Tuesday, June 19, 2012


"Today marks the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. On June 18, 1812 U.S. President James Madison sets out on the invasion of Upper Canada, something he said was "A mere matter of marching"... Thanks to the sacrifice of Redcoated Soldiers, citizen militia and fierce First Nation warriors we can proudly wave the Red and White today! 

God Save the King!"

As a fitting way to celebrate the big day, Andrew and I as well as a co-worker and her husband went to see The Encampment, part of the Toronto Luminato show,  What I didn't know is quite what what that involved, besides a bunch of tents (200 actually) set up inside of a fort. 200 different artists (or groups of artists) were invited to take part in the display. Each was given a figure of varying prominence that was part of the war effort, or lived in the village of york, and was to artistically represent that person, within the confines of their 7'x7' white canvas wedge tent. 

We brought a picnic dinner to eat in the parking lot, and started wandering through at about 7:30. By 10:00 we had to leave after rushing through the last several rows, and missing one section altogether. It takes the time folks, if you're gonna go see it, give yourself the full time. At dusk, a solar light comes on inside of each tent, and the whole encampment glows. The ambiance was very cool.

Some of the displays were incredible, thought provoking, and informative. One booth walked you through the evidence submitted during the trial of a york woman of the time period who killed her child. At the end you were invited to cast your vote (the old way using stones cast into different bins) whether she should be granted mercy, or punishment. Another told the tale of a york postal worker, and gave the viewers an idea of the length of time required for a letter to arrive, since they were hand delivered. We were invited to write a post card, which the artist will then attempt to hand deliver in the traditional fashion. Some were a bit of a reach in terms of "creative interpretation". Perhaps if they had provided a little write up about the person and their artistic piece it would have made more sense. A few were downright bad, and 2 in particular were just vulgar. One was a pair of silhouettes of provocative naked women papered over in the "personals" classified section of a questionable paper (lots of flesh showing!) with bullets clipped on where their nipples would be. Another had not much in it but gay pride memorabilia and a chandelier with a condom unfurled over each candle. I don't understand what either display had to do with the war (certainly we didn't have condoms or pride parades or rim fire bullets!), and there were families with young children wandering though. Art can certainly be risque sometimes and that works, but in this case, I didn't think they were appropriate. 

All in all it was a really fun way to spend an evening, I learned something about a time period I consider myself fairly versed in, and commemorated the start of our war. The display is still on for several days, so if I have any readers in the Toronto area, I highly recommend it. 

No comments: