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(Jan Swidzinski)

Stampede Trading Cards

Proposal Call

The iconography of the Calgary Stampede

Artists were invited to express interest in participating in a team which would investigate various aspects of the Calgary Stampede, its icons and its clichés. Artists were asked to consider, for example:

Click here to view
the Trading Cards

Mr. (& Mrs.) Dress-up: The western outfit-The commodification of style; "If this were China, we'd all be wearing Mao jackets" (Thank God it's only for ten days).

The cowboy image: The permissiveness inherent in an assumed persona - Behave like a drunken, irresponsible pig, as long as you wear the right clothes. The contradiction of exclusive individuality and inclusive obligation.

If the hat fits...: The white Stetson as Cowtown's catch-all symbol. What is it about this thing that even the Queen's consort could not deign to refuse?

And the winner is...: The Stampede Queen... Are there any other opportunities for women?

Promoting the myth: The sentimental pastiche of a redundant way of life vs. the realities of modern day farming - Home on the range, (as in micro-wave), and don't forget the cellular phone and satellite dish.

Dressing up the town: The reduction of once meaningful signs to superficial gloss. Howdy, pardner! A couple o' bales o' hay and some rough-cut fencin' an' you'll never know this is a bank.

The changing times: a historical analysis of the Stampede poster. From agricultural fair to tourist attraction. The Calgary Stampede was originally intended to promote the export of agricultural products. Today its aim is to import tourists.

Volunteerism: What you see is not necessarily what you get-the road up the corporate hierarchy. "Where else could I rub shoulders informally with Calgary's business elite?"

Who lives here anyway?: How NOT to be a good neighbour. The Stampede Board's hunger for expansion has led to numbered companies, block-busting, and the decimation of Victoria Park community.

Wagons, ho!: The Stampede parade... let's take inventory.

Diesel and dust: Oil and Agriculture; the myth and the reality. Unlimited natural resources vs. boom & bust economics. The family farm vs. corporate monoculture, soil erosion and importation of basic foodstuffs.

Sleeping with the enemy: The First Nations petting zoo. You can visit a "demonstration" native village complete with teepees, bannock and painted ponies (why do these people go along with this?). Calgary has a tourist attraction called "Heritage Park", which is like a zoo for historic buildings. Is this where the idea came from?

The real stuff: The rodeo; the chuckwagon races; the livestock shows; the rural crafts exhibition; square dancing - is there anything authentic left?

The kitch...: The Contemporary Western Art Show. Bronzed cowboys.

...and the kitchen: Bronzed baby booties, lint removers, slicer/dicers, Ginzu knives, not $29.95, not $19.95, but for this special Stampede promotion only, just $9.95, six complementary steak knives included...

The midway: You could take a cab to Medicine Hat for the price of one of these rides.

Vegas on the Bow: The biggest casino in Canada: Calgary's mall-sized saloon.

The respondents discussed many formats, including a satirical float for the Calgary Stampede parade. Eventually the consensus was to produce a boxed set of trading cards.