Brushing up against the wild

Join Leisure Projects for our Imaginary Places Residency event at the Banff Springs Hotel. Tea will be served promptly at 11am. Please RSVP – places are limited.

With special thanks to instructor Marisa Dario and ballet dancers from Terpsichore Dance Inc., Canmore Alberta

Baudelaire wrote, “You know that nostalgia for countries we have never known, that anguish of curiosity? There is a country… where everything is beautiful, rich, honest and calm… where life ….is sweet to breath; where disorder, tumult and the unexpected are shut out.” Banff Springs Park has held just such a place in popular imagination. Teetering between the overwhelming awe of sublime natural landscape and the fantasy-come-reality of the palatial Banff Springs Hotel, it plays on public fantasy and desire – a dangling and attainable fairytale.

Within a constructed notion of Landscape there has frequently been a blur between fantasy and reality, fantasy and leisure. Together these elements form an enjoyable, controlled and imagined space where people can invest time and energy in themselves and for themselves – whether shared or alone – without the responsibilities and distraction of urban day-to-day reality.

While in Banff Leisure Projects has explored popular past imaginaries of Banff society and wilderness by researching the social history, glamour and fantasy of Banff National Park in the late 19th and early 20th century. Collecting and re-enacting imagery of women in the Banff landscape, Leisure Projects has sought to evoke the idealism, heroism, and unconventionality of a unique and particular era of Banff’s history.

By re-activiating and experiencing activities performed in the landscape, Leisure Projects has created a a very personal form of time travel, brushing up against a Romantic history that no longer exisits in the Rockies. Casual re-enactments as a form of play and research, based in the intangible space of our imaginationsand drawing on our invented ideas of the past, the landscape and our own priveleged ability to have the time, space and desire to create and perform these fantasies. The collection of archival images compiled in this small publication represents some of what inspired Leisure Projects. We hope it will also provide the viewer/reader with a springboard for contemplation, reflection and their own imaginary practice.

The Brushing up against the wild folio was produced at the Velvet Antler Studio as part of the Imaginary Places Residency at the Banff Centre. Leisure Projects would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Elisabeth Kundert-Cameron and Lena Goon at the Whyte Museum, Janet Amy at the Banff Centre Department of Music and Sound, and Jane Parkinson at the Paul Fleck Archives of the Banff Centre. We would also like to thank Shima Iuchi, Sarah Fuller, David Hoffos, Simon Clark, Shaunna Dunn, Mark Lanctôt, Douglas Moffat, Charles Stankievech,Wendy Tokaryk and Matt Walker for their support and assistance.