title: harper’s canada

year: 2011

location: calgary, alberta

duration: 6 weeks

supported by: the john snow house, the new gallery, and the conseil des arts et des lettres du québec

with special thanks to shara rosko, artist and director of the john snow house, tim westbury, artist and director of the new gallery, tomas jonsson, artist and director of mountain standard time performative art festival, jenna swift, artist and poet, and chris mandseth, artist.

harper’s canada was a six week residence at the john snow house. over the course of the residence transient traces postcards were written and mailed to members of calgary’s political community, with an emphasis on calgary’s major, naheed nenshi, who had recently launched a ten year community based strategy to reduce poverty and canada’s prime minister, stephen harper, who had recently  attempted to have the “Government of Canada” in federal communications replaced by the words “Harper Government.”

the postcards were also scanned and uploaded onto the site transient traces, posted on facebook and tweeted via twitter. in addition to this virtual dissemination, a selection of the postcards were photocopied and inserted into calgary’s “public” spaces. these “posters” were inserted into newspaper vending boxes, stapled onto plywood structures and taped onto dumpsters.


in addition to the dissemination work i was also engaged in recording voices. nine people were hired to read from the archived collection of the transient traces project. a total of 2300 texts were read and recorded, with a mixture of voices from those who do or have self-identified as homeless and those who self-identify as housed. the nine hours of recording will be used to develop an audio work entitled: harper’s canada.

a spoken word piece, supported by the john snow house and mountain standard time performative art festival (m:st) entitled: home less was performed in the living room of the john snow house. a joint book launch of m:st 5 and dream listener concluded the evening and the residence.

photos: ron checora

date :  september 8, 2011
title : home less – spoken word performance

duration : 7 minutes
location : the john snow house, calgary alberta, canada
supported by : mountain standard time performative art festival (m:st) and the new gallery
streamed on total art journal http://totalartjournal.com

home less

a spoken word reciting (based on words with the « h » sound : home, hold, hush, heart, harbour, hollow, hurry, haven… – based on the words but free spun, free sung, each time different) sounded out as the words rise in the throat. whispered sounds, repeated sounds, long drawn out sounds, sharp quick breath intake sounds. a mulling on the word home. what it means and does not mean. how the word warps and twists depending on whose mouth it is thrown from. and to whose ear it is thrown to. home. at once an emotional hook, a place, a non place. a place to escape from, a place to escape to. depends on who you are. if you are first nation, more likely to be home less, in prison than any other ethnic group in this land we now call canada. if you are a woman, more likely to be killed « at home, » more likely to be raped « at home .» homemaker… homebreaker.

excerpts from performance:


hold me
i will hold/you
i will hold you
i will hold you here. i will hold you here. here in the hollow of my heart.


hat on head, heart on…home a place to hang your hat,
home, where the heart is.


ya gotta love
ya gotta love the english language
with one word
sucker punched
home less
first the word conjures the image of home
then snatches it away in the same breath. thief. ya gotta love
ya just gotta love the english language
with one word
sucker punched
defined by what you do NOT have




go home
this is (not) your home
this is MY home
home land land
occupy my land then call me homeless/i steal your land then call you homeless

where am i to go?

a hospital is not a home
a shelter is not a home
a prison is not a home



3 Responses to “harper’s canada”

  1. This was amazing. And love your blog.

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