07 September 2009


"P.G. will speak through portrait"

Written by Christine Skorepa
Citizen staff
Wednesday, 02 September 2009

There is an art project being created one photograph at a time at the Farmers' Market over the next several weeks in order for a whole community to tell a story.

The idea is to take snap shots of the citizens of Prince George holding up a sign with their favourite word on it and gather the photos all together to make one statement of who we are.

Last week there were 80 people who participated and only one word was repeated. Can you guess what it was? That's right, it was “love” - but only used three times and written in three different languages.

Dr. Rob Budde, who works at the University of Northern British Columbia is a poet, creative scholar, and cultural worker, Hardy Friedrich, poet, journalist and photographer and Denielle Wiebe, poet and masters student at UNBC, are working together on this project called ‘Democratas’ - voice of the people.

Each portrait will have a face and a word, an expression, a handwritten declaration of identity and the changing Prince George light that will be placed side-by-side on a large wall like a collective poem stating who we are, explained Budde.

"I'm always a bit dissatisfied with the way Prince George is represented in the media, especially in the South," said Budde. "Stereotypes come through and I thought, how can I counter that with a portrait of Prince George that is more organic and from the people - that's how I came up with the name ‘Democratas’, thinking about democracy and the voice of the people. Instead of votes it's a word."

Budde thought collecting up to 1,000 portraits with just a word and a face and displaying them all on a big wall would give us a picture of Prince George not otherwise seen.

Budde does not know where the exhibit will be displayed because he does not know how big the display will be. Some suggestions include the Two Rivers Gallery, city hall, UNBC, the airport, or even as a mobile unit could be considered. He doesn't even know how many portraits will be enough. Someone suggested 600 as Prince George sits at 600 feet above sea level.

When Budde, Friedrich and Wiebe set up at the Farmers' Market last week, Budde found people's reaction to it surprising in a couple of ways, he said. "It was a bit easier than I thought it would be," Budde said. Physically setting up the photos went well.

"The second surprise was how tentative people were," said Budde. "People were reluctant to come up to the table." And people would say they would have to come back after choosing the perfect word.

"There were some very rich, powerful words and each word tells its own story," said Budde. There were two that stood out for him when a police officer wrote the word 'shepherd' and an older Aboriginal man who just lost his mother, wrote 'mother'.

Visit the Democratas table at the Farmers' Market on Saturday, Wilson Square at Third and George Street to become a part of this work of art.


At 7:25 AM, Blogger Dolores said...

Sorry I missed this.


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