Black bears are quite common in the great Canadian outdoors, although not so banal as to be expected in the Tim Hortons parking lot. But when they are found in such urban Canadian environments it is because they are hungry. In search of a good steady supply of food not provided by their natural habitat, and yes, usually alone being the solitary beasts that they are. A euphemism, perhaps, for the Canadian immigrant in this new project by recently landed Italian/Roman native Giovanni Capriotti, who seems to be telling a very personal story in Moon Safari of the lonely outsider in a new, unfamiliar and even otherworldly landscape.
Usually his fey backdrops and hyperreal subjects tell of enchanting tales, but here they seem to portray a cold, chilly environment - physically, geographically and, I guess, even emotionally for this gregarious and passionate mediterranean boy. Capriotti admits, "I decided to call it Moon Safari and not the Great Canadian Outdoors, which was what I was first calling it, because it feels like everyone is seeking permanent residency in this 'new world' as a sort of reward or a big conquer like the moon was back in the sixties, but are you really sure you we could live on the moon?"
And so we are guided across this foreigner's environ on a safari, mingling with local traditions and habits. Confronting me in these images - me as local, as Canadian, as accustomed - is the empty, gritty, greyness of our largest, pristine and colourful economic hub. In Talisman, our local, and certainly National, icon visited by 1.5 million people a year is surrounded by but one lonely soul who seems not at all attracted to its grandeur. Kelly Watch the Stars and Remember somehow convert our crisp neon skyline into a dirty, grainy industrial wasteland. And, well, nearly all of them are dreary, only hinting at any tone in our kaleidoscopic mosaic.
That is until Unemployed on Summertime and Egowar where we begin to see colour, growth, engagement with the surroundings. A hopeful end to this recent immigrant dreamy perspective? Moon Safari does call into question the inhabitability of the moon, but simultaneously presents its inhabitants - cold, misplaced, joining the race, or otherwise.