Tent Trailer Tree Theatre (Can’t See the Forest for the Trees)

Paul Chartrand

June 17 – July 8, 2017

Saturday, June 17 from 7-10PM

Saturday, July 8 from 2-5PM

Please note that the gallery will be closed on Saturday, July 1.

We share a complicated societal relationship with forests in Canada. They have been used for recreation, building materials, food, fuel, and material for our cultural productions. They have been privatized, made public, sold, and resold. One thing that is not often considered is the specific agency of the collective entities of forests. They possess an undeniable power to affect the human community, even if one only considers their photosynthetic ability to convert carbon dioxide to cellulose and oxygen. Trees individually have arguably little impact on the overall biological systems they are a part of; not unlike individual humans. However, when considered as a whole, both trees and humans become forces to be reckoned with.

This mobile tree farm is built from an old soft top tent trailer as a direct conceptual link to outdoor recreation and consumption of “wilderness”. The trees occupy the central body of the trailer as well as the rear bump-out section. As these trees grow, they are confronted with projections of forests which have come before them. A collaged video plays in the side bump-out sections of the trailer, composed of a blend of footage including clearcuts, planting efforts, old growth forests, and agroforestry. This videos may be viewed from inside the trailer alongside the seedlings, or in the kitchen shelter attachment which is converted into a theatre for the human audience. These projections are complemented by faint sounds of the hum of the internal irrigation and lighting system. The trailer thus becomes a method of exposing the young trees to their complicated history shared with humans; at once nurturing and destructive, parasitic and constructive.

At the closing of the exhibition, once the seedlings have been exposed to their history and the humans with whom they will be sharing the urban environment, the trees will be ready to be planted locally and the trailer will be ready to host a new generation of trees, and people.

The artist would like to acknowledge the support of The Green Legacy of the County of Wellington in providing the trees for this project.

Artist Talk & Tree-Planting Session
Saturday, July 8, 2-5PM

Join us on the final day of the exhibition for an artist talk and participatory tree-planting session. Chartrand will discuss the exhibition in relation to his overall practice. Following the talk, a carpool will transport participants from Y+ contemporary to the nearby University of Toronto Scarborough grounds, where the seedlings will be planted. No previous planting experience is necessary.

This event is produced in association with the UTSC Sustainability Office as part of a year-long partnership with the Doris McCarthy Gallery with support from the Office of the Vice-President and Principal, University of Toronto Scarborough.

Programming support for Tent Trailer Tree Theatre (Can’t See the Forest for the Trees) has been provided by the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and ArtReach Toronto.


Paul Chartrand works with constructed habitats built from found objects and integrated living components. His projects include various mediums and practical methodologies but focus particularly on sculpture and drawing. Paul finds inspiration in the blurry definitions of culture and nature; intending for his work to foster dialogue regarding this problematic dichotomy. Paul completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph in 2013 and his Master of Fine Arts at Western University for which he earned Ontario Graduate Scholarships and SSHRC funding. He has exhibited at galleries including the Niagara Artists Centre (St. Catherine’s), Roadside Attractions (Toronto), Xpace Cultural Centre (Toronto), Younger Than Beyonce Gallery (Toronto), Boarding House Gallery (Guelph), Artlab and Satellite Gallery (London), Idea Exchange (Cambridge) and the CAFKA Biennial in Kitchener.