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2012
Toronto

Ou Topos - Abandoned Trailer Project

In April 2009, officials from Toronto City Hall found a Starcraft camper trailer hidden behind engineering supports in the underground parking garage.

Toronto, Canada (2012)
with references to: Ou Topos - Apartment Project, Vienna, Austria (1988/89).

These two legacies are linked by the protagonist’s biographies.  The Toronto trailer triggered by Tino’s discovery of his grandfather's legacy in Vienna 1989, the year he was born.

In April 2009, officials from Toronto City Hall found a Starcraft camper trailer hidden behind engineering supports in the complex's underground parking garage. Inside the trailer were jumbles of personal notes, scientific papers, manuscripts, what appeared to be family photographs, mementos, numerous odd objects and vast quantities of canned goods wrapped in lead. Some of these cans had fallen onto the parking garage floor when the trailer was abandoned hurriedly.

An investigation into the ownership of the trailer and the circumstances of it having come to be concealed in the bowels of the garage revealed a complex, cross-border, intergenerational story, about the fears of nuclear catastrophe. Owned by German Canadian Tino Gerny (b. Amstetten, Austria, 1989) the trailer served as a survivalist den and represented the man's urgent, paranoid efforts to prepare for what he believed to be an inevitable atomic conflagration.

Found in the trailer were the remnants of a large package postmarked from Sudbury in 2008 and a handwritten letter from his mother Gisela Gerny (née Knieschevsky). In the letter to her son Gerny explained that her father and Tino's grandfather, Paul Knieschevsky, (b. Petrovsk, Sarativ Oblast, 1926) had hidden himself away in an apartment in Vienna where he methodically prepared for the end of the world. The letter described that when her father died in 1989, she took some of his possessions from his apartment. She brought them to Canada in 1992 when she emigrated with her three year old son.

Among the things Gerny brought with her from Austria were sheets of rolled lead, old stamps, some of the lead-wrapped cans, tattered notebooks, some photographs and clippings from various European newspapers, including one about the late Ukrainian photographer Vladimir Shevchenko's trip to Chernobyl directly after the catastrophic nuclear accident of April 26, 1986. This clipping included a photograph that Shevchenko took of deformed oak leaves he had collected. When Gerny cleaned out her house in Sudbury, she decided to tell her son about his grandfather and to give him what remained of his possessions.

Shown at: the Museum of the End of the World, Nuit Blanche Toronto 2012

Artist Interview by Fran Schechter: www.nowtoronto.com/guides/nuitblanche/2012/story.cfm?content=188845

 

Artifacts found in the trailer in 2012: chrystal ball, copy of Brehm's Tierleben, (a German animal encyclopedia from around 1890) and science clippings from August 2012 showing a silhouette schemata of Pale Blue Grass Zizeeria Maha Butterfly with wing-deformations, collected in Fukushima, Japan. Also: hand-stamped wall-paper, displaying Vladimir Shevchenko's silhouette shot of deformed oak-leaves. Stencil and rubber-stamp of oak-leaves. Empty spray-paint bottle (Hunters Green).


Iris Häussler wishes to acknowledge the support of the following funders