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Todd Tremeer: War Games

Play and war come together in an unusual DIY format in Todd Tremeer’s Little Wars (Make Me), an interactive project that debuted this month in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s experimental LAB project space. Using stamps based on 16th-century woodblock designs, Tremeer’s installation offers visitors the chance to alter and collaborate on a mural-sized battleground on the gallery’s walls—a constantly evolving tactical and creative negotiation. The project takes its name from H.G. Wells’ landmark book Little Wars, which proposed that wars be fought with toy cannons, miniature soldiers and improvised battlefields on a tabletop scale, rather than with real-life human bodies and homes. Tremeer’s choice of imagery reflects Wells’ original pacifist intentions by providing stamps of animals, trees and houses alongside more aggressive figures of mounted knights and tanks; the range suggests that viewers might choose to have a platoon of cattle triumph over their human counterparts, or that a wall of trees might crop up as an adequate defense against encroaching artillery. Shown alongside Detachment, an army of 150 paper-cutout soldiers—ones viewers can also purchase from the gallery gift shop and construct at home to form their own, domestically focused regiment—Little Wars (Make Me) offers the possibility to engage with battle in a hands-on manner and to “bring the war home” in an ingenious and surprisingly whimsical way. (1040 Moss St, Victoria BC)

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