Dean Baldwin’s Mini Bar
4 May – 30 October 2009

Scaled down fully functioning dive bar complete with miniature martinis

Inspired by the spirit of hobbyism – where middle aged, overwhelmingly suburban males diligently miniaturize things like ships in bottles and train sets – Baldwin built the Mini Bar to evoke a similar, childlike sense of wonder in smallness. Only here dollhouse naivety comes with undertones of addiction, substance abuse, alcoholism, solicitation and debauchery. ‘It flirts with the hemisphere of a cutesy theme bar’ says Baldwin. Then it grabs its coat and heads to destinations altogether different. Stoop through the saloon doors and the bar is redolent of a bygone era of drinkery; a little liquor cabinet (furnished with the spirit miniatures from international flights) has been louchely restocked and the usual (mini) bar paraphernalia mingled with sweat, smoke and telltale sirens from near by Mare Street. While the original inspiration for the Mini Bar was the sprawl and scale of Canada’s landscape, this incarnation was pure Hackney.

Only erected – once inhabited by punters and serving drinks - does the Mini Bar exist. On tour at the Basel art fair it was became a ‘local’ for dealers to celebrate or commiserate, socially instructive and a repository for elation and despair. While at SPACE it will become a social hub for studios, staff and visitors manned by the nearest and thirstiest able-bodied artist. It is a communal, functional permeable structure – part of its manifesto is to be kept unlocked and fully stocked – to be inhabited, not inspected. ‘Without the social interaction it’s a sculptural shell.’ Says Baldwin. ‘Now put down the pen, and let me make you a drink.’

Dean Baldwin lives and works in Toronto. He completed a BFA at York University, Toronto and an MFA at the University of Concordia, Montreal.

At the beginning of June, Baldwin directed Reverse Pedagogy 2 at the 53rd Venice biennale where he led a group of artists in canoes on a canal voyage. This same group lived communally for the first 10 days of the biennale in a 16th century Venetian Palazzo, using this environment as their own art school. They determined their activities as a collective, and exchanged methods and ideas.

As part of Canadian Pavillions opening event, Baldwin staged his Algonquin Tiki Tiki Hut - an installation that doubles conveniently as a bar.

Recent projects include; Sweet Dreams for Nuit Blanche at the JMB Gallery, Toronto; Seducing Down the Door for Mercer Union, and Never Been to Tehran for venues in Iran, Turkey, Denmark, New Zealand, Germany and the USA.

Since 2003 SPACE has hosted the Canada Council for the Arts International Residency programme in London. The programme was created to help Canadian artists develop, promote and distribute their work internationally. The residency provides the expenses, travel, production costs and residency fees for two Canadian artists a year to live and work in London for six months.

Links to recent projects: