Life of a Craphead

Two new public billboard works, located on the façades of Café Cherrier and the Bonsecours Market.

An off-site extension of our exhibition programming, dedicated to the dissemination of contemporary image practices, Dazibao satellite aims to stimulate discussions around current social issues and the integration of art into everyday life.

Dazibao is excited to be presenting $100 Bill With South Asian Scientist Added Back In, a work especially conceived by the artist duo Life of a Craphead for Dazibao satellite. With these two impressive images, the artists revise and reimagine the history of the $100 Canadian bill.

In light of recent changes made to the new $10 Canadian bill, which features for the first time a racialized Canadian historical figure, Viola Desmond, the artists revisit a 2012 controversy around the potential design of a new $100 Canadian bill. The original design, presented in 2012, included the depiction of a scientist. However, after having supposedly received a number of critiques vis-à-vis the scientist appearing too “Asian-looking,” the design was changed in favour of a more “ethnically neutral” (meaning White) depiction ― an incident which solicited a formal apology from the Bank of Canada.

Applying the critical approach and frank yet understated humour that is often seen in their works, the artists have re-rendered what they imagine the rejected 100$ bill might have looked like, in order to bring to discussion the under-representation of minority groups in the landscape of the Canadian imagery. At the Bonsecours Market, a larger-than-life sized $100 bill undoubtedly catches the eye. But upon closer inspection, you might notice that something is indeed different; that is, only if you are lucky enough to be familiar with the bill or if you have one in your pocket! At Café Cherrier, the variant detail is magnified for us to see: a South Asian scientist replaces the white one. The difference is subtle, and yet it incites us to interrogate the multiple ways in which power is exercised, especially through an object so highly sought out.

Life of a Craphead is a collaboration between two artists, Amy Lam and Jon McCurley. Their works inlcude performance art, film, as well as curatorial practices. The name Life of a Craphead is inspired from their first performance in 2006. Amy is Chinese and Jon is Vietnamese-Irish. Both artists live and work in Toronto. In 2018, Life of a Craphead was nominated for the Sobey Art Award. Their exhibition, Entertaining Every Second has been shown at TRUCK Contemporary Art (Calgary), AKA (Saskatoon) and at CLARK (Montréal). In 2017, their work King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don River, commissioned by the Don Valley River Park, created several debates. Their first feature film Bugs (2016) has screened in Canada and the U.S., including at Night Gallery (Los Angeles), The Western Front (Vancouver), Parsons School of Design (New York), The Khyber Centre for the Arts (Halifax), and S1 (Portland, OR).

This project has been realized with the generous support of the Caisse Desjardins du Plateau-Mont-Royal.

Dazibao thanks the artists, the Café Cherrier (Alexandre and Jacques Boisseau) and the Bonsecours Market (Claude Pronovost) for their invaluable assistance as well as the Musée d’art urbain for the donation of the billboards.

Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.