August 17 – September 28, 2013
Mountain View Museum and Archives
An Off-Site Project
Curator: David Smith
Artist: Arianna Richardson
Investigations into the construction and propagation of national, provincial and regional identity drive my practice. I am interested in theories of semiotics and hyperreality and how, through the souvenir and tourism industries, they are put to use to build national identity. Signs of Canada are of particular interest because of the unique and fast-paced construction of nationalism that came with the 1967 Centennial, occurring simultaneously with the permeating introduction of television and mass culture in 1960s North America. Because of the firm grip of hyperreality on the Canadian image, it’s orchestrated nature can be discovered writhing beneath a superficial, often humorous veneer.
The Hobbyist project is an ongoing document of investigations into this specific period in Canada’s history and many Hobbyist products appropriate the imagery of discarded items found in thrift stores and garage sales that are reminiscent of the period. In utilizing this particular aesthetic, I aim to question the relevance of the items and the ideas they represent in our increasingly digital and fast-paced society.
As craft and mass production represent another major avenue of interest, The Hobbyist has been working towards the creation of a mail-order catalogue offering DIY craft kits (eg- paint by numbers, embroidery kits, knitting patterns), a variety of Canadian souvenirs, (toques, personalized cigarette holders, flags, apparel, etc.), topical essays, varied sundries and photo-books. All of these items are handmade in a pseudo-mass produced manner and are intended to provoke the viewer out of passivity, engaging them in the active development of a new sort of consumer market aimed at promoting human interaction, creativity and critical thinking.
The series, Frontier, consists of 27 snapshots taken from across Alberta and Saskatchewan in the Summer of 2012. The particularly mythical ideals that are represented by these recreational vehicles: the rugged, wild frontier of the west and the freedom of the wilderness-braving Canadian, reveal themselves as signs made irrelevant by the passage of time. In various states of use and abandonment, these vehicles and their faded facades hearken back to a time not long past when the propagation of identity through consumerism was readily apparent. The series prompts inquiry into current projections of Canadian nationalism, heightening awareness and opening up a critical discourse when it comes to the meaning of contemporary Canadian-ness in a time of utmost ambiguity in the matter.
The following is an article from the U of L’s Southern Alberta Magazine that highlights The Canada Collection.