Rouzbeh Akhbari was born in 1992 in Iran. He is installation and video artist currently based in Toronto. His practice is situated within a postcolonial discourse that is mainly interventionist in approach and addresses the public realm.
His ongoing research engages with global socio-political conundrums that translate into architectures of conflict, defensive urbanisms and the semiotics of imperial architecture. Akhbari is a founding member at ADL collective and the co-director of Centre for Counter Monumental Activities. He has exhibited projects at la Fabrique Culturelle des Abattoirs (Casablanca), Birch Contemporary (Toronto), 8-eleven (Toronto), Art Museum of Nanjing University (Nanjing) and YTB gallery (Toronto), as well as co-authoring a chapter for the Unsettling Colonial Modernity edited volume in Cambridge, UK. He received the departmental medal upon graduation at OCAD University and is currently a graduate MVS fellow at University of Toronto’s School of Architecture, Landscape and Design.
The Institutional Stabilizer series is the result of a yearlong investigative project on the genealogy of the Greco-Roman column as an imperial signifier of political will and social power on two locations including the Canadian Heritage site, the Grange, and the art deco façade of Bank of Nova Scotia’s former headquarters in Toronto’s financial district.
The material reification of this project is the documented transformation of 29 abandoned shipping skids into an additional pillar for the decommissioned portico of the Art Gallery of Ontario. To explain the project quite literally, it is an additional and wholly unnecessary structural support for a decorative architectural component (the portico) that is solely meant to uphold an ‘image’ of stability and colonial power on the façade of the building. The second half of the project exists as a continuation of the first stabilizer and materially originates from the same shipping skids that made up the pillar at the Grange. After another labour-intensive process of disassembly and reassembly, the column was transformed back into a shipping pallet that visually embodies the amalgamation of twenty-nine skids into a singular structure. The new pallet was left at the base of a decorative relief of an ionic capital on the façade of Nova Scotia’s bank. These objects respond to a similar treatment of the Grego-Roman column as a signifier of capital within a hyper colonial and continually global context.
All documentation credits go to Francis Zhang
David Schnitman designed the accompanying catalogue with texts by Josh Elliot.