October 7th, 2023 – December 3rd, 2023

Noah Scheinman, Research Images: (left) Nuclear Power Station at Pickering, 8/3/1971, source: Toronto Star Archives; (right) Crossing the Marsh at Beachfront Park. Images courtesy the artist.

In “HEAVY/WATER/MACHINE”, artist Noah Scheinman uses a variety of materials and research methods to explore the boundaries of Durham Region, offering a panoramic view of a landscape and community shaped by industry. Swimming along the region’s southern border in the waters of Lake Ontario and travelling by car across the region’s northern highways, Scheinman meditates on the ways humans relate to the lands we live on and the local and global industries that power our everyday lives.

“RIP/RAP” is a two-channel video, which documents the artist’s swim-performance adjacent to the nuclear power plant in Pickering and stitches together archival and present-day footage of the historic radioactive waste disposal site in Port Granby. In the former, Scheinman shows the shore of Lake Ontario to be a site of permeability. With each repeated breath, Scheinman takes in views of the land, power plant, and sky before immersing his sights in the water. Each is inseparable from the other, all part of the same system. The second film considers the contrasting timescales of a single human life and the lengthier cultural epochs associated with dominant sources of energy, including the levels of consumption they permit and the generational inheritance of energy-based waste.

Scheinman’s other works draw on a variety of industrial materials, including window vinyl, broken windshield glass, and architectural remnants to fill in his visual representation of Oshawa and Durham Region. The artist also collaborated with local clothing manufacturer Frère du Nord to produce two textile sculptures using geosynthetic fabrics, which are designed to stabilize terrain in large-scale projects, such as land rehabilitation. His appropriation of these materials offers moments of poetic reflection on the physical impacts and cultural influence of large-scale energy production. Indeed, as an expression of the artist’s ongoing research, “HEAVY/WATER/MACHINE” is a rumination on the past and present systems that fuel contemporary life and an invitation into a discourse about what the future has in store.

Installation of HEAVY/WATER/MACHINE at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2023. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.

Related Programming

Watch the discussion panel with Katie Lawson, Ryan Osman, Dave Mowat, Laura Murray, Warren Harper, and Noah Scheinman that took place on October 14, 2023.

The RBC Emerging Artist Residency Program is generously sponsored by the RBC Foundation’s Emerging Artist Project.