French-Canadian artist Benjamin Larose was born in a snowstorm in 1983 in Quebec. After writing a memoir in 2016, Larose found comfort in his auspicious birth, linking his “forceful and unstoppable” personality to the power and unpredictable nature of snowstorms. For The Autotopographers, Larose intends to create a monumental assemblage of snow globes, or what he calls “contained snowstorms.” These will be accompanied by a sound piece that starts with a single snow globe song and builds to a cacophony of overlapping melodies. Larose’s piece explores the idea of locating important facets of his individual identity and personal memories inside a group of mass-produced souvenirs that are intended to be universal and adaptive to anyone’s experience.
As a Quebecois, Larose’s understanding of a personal experience serving as a reflection of a collective heritage or memory is paramount to the formation of himself. In 1972, with the passage of Quebec’s Cultural Property Act, local officials were empowered to designate places, buildings, works of art, ethnological objects, archaeological sites, historical collections, and archives or ephemeras as cultural entities warranting protection. In 2012, this act was reimagined as the Quebec Cultural Heritage Act, which takes into account the informal and grassroots efforts that can lead to sites being designated as nationally important. This Quebecois accounting for a more collective and community-based idea of history, centered on places and objects, should be understood as an important background to Larose’s installation and the formation of his identity.