The Halifax Explosion reverberates as a definitive historic moment around which themes of destruction, reconstruction, urbanism, and community continue to circulate. From 2014 through 2017, as the centenary of the Explosion approaches, Narratives in Space + Time Society (NiS+TS) has presented a number of public walking events designed to explore the ways in which the disaster, the ensuing relief efforts, and the reconstruction continue to shape the diverse experiences and understandings of this city.

Founded in 2012 and based in Halifax and Dartmouth, NiS+TS is an interdisciplinary creative research group that promotes walking and the use of mobile media by artists and members of the public. The group’s projects are situated in spaces that are often overlooked, disused, or vacant. Participants use walking, talking, and making objects in combination with technologies such as GPS, smartphones, and mobility tracking devices to conduct interactive explorations of locations and subjects.

Utilizing research methods such as psychogeography, an experiential approach to drifting through urban space devised by the French theorist Guy Debord, and creation models that emphasize interdisciplinary collaborations, the exhibition features new projects created by NiS+TS to mark the Halifax Explosion’s 100th commemoration.

Claire Hodge: Negotiations
Curated by Peter Dykhuis

The Hydrostone neighbourhood, now nearly one hundred years old, is one of the most striking legacies of the Halifax Explosion. It stands as a powerful testament to the reconstruction efforts required to house the working-class families who were left homeless by the events of the Explosion. For many, however, the Hydrostone’s appeal lies in its unique ability to express the passage of time: in this neighbourhood, layers of the present co-exist with traces of the past. The original grey granite ‘hydrostone’ blocks live anachronistically side-by-side with a dizzying array of wood, composite, and vinyl siding materials. Extensions have been added, shutters have been removed, exterior walls have been painted, porches have been closed in, and trees, shrubs, and gardens have been cultivated.

Halifax artist Claire Hodge has systematically photographed all of the existing homes to create a portrait of the changing face of a landmark neighbourhood. Hodge notes, “The Hydrostone townhomes reveal a complex set of negotiations realized tacitly or explicitly by the people who have lived there. Some blocks of houses are united in their aesthetic vision. Others seem to attest to greater individualist streaks and look strangely disjointed. Most often, the blocks of houses suggest a series of compromises between harmony and difference, between the ‘greater good’ and tenacious individualism.”