In the mid-1950s, the entrepreneur JosephHirshhorn enlisted Philip Johnson to design autopian “town of culture” in the Canadianwilderness of Ontario, where Hirshhorn ownedmassive uranium mines. The new city was toachieve a harmonious balance between laborand leisure, providing miners with housing anda museum, sculpture park, theater, concerthall, and library. Unlike other privately fundedindustry-specific towns, it would have had aunique focus on arts and culture, access to advancesin psychological therapies, and a highlyaestheticized design throughout. The projectnever came to fruition, but documentation ofJohnson’s models and plans remain. Takingthis forgotten historical footnote as his subject, New York–based Canadian artist TerenceGower, whose works often focus on detectingshifts in ideology through architecture, presents“Public Spirit—the Hirshhorn Project.” Themultimedia installation incorporates photographsof the original maquettes, new modelsof Johnson’s design created by Gower, and adigitally animated video projection, which leadsvisitors through the imagined town. Gowerlikens the planned town and its likewiseutopian predecessors to “little quasi-socialistplanets within a capitalist universe.”
"Terence Gower" originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Modern Painters. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Modern Painters' November 2008 Table of Contents.