You Can’t Stay Mad at the ‘Fake Lake’.
By Maria Piacente, VP Exhibitions, Lord Cultural Resources
Recently, there has been much hype around a small body of water located at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto as part of the Experience Canada Program. The so-called “fake lake” that we created for the G8/G20 Accredited Media Centre has become infamous across the nation and the world. It’s been interesting to read the reportage around what started out as a simple design element – a water feature created as part of an overall series of experiences that tells a particular story of Canada that is responds to the goals of our client and the opportunity to communicate to the international media. Although the water feature is but a part of a larger “exhibit” that includes investment and technology excellence, it has truly taken on a life of its own.
“We should all be ashamed””Read how one journalist has changed his mind about the Fake Lake:http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/06/25/fake-lake-wake/
While all forms of cultural production are loaded with meaning depending on the context in which it is created and consumed (not to mention the identities of the creators and patrons), the controversy of the “fake lake” makes clear that culture is not a separate realm of its own, but sits rather at the intersection of economics and politics. What is particularly interesting in this instance is how the water feature has become the convergence point of so many interconnected discourses of governance, politics, economics and the public interest.
It is clear that the “fake lake” has galvanized diverse groups and individuals who have used it as a means to make more visible a multitude of issues which otherwise may not be within the purview of the mass media and general public. This increase of awareness of complex issues can be a great benefit to society, especially in today’s globalized world. When we create something and insert it into the public realm there is always the risk of controversy. But controversy can be positive so long as we are able to learn from it and endeavor to understand how such controversy came to be.
Like it or not, this water feature has caused quite a stir, arousing feelings of indignation, curiosity, wonder and amusement. On the Experience Canada website, one journalist wrote about how unimpressive the Lake was. The next day someone wrote “today I heard the birds chirping as a sate in a Muskoka chair, so how can I stay mad at you fake lake?”