Life of a Craphead: King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don

In Oct–Nov 2017, performance artists Life of a Craphead gave a series of performances in which they dropped a life-size replica statue of King Edward VII into the Lower Don River. The sculpture floated down the river between Riverdale Park and Queen Street before it was retrieved for its next journey.

In Queen’s Park, Toronto, sits a 15-foot bronze equestrian statue of King Edward VII. The statue was originally erected in Delhi, India in 1922 to commemorate King Edward VII’s historic role as the Emperor of India. After independence in India, the statue was removed, to be destroyed; years later a prominent Toronto resident and art collector brought the statue to Toronto in appreciation of its craftsmanship. It was placed in Queen’s Park in 1969 despite public outcry and criticism.

Life of a Craphead’s project explored the histories and decisions that continue to shape Toronto’s public space and public art. Their performance created the illusion that this statue had been “dumped” in the Don River. With both humour and a sharp critical eye, the project addressed the persistence of power as it manifests in public art and public monuments – symbols that are often preserved in perpetuity, even when the stories we want to celebrate change.

This project was possible with the support of the Toronto Arts Council.

About Life of a Craphead

Life of a Craphead is the collaboration of Amy Lam and Jon McCurley since 2006. Their work spans performance art, film and curation. Performance projects include The Life of a Craphead Fifty Year Retrospective, 2006-2056 (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2013), an fake career retrospective of all the work they will ever make; Double Double Land Land (Gallery TPW, Toronto, 2009), a play interrupted by a staged wedding; and Free Lunch (2007), a public, anonymously-advertised free lunch serving everything on the menu of a Chinese restaurant.

Their first feature film Bugs (72 min., 2016) has screened in Canada and the U.S., including at Night Gallery, Los Angeles; The Western Front, Vancouver; Parsons School for Design, NYC; The Khyber Centre for the Arts, Halifax; and S1, Portland, among others. Life of a Craphead also ran and hosted the popular performance art show and online broadcast Doored (2012–2017), which has featured work by over 100 artists. Between 2006–2009, Life of a Craphead performed frequently at live comedy shows including at Laugh Sabbath (Toronto) and UCB Theatre (L.A. & NYC).

Life of a Craphead have been artists-in-residence at the Macdowell Colony, U.S.; the Banff Centre, Canada; Department of Safety, Anacortes, U.S.; Wunderbar, U.K.; New Space Arts Foundation, Hue, Vietnam; and Struts/Faucet in Sackville, NB, Canada. They are the recipients of grants and awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Their work has been featured in Canadian Art, C Magazine, Vice, and Art in America. They are Chinese and Vietnamese and live and work in Toronto, Canada.