Tracey Bowen

Sight Unseen

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As a suburban resident, I am continually surrounded by a uniform aesthetic that is a composite of repeated forms, textures, surfaces and social codes that create a utopian screen in front of the frantic pace of daily life. Suburban spaces are linear, laid out side by side like television channels. We switch from scenario to scenario always under an assumed security of “neighbourhood-ness,” keeping social taboos behind closed doors. Passing observations create snapshots that are unconnected to one another, yet together create a whole that assumes the space of suburbia. As a frequent jogger through these spaces, I am able to observe daily rituals from a distance, never really involving myself with the space. I then return home again behind my own closed door.

In the creation of this work I became a voyeur on a space that I have recreated through memory time and time again. Upon return to this suburban place I felt I was spying on the history of the space as new occupants had taken over from where my memories left off. I had a sense that I was “Alice in Wonderland” as I had grown in size, grown larger than the space that my memory had recorded. Even “the woods” a daunting place of fantasy and fear had shrunk. The suburban-ness was older and softer, concealing its history in nostalgia.

The suburb might be seen as the gap in between a utopian space, an unreal place that the suburban code aspires it to be with its conformity and uniformity, and a fully heterotopian space, a space that Micheal Foucault suggests: is a real place with several spaces that are juxtaposed in one place, yet not necessarily compatible.

The artist would like to thank the Ontario Arts Council for their support.