Alphabet City Festival 2008: FUEL

Alphabet City, Toronto’s fall festival of arts and ideas, today announced the lineup for this year’s topic: FUEL.


“FUEL puts forward inventive visions of our energy future alongside critical perspectives on the present,” said Alphabet City director John Knechtel. “We’re really pleased to be able to bring together such a remarkable set of ideas, setting the work of established luminaries such as Edward Burtynsky alongside that of newly minted designers like Maya Przybylski.”


FUEL – which runs from November 23-28, 2008 – presents a new generation of thinking from designers, artists and researchers about the challenge of radically reinventing our energy supplies in time to avert a variety of potential economic, geopolitical, and environmental disasters.


The FUEL festival includes four major elements: a FUEL anthology co-published with the MIT Press; the BURN BABY, BURN! cabaret at the Gladstone Hotel on November 23; RIG: DESIGNS FROM THE FUEL TRANSITION exhibition coproduced with the Toronto Free Gallery (opens November 27); and the FUEL TESTS symposium at the University of Toronto on November 28.


Early reviews for FUEL are already arriving, including this one from William Wiles at Iconeye, the online edition of the London, UK design magazine ICON: “Toronto’s Alphabet City Festival brings together practitioners from the arts and sciences and points them at issues of global concern. Previous years have examined topics including food and terrorism. It sometimes feels that some festivals offer little lasting value beyond a branded tote bag, and it’s good to see one event aspiring to be more of a think tank than a marketing shindig. The only problem is that it’s in Canada, and we’re not. Fortunately, the series of books produced to coincide with the festival is rapidly gaining an international reputation of its own, and the latest is excellent. The theme of this year’s festival is “fuel,” a topic of such pervasive relevance that it’s surprising it hasn’t come up before, and John Knechtel’s book is a first-rate primer on some of the energy problems we’ll be experiencing in the near future, and what can be done about them. FUEL is essentially a themed magazine between hard covers, similar, in fact, to Actar’s Verb series of “boogazines”, and it’s a superbly edited one at that.”


For more information, please visit, or contact Director John Knechtel at or at 416.854.7171. Alphabet City Festival 2008: FUEL is presented with the support of the MIT Press, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, Clarity, Toronto Free Gallery, Phoenix Charitable Works Foundation, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto, Gladstone Hotel, Talk20, Underline Studio, and the Drake Hotel.


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