Just when I was getting ready to put the finishing touches on my the fourth and hopefully final post in my gallery admission fees series, we were hit with some extreme weather here in Saskatoon.1 As such, I didn’t have a chance to follow through with my plan. The good news that the weather has forced me to pay attention to my practice. What does one do when the giant drifts of snow start to melt unexpectedly? Turn it into a studio, of course.
Here is my latest piece. I made it in our front yard. It’s a series of humanlike figures created using my basic working methodology of taking a simplified form and repeating it until I have a pleasing cluster of visual elements. Surface decoration is optional. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve made ephemeral work. I call it Snow Day (2007).2
After months of digital work and writing, it was a nice change to actually make physical work that tired out muscles beyond my wrists, neck, and shoulders. I suggest you try it if you have an opportunity. If you want to see pictures of a more refined approach to this artmaking strategy, see these portfolio pages: Encounters, Crossroads and The Meeting Place. To view Snow Day in person, you’ll have to make a trip to 1109 15th Street East, Saskatoon. But hurry. Crystallized water is not an archivally sound medium. At current temperatures, I give it no more than a couple of days.
There are a number of variations you could try:
Damien Hirst variation: Put it in a vitrine. Give it an enigmatic title like “The physical impossibility of spring in the mind of a recently-repatriated child of the colonies.” Sell it to an advertising mogul for megabucks.
Sol LeWitt variation: Write out the instructions. Tell everyone that the instructions are the work, and that it is unnecessary to actually physically make the work.
Christo & Jeanne-Claude variation: Before making the figures, make endless conceptual drawings and prints until you can afford the project costs, while simultaneously cutting through red tape to ensure the project is not shut down by the authorities. Make the work, document it, and sell the documentation.
David Altmejd variation: Decorate with lycanthrope fur, sex toys, and shiny things.
Simon Starling variation: using Sol Lewitt’s instructions, ignore the part about not making the piece. Make the piece. Win Turner Prize.
- After months of extremely low temperatures—a bit of shock after having been in warmer climes the previous three winters—we’ve had a sudden warm spell. Everything is melting. Fast. Puddles and slush abound. As does fabulously sticky snow. ^
- Some days I really wish HTML had a <tongue-in-cheek> tag. I would’ve tagged the entire paragraph.^
Nice to see your unmistakable style in such solid form, I confess though, I did want to see your wife’s lovely and sadly missed face peeping out from behind one of the snow beings! I suppose though you’d have had to have copied and pasted her many times to remain true to the concept.
Andy: unfortunately, Lia’s only participation in the project was to take some pictures of me making the piece. She went back into the house before I finished. And now the snow folk are embracing entropy: 5 of the 11 figures fell over before the sun had set, and none of them have been enjoying the lengthening days of bright sunshine and above-freezing temperatures.
I have reported this atrocity to city officials. You are supposed to shovel the snow 2.5 metres from your home and create proper draining troughs so that the melt progresses into the nearest drain. Nowhere in the civic ordinance compendium does it say you are allowed to create hominid snow piles. These will melt irregularly and flood your house, your neighbor’s house, and perhaps cause a blowback of melting that will affect every household in Saskatoon. Expect the civic snow officers to appear at your door any second now.