15 November 2009
Much of the recent public discussion concerning issues of Canadian identity have focused on heated debates around values leading to a re-entrenchment of traditional concepts of Canada and the drive to define what is or is not distinctly Canadian. Within these debates, we often witness unnecessary divisions, polarization, marginalization, worrisome signs of nationalist sentiment and an emphasis on newcomers conforming to history as opposed to contributing to the ongoing creation of a country. National myths and symbols can become barriers to inclusion and meaningful adaptation. How many people continue to be marginalized by a simplified version of the two founding peoples narrative? Does the fact that the majority of Canadians still believe that the country is comprised of vast areas of untouched wilderness, lead many to feel that we do not need to do more to address climate change? Did the intense program of Canadian boosterism imbedded in the recent Winter Olympics truly draw the country together as claimed? DodoLab believes that at heart, Canadian identity is more complex than it has commonly been officially represented and articulated. Canadian identity is always in flux, it is a dynamic concept that can only suffer from a drive for fixity.
Ideas of Canada is an evolving and ongoing project that looks at probing for a more varied and nuanced national identity (and to potentially question its significance). Through collaborations and interventions, the goal is to explore, through visual, interactive and performative means, the complexities of contemporary Canadian identity and its representation and to acknowledge that national identity is always severely limited by the drive towards a final static vision. We ran the first test project in December of 2009 at the Guelph Lecture: On Being Canadian that took place in Guelph and featured several graphic surveys. We are currently designing a new survey project to compliment the Art Gallery of Alberta summer exhibition of Canadian landscape painting and we have just received a Harbourfront Centre FreshGround commission to develop a major program of work including surveys installations and youth design/build workshops during the summer and fall of 2011.
This blog post is a part of the project: Conferences/Community Labs