Teen Dream

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Teen Dream: The Bookcase’s last exhibition series for 2016


Bronze, Silver, and Gold

guest curator: Matthew Ryan Smith

This small collection of figure skating ephemera reads as a micro-simulacrum of the larger world of competitive figure skating; it serves as an unconventional travelogue that records the places I’ve visited to compete—Oshawa to Sarnia, St. John’s and Saskatoon. As such, it is part archive, part collection, and part autobiography that may be as reflective of me as it is a small segment of Canadiana. There is a darker side to these inanimate objects, however: the ruthless politics of competitive figure skating, the regret of quitting too early and of not pursuing coaching as a means of employment, the sting of nostalgia, the onset of arthritis in my knees and toes from repetitive movement, and the nagging question of “what could have been?” Yet this collection of medals, skates, and Beanie Babies may just be quirky and compelling aesthetic objects—red, white, and blue ribbon matched with bronze, silver, and gold.


“Dear Licorice Whip,”

This small exhibition documents the saved locker notes of the pseudonymous Licorice Whip, a high school student in the 1990s. Tales of friendship, enmity, judgment, and kindness are decorated with doodles and folded into intricate shapes, all together evidencing the highs and lows of teenage life. Licorice Whip was evidently a central figure in the dramas of her high school, a friend to the many who wrote to her for advice, confessed their crushes, or flew into angrily-written rages at the various mishaps of life. Accompanied with found photographs and yearbooks, “Dear Licorice Whip” is all about big hair, junk food, and dating, but also about very real problems, among them loss, confusion, and anger. Donated anonymously to the Bookcase, the Dear Licorice Whip notes are part of a lost tradition – the material recordings of angst, drama, and love.


The Author

Kirsty Robertson is an Associate Professor of contemporary art and museum studies at the University of Western Ontario.

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