The 88 Suite

Andrew Harwood

December 1 - December 22, 2001

UPDATE: This exhibition showed in Miami during Art Basel Miami 2005: Buena Vista Building / Art Loves Design
180 NE39th St, Design District, Miami FL
Thursday December 5, 10-5pm, reception 8-midnight
Friday December 2, 10-5pm
Saturday December 3, 10-5pm, Art Loves Design party 8-midnight

In my most recent works I have been examining how Canadians (and other nations) individually and collectively present themselves to the world through large scale international events like Expo '67, Montreal and more recently the Calgary Winter Olympics, 1988. I am fascinated by government's funding of large scale cultural/sporting events and the wonderful cheese that is produced to impart "nationhood". I cried at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Summer Olympics 2000, as this over-produced spectacle culminated in the beautiful/awful song "My Island Home." Despite my intellectual understanding of the terrible impact the Olympics would have had on the City of Toronto, I was saddened to hear the Beijing had won the games.

the 88 suite features staged photographs of medal winning figure skaters B. Orser and Liz Mannly as well as hockey sensation W. Gretsky. These photos play with gender, glamour and poses that sports figures make to exemplify their success or failures under constant scrutiny of the media. Each figure in these photographs is surrounded by "shakey" eyes made for toys or crafts. I have employed these as a device to recognize the sitter's or "poser's" position as someone who is (or was) constantly watched and plays with the viewer being watched in the most silly and didactic way. These three atheletes represented Canada's best at the 88 games. Both larger versions and original Polaroids are available in this series.

"cowgirl hat" is a straw party hat roughly in the cowboy style. This work is completely covered with shaky eyes, re-configuring the idea of souvenir and questioning what is truly Western? People who attend the opening may have their photo taken wearing this head apparel in a truly touristic fashion.Cast rubber is used extensively in this body of work. "apres ski" imparts a certain limpness after a 'workout'. The "orser machines" use rubber cast skates in pretty hues, motorized by rotation devices, displaying the beauty, grace and seemingly fragile nature of figure skating.

This timely exhibition pokes fun at, criticizes and celebrates the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. This project is inspired by Toronto's recently failed bid for the games and as well as Salt Lake City's preparation for "world" in February. I am goin' to Utah and I'm goin' for the gold!

- Andrew Harwood,

Special thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support of this project.