Over the last decade, Elinor Whidden has travelled across Canada and the United States staging situations that challenge the prevailing myth of the North American frontier. Combining performance, photography, and sculptural installations, the artist situates herself as an ersatz explorer, supplanting the historical role of the frontiersman. Developed between 2007–2014, this collection of staged photographs and proxy artifacts explores how deeply the “discovery” of North America is tied to artifacts of colonialism, and how this can subsequently be linked to the subjugation of the landscape and the proliferation of the automobile—a beacon of progress that the artist poignantly deconstructs as an emblem of cultural and environmental degradation.
Photography: Scott Lee
Elinor Whidden received her MFA from SUNY Buffalo, a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and a BA in Canadian/Environmental Studies from Trent University. She has exhibited throughout North America, and her work has been included in several biennials, including the 2010 Beyond/In Western New York biennial. In 2007, she attended the Walking and Art residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She is the recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and is the recipient of an Arts Engagement grant from the Toronto Arts Council. She is also part of the arts collective Department Of Public Memory. Elinor Whidden lives and works in Toronto.