Sunday, April 6, 2014
Do We Really All Play For Canada?
Recently I‘ve been watching the Olympics on TV. While I enjoy the spectacle, I find the special commercials, which are integral to the funding of the athletes and conduct of the games depressingly retrograde.
I’ve been studying representation as a part of my job for more than thirty years and when I say I’m depressed its because commercials as modes of exchange have evolved in my life time from simple minded plugs to sophisticated mirrors of our weakness and subjugation to the contingent morality of heteroidealism, compounded in this case with misguided patriotism supposedly expressed by consumer choice.
All these paradigms were supposed to have been squashed by the feminist revolution of the 1970’s. I was taught back then that as visual literacy increased and enlightened women push aside the patriarchy, a new consciousness would sweep away the old forms. While the feminist revolution has changed all of our relations in day-to-day life, the old exploitative forms of commercial exchange not only persist, but have evolved in their mechanics of exploitation.
Marx teaches that Capital neutralizes our impulse to free action with a kind of hypnotism which runs deeper that consciousness, he attributes this to the influence of religion, but I believe this hypnosis is a manifestation of self-interest and self preservation, particularly for child bearers. If its necessary to transcend the moral cloud for the purpose of raising children, then the moral cloud will always remain an illusion and our commercial representations will forever reflect this.
(illustration, after Leni Riefensthal)
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Aulac, New Brunswick, May 24, 1998 (2001), acquired, Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, 2014
I made Aulac, New Brunswick in 2001. It is the second picture in a series of three panoramic train images to date, produced in the Railway Lands group. It was preceded by the The Ocean Limited (East Bound) at Sackville, New Brunswick, August 13, 1998, made in 1999 and followed in 2002 by the Montreal Commuter (train) de banlieu.
I was interested in making the panoramic train pictures, because I had never seen a picture of a whole train before. The first picture came about when Penny and I were artists in residence at Struts Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick in the summer of 1998. I was making large pictures of microwave relay towers at the time, but as Sackville is on the CN main Line and train whistles blow there day and night, I got the idea to make a train picture. On August 13, I went to the Sackville train station, just down the street from Struts and photographed the Ocean Limited passenger train as it appeared that day. I wasn't sure how the picture would be resolved at that time.
Back in my studio in Ottawa, I figured out a method using plywood and different found materials including steel cans, linoleum, rolled aluminum and spray paint to make a panoramic picture of the Ocean Limited as it appeared on August 13.
About a year later I decided I would do a picture of a freight train as a partner for the passenger train. As I had no way to photograph a freight train in Sackville at the time, I researched in a Canadian rail fan magazine and found a picture of a crew change on an east bound CN freight (148) outside Moncton on May 24, 1998.
Using this picture which shows locomotives 5637 and 5740 as the start for my train, I documented all the other freight car names and road numbers on two trips between Halifax and Ottawa on the Ocean Limited passenger train in 2000.
The Freight train is both a composite and real document of CN freight 148, as it appeared on May 24, 1998. I situated or "posed" the train on the long marsh at Aulac, New Brunswick, just outside of Sackville, beside the well known Stirlings, Buy Apples sign depicted in the work.
The Owens Art Gallery purchased the Ocean Limited East Bound in 2003 and Aulac in 2014. The works have only been displayed together once in 2006 at the Confederation Arts Centre, Art Gallery in Charlottetown, PEI.