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Western University
Philosophy 1022E
Cathy Thorpe

Artist vulnerability and Canada’s position in the Venice Biennale September 19 , 2013 Regardless of the form of art, when an artist creates, they are exposing themselves to judgement and becoming vulnerable to failure and negative reactions. Every work of art (painting, song, short story, etc) contains a piece of the artist and a glimpse at his or her identity through self expression. Any artist can relate to the feeling of uncertainty that comes with displaying a meaningful piece that one has put their heart and soul into. This shared experience of vulnerability makes it easy for any artist to imagine what it would have been like to be in the position of representing Canada at the Venice Biennale and perhaps causes us to be less critical and less hard on the choices made by an artist in such a position. At the Venice Biennale, an artist not only faces the old familiar feeling of personal exposure, but also carries the responsibility of representing the identity and reputation of the entire country to the rest of the world. With Canada’s “good guy” reputation, this position comes with the added pressure of whether or not to conform to traditions and expectations of both Canadians and the rest of the world. Should one create a safe, modest work with predictable subject matter? Or should one attempt to shatter the stereotypes of what is Canadian or what is specific to the artist in question? The added pressures experienced at such an internationally renowned exhibit as the Venice Biennale and the added challenges presented by the elongated and irregular shape of the Canadian Pavilion are examples of how the environment in which a work is displayed can greatly affect how a work is received. Mark Lewis’s work is widely praised for the way in which he approached these challenges. Mark chose to stick to a traditional Canadian subject matter (an outdoor scene) with the modern and progressive twist of presenting it in an original method of video documentation. Lewis stuck with a medium he kne
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