Installation dimensions flexible: 12f x 14f t o 15f x 17f
As an immigrant, I am familiar with stories of poverty in Canada and have witnessed many families’ losses and damaged dreams in relating to financial hikes in this material world. Calgary is such a wealthy city in Canada that from afar people only see a rich population with expensive cars and monster houses. It is not realized that there are families in low-income brackets. According to the Alberta Poverty Coalition report “ Alberta Poverty Facts” (2004), $13,100 was the average income of the poorest fifth of Albertans. Nor do people from afar realize that children go hungry in Calgary. As reported by the non-profit society Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, there are almost 30,000 children and youth in Calgary who go hungry while in school daily and in some cases children are not receiving breakfast either. This disparity informs one element of the installation.
In the Demulsify, suspended from the ceiling, are a pair of white Smithbilt cowboy hats. Since 1946, Smithbilt hats have been icons of Calgary’s municipal identity and traditionally given to important visitors. One is stuffed with 131 folded brown paper lunch bags (used to bring lunches from home to school by Calgary’s school children), the second, business ties. The brown bags generate a dense mass on one side, outnumbering the ties.
Underneath five printed flat forms loosely come together to characterize a hand; each part of the hand is an organic shape, and together the five fingers suggest the nature of land formation, lakes or edges of seas such geographical formations indicate the location of natural resources. They are the focus of investment by oil and other natural resource development corporations. According to It ‘s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources (2004) by American investigative journalist James Ridgway (born 1936)there are altogether 300 islands in the world. For many years now islands have been on the market as extravaganza millionaire real estate, offering the super wealthy land and water.
Other components in this installation center around universal dreams of tomorrow and an optimistic future for youth. Shifting trends in high power global business have an impact on man and nature, and especially on the minds and career choices of youth. As a teacher, I personally work with young students everyday and closely relate to thirteen nephews and nieces in my own family. Their interests and consciousness of the world, their relationships to monetary affairs, are significant in understanding the relationship between the individual and the society.
Lotto ticket numbers, LEGO toy building bricks, and mobile objects that are easily found in playrooms appear on the surface of the organic shapes. They are elements that function in children’s games and business as carried out by adults. Children’s’ Monopoly games, capitalist market games, such as those of the superior internet and cable providers SHAW and TELUS (in Alberta, Canada), and common stretchy elastic bands played with by children in the Third World are also part of this work. These juxtapositions invite spectators to compare current conditions for children maturing in Canada with those in other regions around the world and bring attention to neo-liberalism today.
Kim Huynh, summer 2013