“The greater part of what my neighbours call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behaviour”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Living in a monotonous suburban community is an experience which begs to have its social limitations challenged. Activities which break the pattern of uniformity and shatter the austere tranquility of the cul-de-sac form a politic of exception, an accursed remainder within an otherwise perfect world. Re-enactments of World War One with water balloons and trenches, the construction of giant cardboard volcanoes in backyards and public robot fights dissolve the hegemony of the “new community” aesthetic into a provocative and ambiguous social milieu. It is with this “we’ll do what we want” attitude that the Arbour Lake Sghool was conceived and now thrives.
The Sghool’s mandate is to provide a stage for the creation and display of artistic or critical projects in a way which explores and engages our suburban setting. Activities under this mandate excite, entertain, and often serve as comic interlude in the not-so-secret game of suburban one-upmanship. A loose association of artists, athletes, musicians, trades-people and students form the core group of project participants. Membership in the group is not determined by any specific criteria other than a desire and willingness to collaborate in a diverse and open-minded atmosphere.
Since the Sghool’s inception as an entity (November 2003) the most active participating members (and those responsible for maintaining the group as a distinct concept) have been Andrew and John Frosst, Wayne Garrett, Ben Jacques, Justin Patterson, Scott Rogers and Stacey Watson. Outside of this group numerous other artists/producers have contributed to the Sghool’s critical and entertaining projects. These projects have taken place within recognized arts institutions such as galleries and universities, in public spaces such as parks and backyards as well as within the private atmosphere of the Sghool. One of the essential features of the Arbour Lake Sghool is a willingness to engage in creative (and controversial) dialogue within our community while also addressing the role of educational, governmental and business institutions in the development of our daily lives. The various freedoms and restrictions which are produced by these overbearing and ubiquitous social forces are the subject of our examinations and critiques. In creating bodies of work which defy popular institutional themes and incite panic amongst busybody neighbours, the Arbour Lake Sghool aligns itself with a certain disobedient spirit which seeks to dissect the world it lives in, while presenting possible alternatives. The supposed sub-cultures to which our members belong are necessarily just as susceptible to this critical interpretive stance.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. New York: Collier Books, 1962.