As the story goes
This exhibition considers the dubious relationship between memory and history in North American popular culture in the last one hundred years. Using aspects of the Old West, purchased nostalgia, superstition and a questionable personal memory, three projects of varied mediums follow the journey from experience to memento to reminiscence and the evolving romance that occurs with time.
The Most Photographed Barn in America (1900-1999) was an idea initially borrowed from Don Delillo’s 1985 novel, White Noise, which describes a place in the Midwest where scores of tourists photograph the same barn from the same vantage point in a tacit agreement to propagate its aura. Twenty-five years later, the Internet and royalty-free image sites have inadvertently determined that a particular barn in Grand Teton National Park is the most photographed one in America.
Robertson’s repeated image of the barn represent the ten decades of the 20th century, each image varying in colour, saturation and other subtle details derived from his collection of American postcards, catalogued by the decade of creation. The resulting series of images reverses the aging process as the decrepit barn remains static, as if held in one’s memory, while postcard versions of it evolve with trends in printing technology and consumer preferences.
Superstition Mountains (versions 1-5) is derived from the nearly 150 year old legend of a lost gold mine in Arizona. It is a riveting tale of murder, dusty maps and riches but like many mythologies the details of the story split into several variations. This series addresses the evolution of the story printing the quintessential view of the mountains once for each variation of the story, each hand tinted like early photographs and postcards.
Similarly born out of the romanticism of the Old West, Dying Mouse (In the Style of Remington) depicts a childhood event, in which a mouse was killed in Robertson’s country home by a toy suction cup dart with pins stuck through the rubber. Despite the endless retelling of the story, he is now doubtful it ever happened and was instead, the exaggerated tale from the untamed imagination of a young boy. For Robertson, this construction brought to mind the populist Western artist Frederic Remington, whose work helped propagate many of the legends of the Wild West – some truer than others. Like many history books, Remington’s paintings and sculptures depict a singular version of history, yet with time, begin to stand in for fact as less ostentatious versions fade with time.
Mitch Robertson is a conceptually based artist using photography, sculpture, the internet, installations and drawing to create work that considers the intertwined paths of religion and superstition with globalization and consumerism. He has shown across Canada and New Zealand as well as in the USA, Switzerland, N. Ireland, England, Germany, Scotland and Australia in public, artist run and commercial galleries. He is based in Toronto and is represented by Birch Libralato.
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