In the week leading up to Remembrance Day on November the 11th, PATO will be featuring various memorials to Canada’s valiant war heroes.
Firstly, Monument to the War of 1812 portrays these soldiers as children’s playthings, scattered and discarded haphazardly. It conjures a sense of things lost to the horrors of war: innocence, joy, life’s simple pleasures. These are things that our veterans struggle to get back having survived deployment to a conflict zone. Many never find them again.
Then there is the invocation of soldiers as playthings to those in power. This is particularly apparent when you consider modern conflicts, such as the Iraq War. Are these men and women fighting to protect our freedoms? Or are they merely pawns, shuffled from one battleground to the next, in order to guarantee that power remains in the hands of a small group, or to protect a multinational’s access to oil and other rapidly depleting resources?
Finally, there is the statement Coupland is making about the maturity of those who would use armed conflict as a means to resolve differences. That these people, no more than overgrown babies, hastily gathered up their toys while stomping other’s into the dirt, and leaving something very precious in their wake. Some pieces are lucky and are still standing at the end of the day, while others are lying broken in the dust.
I like this work. It may be glib, but for Coupland it is glibness with a point. If you take a moment, and really think about what his work is saying, you will find the Monument to the War of 1812 is a worthy memorial to those who fought and died in the last martial conflict on Canadian soil.
Learn more about Douglas Coupland’s Monument to the War of 1812.
SOURCES: City News: What is that?: Towering toy soldier in Toronto stands above defeated American, (Nov. 5, 2016) http://www.citynews.ca/2016/04/20/what-is-that-towering-toy-soldier-in-toronto-stands-above-defeated-american/
Douglas Coupland: Monument to the War of 1812, (Nov. 5, 2016) https://www.coupland.com/public-arts/monument-to-the-war-of-1812