Safe Travels is the exploration of a project conceived for the group exhibition The Bald Eagle's Claw curated by Philip Ocampo for Xpace Cultural Centre.
"The Bald Eagle’s Claw calls attention to ideas of false-superiority in the United States of America by way of artworks that present as indulgent, disillusioned representations of American patriotism. By repurposing iconography associated with “Americana” culture, the artists involved in this exhibition use painting, sculpture, text and performance to question the U.S.A as a dominating force while demonstrating a concern for how its ideals have flooded beyond its borders and into global consciousness.
Tying together disparate yet familiar imagery of travel that, together, are more able to cope with the bleakness of reality mediated through American influence. His [Harding's] works include a packaged image, lock and key set on top of an acrylic engraving of similar imagery (save for a spine fragment) that rests on top of a wooden platform. The inclusion of cedar in this work is both culturally and personally significant to Harding’s Métis background. With its medicinal qualities, he seeks to imbue the other objects of his work with its healing properties; steeping a Car Freshener in it as well as dispersing it throughout the assemblage.
On the pillar behind it hangs kitsch memorabilia (including an Indigenous headdress shirt, a popular object in Americana culture that has been somewhat reclaimed by Indigenous people but also plays into stereotypes of Indigeneity at the same time) vacuum sealed with a folded image the highway sunset.
Finally, a piece of acrylic laser-cut into the shape of a car hood suspends another image of a sunset as a gold chain dangles from it. Andrew Harding incorporates found objects, images and fabricated items in makeshift sculptures that acknowledge assemblage as an act of making that is futile yet hopeful. Safe Travels packs your bags affectionately for the uncertainty that lies in the journey ahead."
The text above are excerpts from the exhibition essay written by Philip Ocampo.
The full exhibition catalogue and essay can be found here
All documentation is courtesy of Philip Ocampo and Polina Teif