Using Polaroid film in The Last Best West
It was those who could cope with large landscapes, those who knew what to do with wide spaces, who settled the Canadian West—the dreamers, the outcasts, the durable, the duped, and the downright determined. To leave all you knew behind, reduce your possessions to a wooden box, and take only what you could carry is either very brave or very stupid. A deep mustering of the soul and a desire for something greater was what carved the Canadian West, making it unique. I wished to explore this uniqueness of a now fading ruralness with my Polaroid stock. The Polaroids address a spirit of place, the collective histories of previous people, built landscapes and events interpreted visually through my scopic regime. Using the original Polaroid stock seems naively poetic, a dying medium to document a decadent condition. Both the film and the rural lifestyle thrived in a former time and as we move forward, our connection to both begins to dissipate.
The rural Canadian West has its own cultural mannerisms, different from its southern counterpart, which it is mistakenly conflated with from time to time. Prairie towns, so recently built, lack an extended and fantastical history. As a result, they build up their recent history, and if a stirring history is lacking, they conjure one up. The result: a perplexing homage to a real and dreamed-up past made visible through oversized, monumental items. The Eiffel Tower replica in Montmartre, Saskatchewan. The world’s largest pipe in St. Claude, Manitoba, and my personal favorite, Davidson, Saskatchewan’s coffee pot. This is a trend that occurs throughout the western provinces, allowing small communities to establish questionable pitches for tourism. Some monuments like the giant T-Rex in Drumheller are quite appropriate, while others lack good imagination. Only on the prairies could a water tank be a point of interest (Harris, Saskatchewan).