Photographic transfer-type on generic cardstock. Set of 200 monoprints.
Knock Knock! or I will never own a home, is an admission of current affairs, that those enduring 21st century North America will simply never own a home unless something drastic sets the sails of capitalism ablaze. And those who do own their abodes must juggle numerous budgets in order to maintain their means of shelter atop endless taxation that prospers little payback, predatory investment buyers raising property values, and the rising cost of seemingly everything that comes under the umbrella of inflation, shrink-flation, and capital not equating the ends. One could blame 2020's emergence of COVID for all this strife just as much as one could talk on end regarding the inevitable outcome Canada's deplorable real-estate market, the rising degree of un-housed peoples from nearly every sector and age group, or how the smallest blip within globalized power structures can lead to inconceivably adverse outcomes for the smallest town. This is all to say the idea of ever owning a home in this economic climate is utterly unimaginable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cherish what remains.
Impressionable brownstone facades like those Victorian and Gothic Revival abodes have always sparked a nostalgic twinge just as much as a quaint cottage’s foyer, big red barn gates, or the splendid Jelly Beans of Newfound Land; from the framing of classical columns, arches, and entablatures creating an idea of order, proportion, and elegance, to the verbose indenting utilizing multiple columns to form depth and perspective. Amidst all these components sits staircases forming both physical and symbolic elevation, drama, movement and ritual all supplanted by climate, moss, lichen, and mould clinging to everything stone and timber courtesy of lingering Atlantic fog. Modern adaptations have seen some of these structures painting vibrant colorations, bright yellow doors and fiery oranges nestled within midnight black porticos, but this favourability does make once question the this initial nostalgia. After all, these are structure of British and French colonialism, landmarks to an inarguably bloodied history whose ramifications and imperialistic reaches stand untetherable.
The homes, the doors and windows we construct today are deduced impressions, not as a means to escape colonial ties, but merely the output of enterprise, of need of shelter, of efficiency, suburbanization and sprawl. Long gone are the stoneworked columns and detailed dentil blocks, neighbourhoods are built for car centric movement and downtown growth is often reserved for the undeniably featureless 5-over-1 or over-1s, also known as podium buildings. These structures allow for higher density of both residential and retail purposes while acting unabashedly complacent in gentrification. A circular affair making the few remaining brownstones, townhouses, and heritage structures beyond the conception of affordability and needlessly raising the outer burbs to equally unaffordable levels thus spurring further construction of spaces that can only ever be rented, the doors of which you do not own.
Admittedly, it is a foolish dream that everyone could own a spot of land, a yard, a pool, a hobby farm, a big verbose door, whatever it is. There is something revitalizing about living close to your neighbour, a binding of peoples in a greater social netting rather than living miles apart somewhere in the woods. Besides, there’s only so much space and the means of acquiring said space stems from a past that white centric structures have only bothered to acknowledge until pressured to do so, but that doesn’t mean we must inhabit this increasingly unaffordable and confined concept of North America. Structures both economic and stately must shift if we are to ever own anything, let alone a home, and as much as Knock Knock is an appreciation of what currently stands within so called Atlantic Canada is also a heed to what may soon be lost.
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