“Lets Elope To Canada, Baby!”
NOTE: These images should not be confused with art. They are artifacts through which I – an immigrant – fulfilled my perceived role as a Canadian Landscape Painter for The McMichael Canadian Collection.
In July of 2013, I was selected for The McMichael Canadian Collection‘s inaugural Mentorship program. I was interested in the Gallery’s power to curate, and thus create National Identity, and wanted to enact this function within the context of my mentorship performance: an immigrant learning the Canadian pastime of landscape painting. National identity is both extremely diverse and individually specific, and I deliberated my role as a painter – and saw an opportunity to define a new Canadian Identity at The McMichael. I envisaged the task I had been set: to make a new, wholly encompassing narrative of Canada, for Canadians – and vowed that I would not fail as the Group of Seven had. My painting series “Let’s Elope to Canada Baby” is an installation of artifacts; evidence of an immigrant learning his place in Canada.
“When I painted in Algoma, I was interested in the dual identities of that landscape: both the real, remote location and the famous painting that I had seen in books and galleries. If I faced away from the train tracks and houses, the space seemed as primordial and untouched as I had always imagined. I squinted the telephone poles out of my composition, and paused with realization: The Queen, in stamp and currency, had traveled this great land far more than any other. I was forced to concede her dominion – for if she had not been there first, she had been there most.”
– Ben Barak, Canadian immigrant