Working on a new proposal for the OCAD U Graduate Gallery today entitled Bonfirecity. Part exhibition, part social gathering, this project seeks to rectify the intense urbanity of summer in downtown Toronto by transporting the decidedly non-urban act of having a bonfire to the heart of the city. On a series of ten television monitors, piled at the centre of the gallery, DVDs of the commercially produced “Virtual Flames” will be played. Visitors to the one night event will be encouraged to dress for a proper beach bonfire (plaid shirts are highly encouraged) and bring a blanket or cushion to sit on. Two guitars will be present if an impromptu sing-along happens to break out. If my application is successful I will send out a call for performances (storytelling, performance art and music) but of course spontaneous improvision at the bonfire will also be encouraged.
In terms of a critical line of thinking, I do see this project as being related to the history of relational aesthetics, however, it is more of a humourous critique than a serious continuation of Nicolas Bourriaud’s method. Bonfirecity does not attempt to bring in the “real” social event of the bonfire into the gallery space instead it is a mutation of it. Bonfirecity may also be regarded in relation to Jean Baudrillard idea of the simulation, as the event is absorbed in a sort of hyperreality, it is both real and referent. Unlike the a real bonfire however, Bonfirecity is potentially infinite and repeatable as the virtual logs never burn out although indeed the gallery will eventually close.
Link to “Virtual Flames” At 0:39 the beach fire sample begins!