Collaboration with Ryan Suter for the exhibition "The Natural and the Manufactured", Dawson City, YT. August 2013.
An interest in the folly of false perceptions relating to protection from seemingly disastrous events led to new collaborative work. Perhaps ironically, and as fate would have it, the couple lost their shared studio to a large fire that occurred this past winter in a historical building in Sackville. It was a combination of this unfortunate event and doing research about Dawson’s early days that the piece Burned was conceived. In reading about the city’s history, two bits of information struck the artists. Firstly, it has been noted that prospectors would keep continuous bonfires burning to thaw frozen ground in the winter months. These small fires allowed them to gain access to muck underneath that could be arduously hauled up and later sifted through for gold. And secondly; bucket brigades were relied upon for fire fighting, and early attempts to defeat destructive fires in Dawson were often thwarted by freezing temperatures. The inevitable futility of these particular endeavors both interested the artists and felt familiar to previous ideas explored in art works completed by them in the past.
This strange paradox of freezing and burning simultaneously also became a key factor in the inception of the work for the Natural & the Manufactured exhibition. The sculpture references barrels seen in the local landscape that are used to burn waste or wood that is sometimes used to provide a source of heat and warmth. However, instead of setting material ablaze, frozen firewood is loaded into the barrel. The makeshift firewood slowly melts into a bucket in the base of the sculpture and the water collected from the melting ice is regularly recast/frozen into more icy wood to fuel the failed fire. The work also alerts viewers when the “fire” needs to be restarted as a somewhat pathetic alarm of drips amplified through a speaker stops when the firewood runs out. This perpetual activity of attempting to start or extinguishing an ineffective fire becomes arduously cyclical and therefore the sculpture itself becomes reliant on efforts that are perhaps made in vain.