#MYPROTEST: An art project about our dystopian time.
(Spring 2013 - October 22, 2014)
"A dystopian man of mystery." - Alan Neal, CBC radio.
#MYPROTEST was primarily an anonymous performance art project and social media experiment consisting of about 40-50 performances over 2 summers. It also included a manifesto, photography, video, posters and mixed media artwork. The project took place, and evolved over several months primarily in Centretown and the Byward market area of Ottawa. Performances mostly took place on weekdays during the busy morning rush hour.
I started the project by making unannounced, random appearances in the downtown core, in ‘high traffic - high pedestrian volume’ times, on a discreet electric bicycle, wearing a black suit, tie, and vintage gas mask. Below are photographs and tweets posted to social media by Ottawans who spotted me. The photos and tweets were then harvested via social media for ‘project documentation’ and were re-posted on a temporary website and Instagram account created for the project.
After several weeks of fueling curiosity, confusion, and fear in the community, I began an extensive poster campaign, flooding the streets with dystopian messages about the growing wealth gap, climate change, state surveillance, and genetically modified foods. My anonymous performances continued for several more weeks, and I was given the nickname ‘Ottawa’s Dystopian Cyclist’ by a twitter user who hoped I was a real vigilante crime fighter.
I had been stopped by RCMP police about 3 times over the 40-50 performances. I explained to them that I was an artist, and this was performace art, and after providing ID, they let me continue every time. The RCMP got to know me so well that nearing they end, I would wave to them as I biked past, and they would wave back.
7-Page (mostly redacted) RCMP investigation into my performance
The performance project ended on October 22, 2014 when Parliament Hill was attacked by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, and the security climate in Ottawa became too tense to continue.
*After an 'Access to Information' request was made to the RCMP in 2015, I was given a 7-page police investigation report, mostly redacted, that is now framed and included as part of the art project. It determined that I was "an eccentric artist...polite" and concluded that 'Performance Art' is not a crime and the investigation was closed.
I later produced and edited a video about the project set to music by Ottawa-based band, HiLotrons. Watch the video here on Youtube.
Official photographers: Jamie Kronick, Zara Ansar, Alexandre Brault
The #MYPROTEST Manifesto
Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have exposed our Orwellian reality.
Science has proven that climate change is caused by humans.
Oil companies blow up small french towns even though clean energy technologies exist.
We're consuming genetically modified foods, unlabeled, without knowing their long term impact.
Students are saddled with crippling debt and devolving job prospects.
The cost of living increases while salaries for the middle and lower class stagnate and vanish.
The wealthy are getting wealthier, and the rest of us, price gouged, and poorer.
Idle No More and Occupy Wall Street movements have had little impact thus far.
Capitalism is broken. █████████████████████
It is a race to the bottom, and resistance is seemingly futile.
Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little.████████████████████████████████
We once championed workers' rights, benefits, and healthcare for all.
We now lie apathetic, divided, distracted, and tired. █████████████████████
█████ for a world of reason, a world where science and morality guides progress, not war, religion, lobbyists, or wealth.
██████████ a world of equality, fairness, and opportunity for all classes, not just the privileged, the elite, or aristocracy.
More than computers and automation, we need humanity, and fairness.
More than patents and copyright laws, we need a charter of morals, online rights, and a respect for human dignity.
████████clean and renewable energy, shorter work weeks, paid sick leave, and more time for our families, friends, and ourselves.
If machines are to replace workers, then let the workers enjoy more of their lives, and██████████████████
For in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
So go to work████████████! Pay your taxes.█████████████████████
Eat your genetically modified food.█████████████████████
Be a good consumer. Practice civil obedience.█████████████████
███████████████ indifference, and greed!████████████████████
But if we choose to stay the course,███████████████████if faced with the status quo,
Until the end of my days: I protest. I protest. I protest.
This is #MyProtest. ██████████████████████████████████████████
Je proteste! ਮੈਨੂੰ ਵਿਰੋਧ! Я протестую!
我抗议！Ich protestiere! !أحتج
Nec Spe Nec Metu.