Thursday, November 1, 2007

No Doubt AbOOt It!

While being the stereoptypically cleaner, friendlier, and in essence, more docile version of the behemoth down South, the existence of a collective "Canadian" identity has often been called into question by, frankly, everyone besides Canadians themselves. Yes, there are many striking similarities between the two nations: both have strong global economies, both house impressive educational institutions, both are pushers of democracy, both are guilty historical colonizers, both span 2 coastlines, both are huge purveyors of sex tourism...You get the point. But there is more to being Canadian. While it may be difficult to put our finger on a single tangible distinction that separates us from them, we KNOW we're not just a bunch of American knock-offs!

Take it from fellow Canuck, Douglas Coupland He's a visual artist and writer best-known for his novel, Generation X. As an ode to his Canadian roots, Coupland constructed a massive still-life exhibit in an old pre-fab home in Vancouver, calling it --surprise, surprise--"Canada House." He littered the shrine with the most abstract mementos of Canadiana consisting of stubby beer bottles, Robin Hood flour, cigarette packs (w/the Canadian disclaimer of course), French-side-out cereal boxes, etc. For those of us who missed his art show in Vancouver, Coupland followed-up his made-in-Canada project with two books, Souvenir of Canada (part 1 and 2), as well as a documentary of the same name.

The Souvenir of Canada series really struck a chord with me as I imagine it would for many of my copatriots. Each of the books are a collection of his still-lifes and other Canadian imagery, followed by pithy captions such as "Captaine Crounche," "ookpik" (that fuzzy little owl??), and "Baffin Island," while the film mimics it print counterpart pretty closely. For non-Canadian readers, Coupland's work would probably resemble a very bizarre and extremely confusing version of a coffee table book. In the film, there is even a scene devoted to non-Canuck reactions to the exhibit when Coupland presents the show in the UK. However, for fellow citizens of the Great North, Souvenir of Canada reminds us that there is something very unique, very profound, and very real about truly being Canadian, eh?

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