Too Good to be True
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This thesis presents a portrait of cultural diversity filtered through a lens of memory, experience and architecture. What does diversity look like? Where do we experience diversity? How unrestrained is our experience of it? Although cultural identity is tied to both personal experience and memory, Toronto’s experience of diversity has evolved with the growth of the city. Consequently, Toronto’s cultural diversity is today experienced through a limited and problematic architectural and marketing-based framework. These frameworks make ethnicity more accessible, but also limit our experience of it. I propose to release these limitations by highlighting the frameworks within which we view our various ethnicities. These are 1) the marketing of ethnic products to consumers (specifically Loblaws Presidents Choice, No Name and Memories Of…products) and 2) architectural uniformity. I examine these issues by recounting personal experiences with my family in South Western Ontario; by conducting a typological study of Toronto’s storefront restaurants – a portrait of a city which expands on the representation of industrial landscapes made by Bernd and Hilla Becher and the study of social types made by August Sander; and through my own experience of the street food and outdoor markets of Thailand. However, to highlight such constraints did not seem enough. So I created a white, unmarked model of a typical Toronto restaurant façade (formerly a shop front.) This tabula rasa suggests the possibility for an alternative strategy by showing the limitations of the channels through which we are forcing cultural diversity. The blank shop front model brings us back to a starting point from which cultural diversity can be reconsidered.