In the midst of Mercer Union gallery footing the bill for Dean Baldwin's charge of driving an unsafe vehicle (Michel de Broin's 2005 piece, Shared Propulsion Car) I can't help but consider how distinctly unfun the traffic laws are in this province. Or maybe it's just a large, looming presence of cops desperate to reach the day's ticket quota. Perhaps a bit of both.
Charging somebody with driving an unsafe vehicle with no engine under the Highway Traffic Act designed specifically for motorized contraptions is not only a bit of a laugh, but a gross estimation of what constitutes safe in the first place. Prohibition of good times aside, I can't believe the police could be bothered with something of such so petty. This particular contraption was actually rendered more safe than those with engines and anti-lock brake systems. You can't exactly take it for a spin and run somebody over if you're going a whole nine kilometers an hour, can you? It's like cruising slowly in an oversized bicycle.
The law attempts to baby-sit us from harm potential, but oversteps what is dangerous in actuality, making functional art without persecution a complete impossibility. When the Mercer crew was pulled over in the Toronto incident, the officer couldn't actually decide what to charge them with, finally landing on the operation of an unsafe vehicle. The mastermind.
It's like we're somewhere in the Middle Ages and the populace has regressed into illiteracy and poor hygiene. This kind of law-biding arrogance is much akin to a bunch of firemen in front of a burning apartment complex with a big hose at the ready. They argue about which way to turn the faucet (regulations!) while the residents scream from the crumbling balcony.
The traffic officers have missed the point of public duty as well. They won't bother chasing a lead on a hit and run with a partial plate or following a car that has almost creamed a slow, elderly pedestrian, but come hell or high water, they'll be there if a bunch of artists want to push what is essentially (but not artfully) a big tin can around the block a few times. My giggling suddenly grinds to a screeching halt. This joke really isn't that funny anymore.*