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Ryan Flanagan Photo

Ryan Flanagan Photo

For 34 years, Aporia has sat outside the Frederick Street courthouse. Its fate after the consolidated courthouse opens down the street next year remains a mystery.

Intestinal fortitude

Future remains uncertain for Frederick Street courthouse — and the polarizing public art in front of it

By Ryan Flanagan
Kitchener Post staff

In front of the provincial courthouse on Frederick Street sits what might be Kitchener’s most well known piece of public art.

Some people know it as the intestine, some as the worm, some as the sausage.

But there’s an awful lot that’s not known about the 2,250-kilogram sculpture, starting with its real name — Aporia, a word meaning “a logical impasse or contradiction.”

Aporia was erected in 1978 by Ed Zelenak, who did similar work in Ottawa and at the University of Waterloo and now lives near St. Thomas. Aporia was Zelenak’s last commissioned work — in the 34 years since its creation, he has shifted his focus to smaller pieces which have been displayed in galleries as far afield as the Czech Republic.

That’s the past. But what about the future?

The area around Aporia could change significantly before long. The new consolidated courthouse is opening next year on the block of Weber, Scott, Duke and Frederick streets, replacing the functions of the Frederick Street courthouse, Weber Street’s Superior Court and a courthouse in Cambridge.

At a cost of $766 million over 30 years, the new courthouse will feature 420,000 square feet of courtroom and office space over seven floors.

Once the consolidated courthouse opens, the Ministry of the Attorney General is unlikely to have any use for the old buildings. While the Superior Court buliding belongs to the Region of Waterloo and will likely be repurposed by the region, perhaps used as offices, plans for the Frederick courthouse — owned by the province — are sketchier.

“It’s still operational and the consolidated courthouse is still under construction, so it’s going to take a little while yet before that’s finished,” said Caroline Knight, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Ontario.

“We haven’t made any decisions. We’ll examine the options for the future of the property.”

Having not yet decided what to do with the building, Knight said, future plans for Aporia are equally uncertain.

But people walking by Aporia on a recent afternoon had a few ideas of their own.

“Take it down, send it to the dump, get rid of it,” said Christine Brooks.

Brooks said she didn’t understand why the sculpture was commissioned in the first place, as in her opinion it doesn’t fit with the landscape of downtown Kitchener. Mark Kowalski agreed.

“You look around, we’ve got all these historic, nice-looking buildings, and this big intestine or whatever it is in the middle of it all. It’s so out of place. It looks like it should be somewhere else,” he said.

Not everyone was as pessimistic about the sculpture. Nicole Dube, who had a prime view of Aporia for years while she attended Suddaby Public School across the street, said she couldn’t picture the area without it.

“It’s been there for so long,” she said.

“I know some people don’t like it, but to me it’s a part of Kitchener, it’s part of our heritage.”

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