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The North American IcebergEnlarge image

The North American Iceberg, 1985

Carl Beam
Canadian, 1943 - 2005
acrylic, photo-serigraph, and graphite on plexiglas
213.6 x 374.1 cm
Purchased 1986
National Gallery of Canada (no. 29515)

This composition includes images and stencilled phrases drawn from records of current events and from First Nations histories. Juxtaposing these appropriated images to create tenuous connections between the past and the present, Beam constructs a sort of fragmented text, which suggests a critique of the technological imperative that drives Western civilization, effacing the differences between cultures and destroying resistance to that imperative. Beam also includes images of himself, inviting comparison with representations of nineteenth-century Aboriginal peoples, and drawing points of contact and contrast between the natural and the technological worlds and between recent and historical conquests and points of resistance. Within this collage of change, Beam labels himself as the artist both "flying" and "still."

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