Calgary Super Bingo at Artcity
Writing for the catalogue:
I’ve inherited my parents’ passion for road trips. Nearly every summer during my childhood we’d pack up the minivan for several weeks of rambling through the American west. I loved it, but as an only child the long drives called for concentrated entertainment. One of my favourites was The World’s Greatest Travel Game, a beautiful, elaborate bingo-style game played with trays of plastic cubes covered with tiny illustrations of outdoor sights. It occupied me for hours while I scanned the windows for cows, road signs and A-frame huts.
Road trip games have been around for decades, but gained widespread popularity in the 1980’s. Traditionally, the games are designed to be played by children during long car rides. Their purpose is primarily to occupy kids during sitting-still time, while teaching basic civic vocabulary. Most contain a variety of more-or-less common outdoor items: vehicles, buildings, traffic signs, animals and other objects. A search of the internet reveals dozens of versions, from my childhood favourite to printable bingo-style cards designed by Sunday school teachers. Cards are frequently themed; enterprising tourism boards in the state of Michigan and several Florida cities have developed their own sponsored versions for distribution at rest stops and in tourism packages.
Using the visual conventions of “travel bingo”-style games, I designed a set of bingo cards specific to Calgary. During Artcity, the public will be invited to pick up cards to play as a group or individually on their travels around the city. By encouraging critical thinking about contemporary urban places and objects, Calgary Super Bingo has the potential to create awareness of patterns of urban development, access to resources and amenities, and the ways that we move through the city. Through Calgary Super Bingo, I encourage participants to explore aspects and areas of Calgary they may not be familiar or comfortable with (a sort of intra-city tourism). Paradoxically, while increasing mobility, urban reliance on cars discourages engagement with our surroundings. City residents who do not travel by car, on the other hand, have an understanding of the city informed by their chosen walking, cycling, and bus routes, which help form other experiences of the city that, while potentially more engaged with their immediate surroundings, allow them to be less familiar with the rest of the city outside their comfort area.
Game cards incorporate elements from core, mid and outlying/suburban areas. Some bingo items are common, and others rare or hidden. Missing and outdated items—such as hospitals or public payphones—are of particular interest. Players need to think creatively about their surroundings: Where am I? What is here and not here? Why is that?
Game cards with suggestions for play are available at Truck, Stride, the New Gallery, and Artcity events around the city.
And here’s the 3rd person bio I rejigged for the website, so it doesn’t get lost:
Megan grew up in a small town in rural Minnesota and moved to Canada in 1997 to study at the University of Saskatchewan. Her university experiences were largely with “activist” art outside the organized contemporary art community: artcars, and costumes for drag queens and radical cheerleaders. In 2003 she received two degrees, in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies, focusing on critical theory and community development. Since then she has worked as a freelance designer, writer and thing-doer, as well as a “professional volunteer” with organizations like the Saskatoon Pride Festival. She is currently the Volunteer Coordinator at AIDS Saskatoon and thinks she has the best day job in the world.
Much of Megan’s art practice wrestles with questions of belonging and “recognition by one’s peers”: How does a person become an artist, and how do we best perform our roles as art community members? She is particularly interested in cultural communities and the ways that identity and group membership are established through storytelling and gossip. Cause trouble with her art gossip generator: http://www.populust.ca/canada.htm (special Artcity release 2.1.1!)
Interested in practically everything, Megan’s art reflects (and focuses and magnifies) a nerdy, awkward enthusiasm. Her volunteer work and background in critical studies inform a fascination with labour/object production as they relate to conceptual art. In the ongoing performance project LadyLady Helping Services Megan offers her good intentions and “help” to artists (whether they ask for it or not). Other art interests include typography, pixelization, queerness, and mass culture fandom. She is obsessed with plastic canvas needlepoint, and is especially fond of art she can make while watching late-night reruns of Star Trek: Voyager.
Megan has performed with AKA Gallery (Saskatoon) and SAVAC (Toronto). She received a grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board in 2007, and in May was awarded the Saskatchewan Foundation for the Arts’ Jane Turnbull Evans Endowment Fund for emerging women artists. Watch for Floriography (with Cindy Baker), part of local curator Anthea Black’s looking for love in all the wrong places poster project. Megan’s needlepoint series Friends of Friends will be shown at Neutral Ground (Regina) in the spring of 2009. Find Megan online at http://www.populust.ca/ladylady