Labspace Studio Toronto

Deconstructing Hip at Labspace Studio

This Saturday Toronto east-end Arts Collective Labspace Studio will be breaking in their new space on Pape (photo at top) with an art/music extravaganza they're calling "Lab Sessions 4.0: Deconstructing Hip".

Among other stimuli, the show will feature a whack of visuals from local and international artists including musical sets by local electro power-pop rockers Styrofoam Ones and electro-rap duo Times Neue Roman.

Earlier today I connected with Labspace Studio's John Loerchner who filled me in on the drama that led to Labspace moving locations this past Summer and what to expect on Saturday night.

Why did you guys move locations and what's new or better about your new space?

That question is a little more loaded than you might think. Here's the real story in convention point (and roughly dated) form.

Early 2008
We start having conversations about how we may need a bigger space.

April 12th, 2008
Lab Sessions 3.0 is held. During that event one of the guests "tags" several doors and walls in the building (276 Carlaw).

April 14th, 2008
Gykan Enterprises (The corporation who owns the building) serves us with an eviction notice requesting that we evacuate the premises within two weeks.

April 15th
We respond and request that we are given at least until the end of May to find a new location. After a day or so of deliberation this is granted.

Shortly after this we began a hunt for a new space. At first we were quite upset at being in this situation, however, as we had been considering moving to a new and larger space prior this was ultimately viewed as something that "happened for a reason".

Mid May
Given that finding locating an affordable commercial space in the downtown area is actually quite a challenge we requested an additional month at 276 Carlaw to find a new space. After much deliberation on Gykan's part an unexpected proposal was returned.

Gykan offered us not only the additional month but the opportunity to fulfill our lease (which expired at the end of June). We were then offered the opportunity to RENEW our lease and stay for an additional year (aka the eviction was null and void). We promptly accepted the offer to stay out the term of our existing lease and just as promptly refused to renew it.

This decision was made for two reasons:

1. We knew we needed a larger and more accommodating facility as discussed some time prior...

2. The administration at Gykan Enterprises had been so unprofessional and tempermental that we knew dealing with them in the future could be detrimental to our business.

Following that we were thrown out into the nasty world of searching for an affordable, accessible warehouse/studio/loft type space within the Toronto area. That pain aside we found a space that we are both very happy with and very proud of. For posterity and a reality check I might mention that the search required somewhere around....

- 120 hours searching online listings
- 80 hours walking/biking around the city looking for "for lease" signs
- 500 phone calls
- Multiple conversations with 30+ real estate agents
- 60 hours reading and reviewing paperwork
- and let's not bother mentioning the actual cash dropped aside from saying for what we got it was a good deal though it felt prohibitively expensive

To address the second part of your question, what's "better" about the new space.

1. The agreement with the landlord is much more...agreeable
2. The performance/rehearsal area and overall space is much larger (1000sq/ft open area, 2175 current total facility, 2675 total facility once renovations are complete)
3. Ceilings are higher (which has many benefits one may not consider at first)
4. Ground floor access
5. We've renovated the space ourselves so the over design fits our bill to a tee
6. The floors - you'll understand when you see them

The event this Saturday sounds pretty audacious - "a sociological investigation and cultural excavation" - in a nutshell, what should people expect?

It was never intended to be audacious. We selected the topic of "hip" because it is timely and it seems to be something that is garnering a lot of attention. Our intent with The Lab Sessions is to stimulate conversation about topics that are currently "top of mind". If you look back on our past shows I think that is apparent; Nodes & Naughty Code (Emotion and Technology), Idol Love (Celebrity and Worship), Chemical Nation (The role of chemicals and synthetics in our lives).

Another key element of The Lab Sessions is to break down the barrier between the general public and the art world. We want to create an engaging atmosphere where we can present art to people who may not normally be around it. The party/event atmosphere lends to that (as opposed to cheese and wine and hyper-dignified conversation).

But to answer the question "what should people expect" more directly...

We like to call it "side-swiped" by art. We bring together a menagerie of work (video, traditional, performance, music, etc) and present it in a format that may almost appear haphazard to the audience. Performances will come from any direction at any time. People spend most of the evening snapping their head around trying to catch what's next and browsing the installed work in between.

All in all it's a good time infused with though inspiring stimulations.

Do people need to RSVP to attend or can they just show up?

They don't have to RSVP but we prefer if they do. It makes things easier on us.

Lab Sessions 4.0: "Deconstructing Hip" takes place at Labspace Studio (2A Pape Avenue @ Eastern) this Saturday October 25th from 7pm until midnight. The cost is $10 after 9PM.

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