IDLE WORSHIP was a mobile art exhibition in back seats, box trucks, hatchbacks, and minivans, designed for the everyday context of parking lots across Calgary/Mohkinstsis in Treaty 7 Territory. 8 artist-driven cars became moving micro-galleries, welcoming visitors to experience a series of strange, immersive, whimsical, playful, absurd, and satirical artworks – each tucked inside its own vehicle. Traveling in a law-abiding motorcade, IDLE WORSHIP responded to Alberta’s car-centric culture in a slow rally from familiar place to place – traversing the Calgary landscape as so many commuters do daily, but with an utterly different intention. Pithy and playful, IDLE WORSHIP was equal parts community project, commentary, and intervention in plain sight.
IDLE WORSHIP was organized by Caitlind Brown & Wayne Garrett as a spinoff of The Hibernation Project, and funded by Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Read the Artists’ Bios here.
Photos of IDLE WORSHIP were captured by our project documentarian, Mike Tan – including all the images in this post (with the exception of a small few).
In late September, IDLE WORSHIP mobile art exhibition visited exotic locations in Calgary/Mohkinstsis, including parking lots, strip malls, drive-throughs and popular lookouts across all four quadrants of the city. Each stop brought IDLE WORSHIP to different audiences; some visitors actively sought out the show, others encountered it incidentally. As we traveled, we became increasingly aware of how much our cities are built around infrastructure for cars, how powerfully our culture teaches us to ignore these infrastructures, and all the possibilities for commentary and absurdity within these asphalt public places.
Participating artists created installations, sculptures, performances, and immersive spaces responding to this mobile context. Read about the work below! (We’ll share more about the process behind our own work in an upcoming post.)
ORDER & CHAOS by Laura Anzola & Matthew Waddell
Inspired by the painted white and yellow lines present within many parking environments, Order and Chaos reimagined the rigidity, temporary proprietorship, and implied order within these spaces. Climbing into the back of an unassuming rental truck, the audience entered a hypnotic landscape of geometry and illusion, where the straight and confining lines of the outside parking lot blurred into a chaotic world of morphing shapes and ever-shifting perspectives. Visitors were invited to park their mind in a dimension of non-boundaries and cross-eyed illusions and stay for a while.
OUT OF MY ELEMENT by Audrey Lane Cockett
Sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned. With the original intention to create a personalized spoken work experience and sound art installation for IDLE WORSHIP, the artist was forced to switch gears after their car broke down the day before the exhibition. With their car (and most of their installation) locked in a mechanics shop for the weekend, Audrey Lane hit the brakes on their first plan, and made a new performative piece called Out of My Element. Using a single car seat, a mosquito net, and some speakers, the artist and visitors took turns sitting beneath a veil, listening to sounds from the natural world, and taking a break from the day in a “zero emissions vehicle.”
HORB by Gary McMillan
Horb was the first creature most visitors saw at IDLE WORSHIP, often from across the parking lot. A hatchback-turned-beast, this monster car was constructed from a skin of painted garden fabric tailored to the artist’s vehicle. In Gary’s own words, “this is my way of commenting on the mechanical denizens of the parking lot as forming a varied population of distinct types to which multiple taxonomies could easily be applied. As they bask in the sun or move idly about, these shiny monsters could be categorized by their size, number of openings, color patterns, or most importantly, by how much status their respective operators possess.”
PARKED IN NEUTRAL by Keith Murray, performance collaboration by Jamie Tea
Situated in the mythical Neutral Zone halfway between a Freedom Convoy truck and a Pride Float, Keith Murray describes the impetus behind their work: “After millions of years living in trees in tight-knit communities, picking gnats out of each others fur, we have reduced our corporeal communications to 280 character transmissions. Inter-carnationality traded in, to dial in to the digital facsimile. Abandoning our archaic and analogue connections, connecting our socialities to the immediacy of social media. Via semiotics we relate in meme-space; our bodies, our senses we truncate. In place of conversation: platforms, protest placards and parades, soapboxes and comment sections, convoys, ‘content creators,’ and commentators, demonstration, occupations, retaliation, conflagration. Dialogue and discourse, sacred chants and symphonies reduced to slogans, symbols, memes, phrases and whistles, shouts and screams.
Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong, with whom do you belong? Are you with us or against us, Left of Right, Right of Left, Centrist? Are you for Freedom or Responsibility? Justice-seeking or apolitical? Standing your ground or silent?
Tired of it all? – Join us in the Neutral Zone: Where we say nothing, stand for nothing, identify with nothing, and are nothing. Here no one belongs or relates to any one or anything. There are no rights to defend, no injustice or justice. No one to believe or trust, no worries, no fuss, no others here, there’s just us.”
CLEAN YA TRACKS by Khalid Omokanye
An exercise in greenwashing, Clean Ya Tracks was a delicate copper sculpture designed for the back of the artist’s pickup truck and filled with tree seeds. The seeds slowly blew away as the truck drove – potentially spreading the trees that could erase the truck’s carbon footprint in a hopeful (though probably futile) gesture.
The copper sculpture was created in a style reminiscent of late sculptor Cameron Roberts, a friend of the artist.
TRYING TO BE A PLANT by Keith Rodger
Taking up residence in the back of his vehicle, Keith Rodger created a durational performance and voyeuristic invitation. He sat in a minivan filled with dirt, very still and silent, with his eyes closed, not responding to anything. A variety of flowering and leafy plants were planted in the dirt around him, and people outside the van were invited to participate by “watering me, the boy, or me, the plant, or them, the plants” and “I won’t get mad at all because I am a plant now.” One pump watered the plants around Keith, the other poured water directly onto his head. He did not respond to the water falling on him, even when kids grew excited to “water the boy.” Though some visitors refused to water Keith (not wanting to put another human being into a state of discomfort), the weekend was so hot that the artist later relayed how the water “cooled him down” and “felt nice.” Perhaps he succeeded in becoming a plant after all.
COME GATHER HERE by Maggie Schaefer
Using familiar methods used by car dealerships to gain attention, Come Gather Here welcomed the public to come and see IDLE WORSHIP. First noticed at a distance by way of a large helium balloon high up in the sky tethered by a line decorated with tassels and small flags, visitors made their way over to satisfy their curiosity. Upon arriving at the gathering of art cars, visitors interacted with each artist and learned more about the event and its sponsors from Maggie, the host at Come Gather Here. For those wanting to get in on the action, an interactive racetrack was installed on the side of the artist’s car, creating a racing game for the fast-and-curious.
SHRINE OF BLACK GOLD by Caitlind r.c. Brown & Wayne Garrett
Inside the trunk of an unassuming 2001 Mazda MPV, a shimmering golden shrine flowed with used motor oil, created for worshiping car culture, oil & gas, and the blessed byproducts of ‘Black Gold.’ In the artists’ words, “Praise be to Alberta’s richest resource! Kneel before the altarnator, reflect in the deep black well, and pray for blessings of wealth, great fortune, and a new age of economic prosperity bringing eternal happiness.”
Thanks to the artists for participating in IDLE WORSHIP. Special thanks to Clare & Nikki for plant knowledge, Rachel for lending her truck, Rod for renovation materials, Mom for always lending us her van (though thankfully not for this show), and to all the co-pilots and support systems keeping our collective tires on the road.
The streets, parking lots, and highways of Calgary are located on the traditional territories of the people of Treaty 7 in Southern Alberta, which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina First Nation, the Stoney Nakoda, and the MEtis Nation of Alberta, Region III. These infrastructures have had profound impacts on the landscape and displaced many Indigenous Communities in this region, past and present. As we drive Deerfoot, Crowchild, Tsuut’ina Trail, and other highways, we acknowledge how these roads came to be named for the histories they were often attempting to pave over. We share these roads with gratitude for the land beneath, and a desire for better routes ahead.
We’re grateful to acknowledge the support of the Province of Alberta through Alberta Foundation for the Arts.