Timeanddesire is a pseudonym for art created individually and collaboratively by Denise St Marie and Timothy Walker. Through “street interventions,” they examine the concept of public and private spaces. Their work has been featured in the Toronto Urban Film Festival, Art of the Danforth, PARK(ing) DAY Mississauga, Tel-Talk Toronto Phone Booth Installations, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, Labspace Studio’s The Noise Project and Gallery West.
Denise: Some people call our interventions ‘street art’ but I think that term is more for graffiti and wall stencils. For me, interventions have always been signage. We look at what’s out in the world, emulate it, intervene in it and change it.
Tim: The notion of intervention comes with the surprise element that people get when they come across it. People don’t expect to see it and they’re taken aback. It’s something odd and out of place.
Denise: People walk by our signs multiple times before they catch it.
Tim: People expect to see graffiti in a city now, right? When you see it, it’s quickly put into that category in our minds. When someone puts up an official looking sign, a lot of people do double takes like, ‘What the hell is going on here?’
Denise: Or confusion. I remember a long time ago, when I first started doing it, there was an intersection where I changed all the pedestrian people into silhouettes of my friends. Someone told me they saw that intersection and thought, ‘Oh, the city is really hip and cool.’ They didn’t realize it wasn’t the city. I think an intervention can be really subversive. It’s not in your face.
Tim: An intervention to us is just a regular citizen deciding, ‘You know what? Something in this public space needs to go here,’ and they take it on their own accord to do it.
Denise: I was always inspired by the streetscape. There’s an expanse of information coming at you and the desire to hold on to a bit of the public space as your own. I look at structures and want to add to it without people going, ‘Ahhhh that’s crazy.’ I’m trying to use the structure to my advantage.
Tim: I think that’s why our studio, which is a bedroom converted into a studio, works for us. We’re the kind of people who walk around and get inspired by space. If we’re going to put up a sign in a particular corner, we definitely want to check that corner out and see what’s going on in that space. That’s where we get our inspiration–not so much the studio. Although, we do have a lot of debates and discussions here.
Denise: It’s long conversations about what we experienced outside.
Tim: We both start thinking about things conceptually or we’ll see a space in public and think, ‘Something has to be there.’ Immediately we start to brainstorm. It’s a dialogue, a conversation back and forth until the idea emerges. I don’t feel like either of us laid down any terms and conditions. The ideas happen naturally.
Denise: I was already practicing street art when I met Tim. I showed him work on a bus shelter on date one, or date two. I made this decision that anyone who was going to be part of a relationship with me would have to fully accept and embrace what I do. I had problems with that in the past. He was kind of unreactive, but I think he thought it was cool.
Tim: I think you misinterpreted my reaction! I don’t have a background in fine art, the way Denise does. She studied it in university. I had a very traditional idea of what art was and what it out to be, so when I see this bus shelter she altered, I was like, ‘What the hell is this? This is amazing.’ I hadn’t really seen anything like that before. I guess she took my shock as disinterested [laughs].
Denise: He helped me install work at the beginning. Then he went back to school for philosophy and within his philosophy degree, he started to come up with lots of ideas for art. It was very organic, a natural fit.
Tim: We always joke that every couple has to have something, which is why so many couples have kids, and we’ve decided this is our child.
Denise: We have many art babies.
–Timeanddesire, as told to Studio Beat
Check out Timeanddesire’s website here.