Smoking Gun

…..Created for the project room at MOCCA for CONTACT in May 2007, the cycloramic installation Smoking Gun ventures into the world of child’s play and their propensity towards the reenactment of ‘Cowboys & Indians’ from movies and old television programs. This investigation started me thinking about how the relationship between men and women, cowboy and Indian are fused in our minds as very specific roles but are undone and made somewhat elastic in the guise of a child’s interpretation

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Smoking Gun, 2010
1:58
Video and sound by Karen Ostrom

[This 2 minute video is a representation of the installation created for MOCCA. By laying out all four walls in sequence, the video takes you on a visual tour of the 140 foot long photograph complete with sound. ]

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…..The girl (playing the Cowboy) rides a horse deep in the heart of a stampede, shooting a gun, (which is only her finger). Across the room is the boy (playing the Indian), leading his horse on foot, crouching and gesturing to his horse to be quiet – the same gesture that in the hands of the girl is a gun. More significant to this sense of imaginary play however, is this real place setting in a forest with a waterfall, a lake, a ravine and bridge, and that the stampede that thunders through the forest numbering in the thousands, is a stampede of sawhorses. I call the piece Smoking Gun.

…..The wooden sawhorses in the urban context although presented here as a child induced drama, has been elevated to a much more complex dialogue between the growing urban center and the depleting wild natural forest. Wooden sawhorses themselves are archaic and are now mostly made of aluminum or steel. They function here as part of that lost industrial world but also still vulnerable like the forest they were once apart of. This positioning of them “in between” as in industry and forest is mimicked in their positioning between real and fantasy. Past, present, future, or fantasy, collide. Seamlessly they transform between ghosts of the past to portents of the future.

…..My interest in the possibilities of how the tableau can be constructed, the many layers of interpretation and meaning, and what happens to that narrative in a form like the cyclorama, has been at the core of this exploration and continues to be the fuel for my current work.

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Installation details at MOCCA in Toronto for the CONTACT Photography Festival in 2007

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North and East wall views

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East and South wall views

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