Commissioned for MOCA Toronto’s ongoing Lightbox series, Crown land (2023) is a new interactive work by Patrick Cruz that operates as playful self-critique, as well as to facilitate discussion around the entanglement of artists and arts institutions with the real estate industry, within the legacy of Canadian settler colonialism.
In Crown land, Cruz inserts a school portrait of himself aged fifteen into a fictional realtor’s advertisement. Adopting the visual language of real estate advertising, Cruz reflects on his own path to becoming an artist; the sleek professionalism taught in art schools and that is demanded by a market-driven art world. The first ever self-portrait by an artist who often rejects figurative representation, Crown land proposes that alongside artworks themselves, identity has also become something to be bought, sold and speculated upon.
Cruz interprets MOCA’s exterior Lightbox as a billboard, the work’s site-specificity suggesting that artists and arts institutions cannot escape context, physical or otherwise. In this way, Crown land asks: What does it mean for the art world in Toronto to be so entwined with real estate, especially when the notion of land ownership is so complex? And what impact does this entangled relationship — especially in relation to funding — have on artistic practice and production?
Cruz’s self-reflexivity performs the important labour of initiating discourse around these contradictions, acknowledging the role that artists and institutions play as gentrifying forces within our urban landscape.
About the Artist
Patrick Cruz (b. 1987) is an artist and educator born in Quezon City, Philippines, who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Cruz studied painting at the University of the Philippines Diliman and received a certificate in Pochinko clowning. He holds an MFA from the University of Guelph and a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. His practice is informed by the intersections of folk spirituality, diasporic experience and the role of play within clownhood.
Cruz is an Assistant Professor in Studio Art at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough and Daniels campuses and is a co-founder of the curatorial collective Kamias Special Projects, which hosts the Kamias Triennial. In 2021, he received the Thirteen Artist Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines, was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award in 2019 and won the 17th RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2015.
Selected solo and group presentations of Cruz’s work have taken place at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2021), the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, Manila (2022), Whose Museum, Malmö, Sweden (2019), the 1st Manila Biennale (2018), Oakville Galleries, Canada (2018), Gasworks, London, UK (2017), Plug In ICA, Winnipeg (2017) and the Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Vancouver (2016).