I mentioned this on "The Gang of Four" yesterday, a piece of art by Guelph's Gabriel Parniak called Cup (24 Ounces of Misrepresentation). It was part of Ed Video Media Arts Centre's contribution to the Supermarket art exhibition at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Sweden. The piece caused a bit of a fervor on Reddit when it was posted by Ed Video's programming director Scott McGovern, which is exactly what you want from a piece of art. Is it a commentary on how a corporate brand has become so integrally tied to our national identity, or maybe the skill and precision of the beadwork mocks the middling cup of coffee that this cup usually holds? What do you think?
This was Parniak's description of Cup that accompanied the piece while it was on display in Stockholm:
Cup (24 Ounces of Misrepresentation) disrupts and questions the historical manifestation and legitimacy of dominant corporate Canadian brand identity, by presenting an extra large Tim Horton’s cup as a satirically beautified museum artifact. The cup, meticulously beaded (though, specifically and consciously with superglue), and enclosed under a museum display vitrine, mimics the original colonial act of relegating Aboriginal art objects as strictly anthropological or ethnographic . The surface treatment of Cup, serves as a symbol of the historical tendency to “gloss” over the truth of national historical narratives. Through this subversion of a current iconic Canadian object, Parniak aims to rupture historical myths and challenges our unquestioning acceptance of the definitions and representations of current Canadian identity.
Parniak elaborated in an e-mail interview with Canada.com. “Contrary to the response on Reddit and elsewhere, the piece has very little to do with Tim Hortons itself,” he said.
“It was interesting to read some assumptions that the beads were not glued on, as well as the assumption made that I am an aboriginal artist. It was amazing to see some real critique and dialogue come up on the Reddit threads, though funny to see how much of the debate was just about how whether or not Tim Horton’s coffee is/isn’t (to paraphrase Redditors) ‘shitty.’
“One interesting comment was from someone who said they felt that the subversion of the brand was too subtle … they suggested perhaps a crushed cup would have translated better. Interesting indeed. Or creating something more along the lines of Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Burger to heighten the humour.”
No matter what you think of the piece itself, it's great to see a Guelph artist and a piece of art made in Guelph get this kind of attention.