Aubrey Burke is almost ready to tell us about ourselves.
Burke, a Victoria-based artist, has been in town for almost a year on a grant through the Canada Council for the Arts, listening to the stories of the community, and throughout August and September, he’ll be sharing those stories back to us.
“I’ve been quite busy,” Burke says with an infectious smile. “I’ve been recording people’s stories and just being out in the community here in Campbell River, over on Quadra and even over on Cortes. It’s been great.”
Going into the project, he didn’t know what to expect – either of the town or how the project would come together.
But the project, much like the town, Burke says, “has been pretty expansive in how it has found itself.”
While talking to the community, he says, the project began to take shape in his mind. He wanted the final product to come together organically, so to speak. He wanted the community to tell him, through their stories, how to best tell those stories.
“It’s been interesting, because there’s so much to capture,” he says. “While it’s impossible to grab everything, it’s been exciting to try and take a snapshot as an outsider dropping into a community and exploring what it feels about itself, in a way.”
So how does Campbell River feel about itself?
“I kind of had this preconceived notion of a hard-working town with maybe not really a lot going on, and I’ve been presently surprised. It’s been a beautiful experience to see how much the people here care about this place,” he says, looking back on his year.
“People here are, by and large, extremely satisfied with their place in the world. People talk about the untapped gem that it is and how people don’t really know about it, and they really take pride in that.”
And now it’s time to celebrate that pride the community has in itself by disseminating the work he’s been doing. He will use some unused “community spaces” to project his findings – mainly empty storefronts in the downtown core – throughout August and September.
“We’ve been taking a lot of portraits of the people we’ve been speaking to and the people around the city and we’re going to project those along with quotes about how people feel about it here, and their stories about this place.”
The idea, Burke says, is to have people stumble across the projections by accident.
“Part of the joy of producing art like this is to surprise people. It’s kind of designed to be a series of things that people can stumble upon by accident and go ‘whoa. What is this?’ and then learn something about themselves or be intrigued and encouraged to be introspective in a way they might not otherwise be spurred to be. You’ll be able to walk around the downtown of the city at night and see it lit up with this ephemera of the collective face and voice of Campbell River,” he says.
Burke says he’s also still looking for youth involvement in a video production aspect of the project, as well. He’s looking for people between six and 26 years of age who want to make short, three to six minute videos to show during September as part of the project. He’s got gift certificates to give away to those who get involved, as well, as an incentive for participation.
For more information about how to be involved, or if you just want to know more about the project, contact Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org, text or call 250-504-0076 or go online and check out storyboothproject.info