Emily Carr (no relation) is a recent graduate of the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver. For her graduation project, she created a blog that depicts dozens of people dressed up in bunny costumes, a few people in the act of vomiting, a homeless man in a sleeping bag with his shopping cart beside him, several fetching women (Carr is an admitted lesbian), notable art works by not-well enough known artists, and oblique criticisms of all manner of writers, artists, celebrities, books, ideas and opinions, in Canada and abroad. The blog is called B=L=A=C=K=F=L=I=E=S LANGUAGE E=X=P=E=R=I=M=E=N=T=S and though it has experienced no promotional profiling whatsoever, it is nonetheless looked in on daily by many artists and writers internationally, all of whom seem to enjoy its merciless pluck, venomous wisdom and scatological brio.
Imagine Carr's surprise when some anonymous people wrote in to tell her that "bunnysuits are obscene" and have been trademarked by the Olympic Organizing Committee and she was breaking the law by using the bunnies on her blog.
"Sure enough, an investigation showed that Canada had passed Bill C-47, the Olympic and Bunnysuit Markings Act, legislation that provides the Vancouver Olympic organizers with extreme power over the symbols and language linked with the Olympics, including bunnysuits and Canadian Mounties" she writes in a commentary on her blog.
She went ahead and continued to update the blog anyway. It garnered enough attention that it earned a Vancouver Sun review, but unlike the other four blogs reviewed by the Sun, Carr's blog wasn't given a prize.
"Had the Vancouver Sun been so intimidated about liability issues pertaining to any formation of 'Vancouver 2010' ," she wonders, "that they wouldn't hand over the prize?"
Appropriating objects from our culture is necessary, Carr argues, "relevant issues become visible to a broader, public audience, challenging the notions of political authority, as a result."
After learning that she may find herself in an expensive and protracted court case if she continued to update he blog with bunnies, Carr instead sought permission from VANOC to continue updating the blog. It was granted, but for only limited applications. She met with Colin Jarvis, VANOC's manager of Commercial Rights Management.
"When I met with Mr. Jarvis, he was very accommodating and open to answering all my questions. He assured me that VANOC's position is that they are not interested in litigation with artists and that artists have a right to critique.
"When discussing my blog, Jarvis said that VANOC would not have a problem with it. However, if Carr put stickers on bill boards across the Downtown Eastside advertising her blog, there would be a problem because that action would be considered more in the light of my creating a 'campaign', as opposed to displaying works of art. "So how do I know where the threshold is before I cross the boundary into creating allegedly illegal art?" Carrs asks rhetorically.
There is only one way for her to find out. At Vancouver 2010, Carr intends to go for the gold.