For the opening of his latest exhibit, Lawnguard, self-proclaimed “mock-artist” Rene Price will be dressed in a full green regalia. Possibly wearing a vest made of indoor/outdoor carpet he will be the epitome of the Hank Hill mentalitya man defined by his lawn.
Continuing his Suburbiart series, the new work approaches the suburban pastime of lawn management with a guerrilla-type mentality. Price frames a war being battled in suburbs across North America against unkempt lawns.
“It’s the whole artificiality thingwhat we’re trying to do and how unreal it is compared to letting the dandelion take over and do its thing. It’s a kind of camouflage,” says Price. “We’re always trying to subvert something else. We’re never letting it be, and that’s what suburbia is always about. I don’t want to say it’s a utopian environment, but it’s not real.”
For the installation, Price has created a camo-canon that he’s aimed at visitors, protecting his path of green indoor/outdoor carpet that leads the viewer into the show, covers a fake lawn tractor playing a slideshow of Price’s outdoor projects, and forms the image of soldier on the wall. The artificiality of the carpet is parallel to the artificiality of everything that must be done to maintain a lawn.
Price has also covered a window in green, transparent cutouts of gravestones. It’s a play on your final lawn. And he’s even included his own lawn in the form of a cut up puzzle visitors can reassemble.
Of course, Price lives in a suburb himself. His house looks no different from any other. But inside it’s bursting with his work. It fills two bedrooms, his basement and a garage packed to the rafters. Having lost himself in making these objects, he can’t be bothered to get rid of them. They are a direct opposition to our mass-produced, computer calculated society.
But it’s not the creation that really gives Price a thrillit’s getting an audience to respond or interact with the work. For Price the objects are really no more special than widgets or dollar store items.
“It’s easy to come up with ideas, and even to produce them. But to do anything with them…it’s part of the waste of our society. We’re rich enough to do stuff that we really don’t need, whether it’s art or useless product.”
Building on his large pyramid he donated to the city of Cornwall, Ont, Price dreams of creating MORPAthe Museum of Rene Price’s Art. It would be an eccentric tourist attraction, much like the traveling Canadian Art truck he one day would like to use to drive his work to Canadian Tire parking lots across Canada. Lost in his plans are any pretense of sculpture or high art.
“An artist shouldn’t have to worry about that. Who cares whether it’s art or not?”
No matter what Price is able to pull off, like Lawnguard, it will all be ripe with satire.
“Looking at society from a more realistic point of view is what I think satire is about basically…Things don’t change that much that quickly and I don’t want to repeat myself but that’s why I have many different series. Human nature doesn’t change anyway, and I personally don’t think we learn that much from our mistakes.”
Lawnguard will be on display from Thu June 4 - Sat June 27 at OFFTHEMAPGALLERY in Toronto.