On Sunday May 13th, 2012, U of A graduate and artist Aimée Henny Brown boarded a train at Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station and left for Toronto on The Canadian, one of three trans-provincial passenger rail lines. Packed in her luggage are bundles of handmade letterpress tickets, printed broadsides and blank telegrams. Each day she is onboard Brown dons a uniform, neatly arranges these printed materials, unpacks her typewriter and assumes the persona of an early twentieth-century rail station agent. This performance, carried out twice a day within VIA Rail passenger cars, mimics the movements and actions of this often overlooked figure, one who played a critical role in linking the Canadian railway to the territories and communities it passed through.
After disembarking at Toronto’s Union Station four days later, Brown shared her stories and mementos at an artist performance and public reception held at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Weston Family Learning Centre. By assembling a portable station agent booth, outfitted with a typewriter and the same printed materials that have accompanied her on her journey, Brown transformed the space into a conceptual train station. After her presentation, she repacked her luggage and reprised the station agent role while retracing her route back to Vancouver.
On Friday, May 25, she found herself coming through Edmonton and being interviewed by Richard Hart of CBC AM during which she disucssed the inspiration for her journey which caught my attention, especially they way she integrated past and present communication technologies into telling her story, before and after the voyage.
About the Artist
Born and raised in Western Canada, Aimée Henny Brown completed her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at the University of Alberta. After moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2005, she obtained her Masters in Fine and Media Arts at NSCAD University in 2007. Brown’s artistic practice engages archives and research to place historical content within contemporary performance and visual art. She has received several awards and grants, notably the Joseph Beuys Scholarship for Artistic Merit, a Canada Council Creation Grant, and an honourable mention at the 2011 Halifax Contemporary Visual Art Awards. Brown has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, with group shows in Germany and Los Angeles, and has completed several artist residencies in North America, most recently a five-month residency with Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a year-long artist-in-residence program with Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia.