and to see the occasional passer-by stop to ponder them.

    It’s an interesting spot for a few reasons.

    People tend to ignore these spaces which fits with a lot of my photography which is in part about the traces that people leave behind that get hidden in plain sight. When I was installing these quite a few people seemed to not see me at all just a couple of feet from them behind the fence.

    The area behind the fence also gets quite lush and overgrown during the summer and I’ve liked that my photos are being more and more hidden from view while also being protected from the elements. Three of the photos have fallen off over the month of so they’ve been up and two of those were taken home by someone which is cool.

    I love outdoor art and seeing my own images weather and change is really wonderful.

  2. There was a beautiful abandoned building there that I was able to gain access to just a day before it was demolished.

    Can’t wait to check these out when I return; and to see how they plan to connect Dufferin to its lower half.

  3. I am a true supporter of correcting the Dufferin Jog. However I do not support the design as proposed to re-connect Dufferin through Queen.
    The designers of this project failed to identify the most important option which in turn would benfit the community and city as a whole.
    There were 5 options identified, one of which proposed a depressed railway and restoring Dufferin / Queen to historic area grade. That option was determined to be costly and not feesiable for this site, which im in agreement with
    However if they could consider depressing the railway why did they not consider elevating the rail corridor over the intersection?
    This option of an elevated railway corridor:
    -Eliminates the need to undertake heavy earth excavation.
    -Eliminates the need to demolish the historic abutments.
    -Structures the site to allow for future development of the railtrail under an elevated rail corridor. As it is, the railway lands are not for sale and will not be at any time soon in the future.
    -Protects for future development of a rapid transit station either to service a Georgetown corridor service or Queen LRT or downtown relief line.
    -Does not inconvieance transit users on the 501 Queen service.
    (Once the proposed design of the Dufferin Jog is complete passengers on the 501 Queen streetcar utlizing the current W.B. Gladstone stop will have to walk a full city block to transfer to the 29 Dufferin Bus when that service is removed from Gladstone. E.B. service not affected)
    -Developers and the city could have come together to form a secondary plan for this area. Once that was in place the Ontario Ministry of Transportation could have been brought on board to partner in the constructon of such an elevated rail corridor under move 2020. The Georgetown corridor T.O.R.’s were submitted in 2006 and no action has been taken on the file to date.
    -Then there is the strachan avenue / rail grade separation project. An elevated rail corridor would address this issue and leave the road to grade.
    The important thing to consider is that the Lakeshore rail corridor, which Strachan avenue goes over, is due south of the Georgetown crossing.
    A depressed strachan avenue to cross the Georgetown corridor would put in place a road that goes down – up -up – down. Alternatively, going over the corridor would put in place a road that goes up – down – up – down.
    So an elevated Georgetown rail corridor is best for here and strachan avenue road users only have to go up – down over the Lakeshore rail corridor.
    The design proposed for the Dufferin Jog project is not very good planning. The City of Toronto is discarding an opportunity to capitlize on the full value of this project.

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