Balete Bulate Bituka

An otherworldly creature germinates at The Bentway, its parasitic tentacles emerging from the history of waste materials used as landfill to create the solid ground where the Gardiner now sits. Woven together with bamboo, living plants, and hundreds of locally-sourced plastics, Leeroy New’s first North American commission (co-presented with Fort York) presents nature reasserting itself amidst our concrete infrastructure.

/baˈlete/ : (botany) any of several Philippine figs with aerial roots; believed to be a favourite abode of supernatural beings

/buˈlate/ : [noun] worm; earthworm. 

/biˈtuka/ : (anatomy) intestine; bowel; entrail.

Combining science-fiction and ancient Philippine mythologies with organic and human-made materials, Leeroy New’s first North American commission Balete Bulate Bituka explores the tangled relationship between nature and our waste. With its parasitic tentacles wrapping around the architecture of the Gardiner, New’s woven bamboo structure mimics the vampiric growth patterns of the Balete, a tree considered to be mystical and otherworldly in South East Asian culture. The installation, clad in hundreds of discarded plastics from Toronto and intertwined with living plants, presents nature reasserting itself amidst our concrete infrastructure. 

New’s installation seeks to spark a dialogue about the ways our waste is increasingly entangled with our urban environments and natural resources. After all, the Gardiner itself sits on human-made infill, composed of waste materials dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century. For New, waste is not just something discarded. Waste underscores the palpable impacts of the climate crisis at home and abroad. But, it can also be the material—the foundation—for imagining a more positive and sustainable future for communities and the planet. In his artistic works, New produces spatial and sculptural interventions that hope to model alternative modes of production, address the problematic nature of human-made products, while presenting new, speculative ecologies and fantastical landscapes for a sustainable future. 

Using the same materials as his installation, New will create a series of vibrant sculptural costumes, which he calls The Aliens of Manila. They will be worn by performers who will inhabit the installation, as well as the Bentway, bringing both to life through movement.

What to expect:

  • A large-scale, woven bamboo structure resembling the roots of a tree, covered in single use-plastics and living plants located at The Bentway Skate Trail.
  • Bottom of structure is wheelchair accessible.
  • All gender and accessible washrooms available during 1 – 8:30pm on weekdays, and 10am – 8:30pm on weekends. The washrooms will be closed on Mondays, with the exception of holidays.
  • Benches are nearby for those that require seating accommodations
  • All didactic text will be placed at ground level and will be accessible. 

Interview with the artist:


project team

  • Lab New Artist/Designer: Georjanno Abenoja
  • Lab New Head Fabricator: Ef-ef John Amparo
  • Lab New Project Coordinator: David Laboy 
  • Jann Leyba + Architects


Commissioned by The Bentway

Presenting Partner

  • Balsam Foundation


  • Government of Canada

Co-presenters & Other Partners

  • Fort York National Historic Site
  • City of Toronto

Special thanks to 

  • Green For Life
  • EllisDon Corp.
  • The Toronto Botanical Garden
  • Toronto & Region Conservation Authority – Partners in Project Green
  • Waterfront Neighborhood Center
  • TNG Childcare Center- Canoe Landing
  • Toronto Public Library- Fort York Branch
  • El Rancho Nightclub
  • Canoe Landing Community Center
  • Ballmatics Toronto and Sam Carter-Shamai
  • Ripley’s Aquarium
  • Multi Mold Plastics Inc.
  • Viking Recycling
  • Cedar Springs
  • David Constantino Salazar