Squads | 2008


Colour photograph
31.75" x 40"
Edition of 5

Beginning in the 1870’s, the Shetland Islands have hosted a fire festival known as “Up Helly Aa”. The event has evolved from an improvised Pagan ritual during the winter solstice into its current form as a highly organized Viking themed celebration. Yearly, over 900 costumed men participate, making up over 40 different thematic groups. This work proposes a consumerist North American approach to the festival, suggesting the inevitable influence globalization will have on this event in the foreseeable future. In response to the festival parading a life-size Viking ship through the streets and then burning it, I have made fireplace sized oak Viking ship models. The owner can display the ship for about a year after which they would host a ship-burning party of their own. The burning ship will be documented and an enlarged framed print will serve as the finished piece. It will be accompanied by a small framed group photo of all the guests in attendance, in the same manner as the “squad” photos of the original event. Each photograph will be a unique print as it documents a performance experienced by the owner and their choice of friends or family.