‘Tribute’ is a large-scale textile installation by Omar Tarek Zayed and Linjuan Dai that investigates Toronto’s lost river networks. This work seeks to re-contextualize the city’s landscape as we know it, by paying homage to the once vibrant freshwater network that flowed and carved through the city. ‘Tribute’ proposes an imagined landscape via abstract interventions that centre these historical rivers.
Informed by data collected from the Lost Rivers Toronto organization, and ArcGIS data, Omar and Linjuan have conceived a multi-layered composition that illustrates the maps of Toronto’s existing, lost, and imagined water ways. With consideration to the fluid nature of the subject matter, the digitally designed maps will be translated using a batik silk painting technique.
Omar and Linjuan are rethinking how cartography is made and represented, employing batik as a technical means of subverting the way in which land is understood and documented. Batik can be characterized as a surface design method where hot, liquid wax is applied onto a fabric as a resist to silk dyes. Batik, in this case, produces little to no defined lines, leaving room for uncontrolled material expressions that mirror the movement of water.
Embodying precision, but not a precision that we are familiar with, this collaborative work employs a multidisciplinary approach using data, community-led research, and craft methodologies to uncover the history behind Toronto’s hidden network of water systems. ‘Tribute’ seeks to critically examine the artificiality of our city’s landscape while proposing speculative geographic futures in honour of Toronto’s waterways.