Toronto Photo Essay: Bottomless

Photographs and writing by guest contributor Brendan George Ko.

On August 18, 2007 at 8am, I started work as a promotional photographer for a film. The location was the old Cadet Cleaners building in the west end of Toronto, Ontario. My experience in this place were documented through photography but later with my words as an entry in my journal.

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No one cares to look for a place in ruins. Those who come to this place are without homes and are in need of shelter. It is a place I visited for a day, breathed the thick air of a building that hasn't seen better days for what seems like a century. Broken walls, blown out windows, and piss-shit cans where the homeless sleep. Only those who are desperate dwell here. One day of exposure in this type of place made me sick myself, I couldn't imagine how people can live here. But then again, the person I did encounter was drinking fluids that should only be poured into the mouths of cars.

Out of all of this I found interest in the chairs. They seemed like the only thing left from the people that used to work here. The chairs simply remain here, some possibly still in the same spot from the day of their abandonment. As I was documenting them, I took notice that they all seemed to be placed into personifying positions, as if they had a life force of their own. Strange things would happen as I returned to them later on in the day. Some of the chairs would be in different positions, others completely changed; upside down or on top of each other. Aside from the film crew below, the second floor was completely abandoned - the only one who was here before was a homeless man that had left a few hours earlier.

It was this unseen movement that intrigued me to do this series. I made sure I didn't disturb any of the chairs and wanted everything to be in its nature. I look back at being in that building and I wonder why I wasn't afraid of being somewhere that had this strange, unexplained movement going on. Maybe it is because the chairs looked so peaceful, like they did not have to have someone's bottom sitting on them all day. They had open air and their own home here in the ruins of this abandoned warehouse.


Toronto Photo Essays are visual, themed collections of photographs submitted by readers of blogTO and members of the blogTO Flickr Pool. We appreciate the interactive, collaborative nature of this column, and encourage readers to submit photo essays for future consideration.

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