• Artist Project

What’s Inside Kablusiak’s Surprise Bags?

Feb 22, 2023
by Kablusiak

Were Wagon Wheels actually better in the 1980s, or did your palate change as you grew into a more refined adult? How much of the longing we have for the joys of childhood is really us changing and growing as people and how much is it changes made to the products and experiences we remember loving? For this artist project, Kablusiak considers the fleeting excitement and possibilities of the surprise bags of their youth and how that feeling can be applied to their work as an artist today. Does the excitement of receiving a mystery tchotchke mean the same thing when you’re in charge of your own spending money and you’ve spent decades decoding what excites your fancy? 

Kablusiak Party City (where you belong) (2022) Courtesy Norberg Hall © THE ARTIST

Anyone familiar with Kablusiak’s work knows that “surprise” is the perfect descriptor for their art and art collectors far and wide would be excited to get their hands on one of these colourful multiples created for the exhibition Party City (where you belong) (2022), which ran at Norberg Hall in Calgary, AB, from December 9, 2022, to January 28, 2023. Each of the seven surprise bags contain eight new works reminiscent of childhood memories. In this video, we have the pleasure of discovering the contents of a surprise bag with the artist as they tear it open and reveal the delightful treasures inside. 

Kablusiak Party City (where you belong) (2022) Photo Philip Kanwischer Courtesy Norberg Hall © THE ARTIST

In an accompanying essay by curator Missy LeBlanc, artist multiples are likened to surprise bags, in how they are “(typically) accessible, democratic and allow the artist to reach a wider public,” yet are susceptible to the inherent consumerism of the art market. LeBlanc’s essay, What is the value of a memory asks, “What constitutes an art object and why are some more ‘worthy’ than others. What is the value of art? If the art object is just a reflection of a memory, what then is the value of a memory? Can you really put a price on nostalgia?”

Get ready to revel in adult fun, as Kablusiak shares what's hidden in their goodie bags, including stone-carved “candies” wrapped in crinkly cellophane and gumball-machine–sized embroidery. All that’s missing are sticky fingers and jealous sisters.  


CanadaCouncilLogoLongThis series was made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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