The Territory Orphans Mandala And Relic Wagon

Listen, you won't believe this but it happened again. That strange-looking guy that I sometimes meet on the subway platform at Bloor street & Bay, the one that smells like a second-hand yak and carries his stuff in a pack on his back - I met him again today. I know, I know - same guy as I told you about in the last grant proposal {Secret Doghouses Of Tibet - grants to visual artists, 1998}. You didn't give me any money but I built the thing anyway, at least a chunk of it, would've been a little more ornate but some of the other orphans here at the Territory Orphanage, they were working on our Mandala installation and got ahold of my best building stuff so that was that. Still, even so, you can see from the slide [#4] it was the only Secret Tibetan Doghouse in the city, in the entire province probably and if you ever see another anywhere else in Canada you let me know. So whatever, the point is you guys missed the old pontoon on that one so if I were you I'd pay more attention this time.

Anyway, this same guy that sold me the blueprints for the Secret Tibetan Doghouse has another set of plans, secret plans which are the best kind because no-one else knows about them except you and me. This new set of blueprints, they're for a relic wagon, you know, like the ones they had back in the middle ages, maybe it was around the last millennium, maybe they mostly show up around any millennium, but these relic wagons, they have stuff in them. Now in the middle ages they had religious stuff because that's how they were back then - left over things from Jesus and saints and some other guys that got involved, Mary in particular had lots of stuff on these medieval wagons because she was always losing her shawl and all.

Now nowadays that wouldn't fly - no-one's going to go out of their way to see some old stuff like that. This is Canada, right? We gotta have stuff that has to do with our national identity, our sovereign soul or at least an organ or two because even though we don't remember what it is we all are together, we know it must be something and it's not American (yet). This relic wagon I'm talking about here is a new millennium relic wagon and this guy that has the blueprints, he has a line on some very millennial Canadian relics and he's throwing them in as part of the deal. They're major, very major, things that real Canadians would really want to see if they knew what they were. I'll tell you one now so you know I'm not just fooling around here: Anne Of Green Gable's toe. The guy with the blueprints actually has it, he showed it to me and let me tell you it's something all right, at least what's left of it. He has other stuff too, all of it really major like I was saying, some hair of the dog, Mackenzie King's dog, actually he doesn't have that one right on his person but he knows a guy who knows a guy that clipped Willie and his little dog too so we can lay our hands on that one anytime we want. And those are just two of the relics he has, there's plenty more, dozens maybe, all of them major Canadian icons.

Now let me tell you something right now, the key to this whole thing is presentation, I mean we're not gonna go around with Annie's toe in a paper bag for a quarter a peek or anything cheap like that. We're talking class here. A relic is an awesome thing, even a Canadian one, but that's not enough. It's gotta be in a little glass case, gilded with gold and there's gotta be some jewels involved and a velvet cushion. So that's why I'm asking for some money here: the blueprints I bought with my own bit of cash, and the relics themselves are part of the deal. But a good display case can cost a lot if we want to go top of the drawer which I'm sure you'll agree we do. And the relic wagon, we've got plans for that, sure, but it's gonna take bucks and a whole lot of time to make it just right.

And me, I'm the best guy to build this relic wagon, you give me some money and I'll spend it for you, no problem. And plans for the wagon go way beyond just the relics you know. Me and another orphan here at the Territory Orphanage, we've been working on this installation together. It's called Garian's Mandala and I've enclosed some slides so you can see how it's going. It's a work in progress and we open it up every three months or so. We've got lots to do before it's all done, but one of the things we want to do soon is to take it around the city here so people can see it wherever they are. So what we're thinking is: why not pack the Mandala installation into the wagon with all the relics? We can move the wagon to alleys and parks, art galleries and other such places where people occasionally go. People will surely stop to see the source of their national identity, and when they do they'll see the Mandala installation too and the deeper source the Mandala maintains.

Now, possibly, some people might wonder if this would be visual art or not - it could be just theatre or merely some rot from an untutored mind. I mean the wagon moves, there's no getting around that, especially if you're right in front of it. But we're going to park it, in galleries even, so that's installation, right? If it's parked, it's art, that's what some people say and I'd say that as well to them. But if you're a person who's willing to say that visual art has a vector or two then I'd say to you that the Territory Orphan's Mandala and Relic Wagon could be installed in a moving way if you gave me a few bucks to do it.

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