The New Canadian Naturalist
Michael Farnan’s The New Canadian Naturalist project serves as an investigation into the construction of the wilderness/nature narrative in Canada through an exploration of romantic ideas of the sublime and iconic images of ‘authentic’ identity such as the cowboy, forestry labourer, the beaver, historic photos, educational tools, and toys and media/advertising stereotypes. Moreover, by taking a closer look at nationalized ‘rites of passage’ such as camping, tree planting, learning to canoe and even high school bush parties and the ‘tribalism’ found at large outdoor music and culture festivals, this exhibition and thesis paper serve as an interrogation into the often deployed trope of ‘becoming animal’ in Canadian cultural representation as an attempt to challenge some of the enduring colonial legacies of our settler past. The NCN focuses on the narratives and ideologies championed by Canadian institutions such as our National Parks and museums representing dominant and ‘official’ histories. By engaging with the performance or staging of the particular moments and ideologies that take place within these culturally recognized spaces, the NCN becomes the embodied site for enactments of - and resistances to - these Canadian articulations of nature, gender, race, and nation. The history of representation The New Canadian Naturalist references is the familiarized and dominant Canadian ideology that says people can rediscover their authentic selves in rural and wilderness spaces. This thesis paper supports an exhibition that includes large-scale painting and drawing, multi- channel video work, as well as a medium format photographic project. Two performance works, The Beaver on the River, and the 3rd Annual Power Animal Party, aka the P.A.P. Smear, also took place in conjunction with the exhibition.
nature, wilderness, nationalism, canada, colonialism, postcolonial, appropriation, art, becoming animal, logging, tree planting, camping, national parks, museums, bison
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
Art and Art History