Looking at the City of Hamilton from Ten Paces Outside the Municipal Boundaries,
Hamilton Pre-Amalgamation 2000

medium: 30 azo dye (cibachrome) colour photographic prints, each 9½ x 14 inches (24 x 36 cm).
installed dimensions: 7 feet high (from floor to top of frames) x 8 feet wide (213 cm high x 244 cm wide).

These road signs were standing on the boundary lines of the city of Hamilton as they existed in the year 2000, just before the city amalgamated the surrounding areas. At that time, everything behind these signs was part of the city of Hamilton, and everything in front of them was outside the city’s jurisdiction.

I photographed each of the signs from ten paces away — ten paces, that is, outside the municipal boundaries — and looked toward the city. The size of the signs varies because they were calibrated for the scale of the road where they were installed and the speed at which they were to be seen. Some of the roads that crossed Hamilton’s municipal boundaries in 2000 were two-lane country roads that passed by farms; others were multi-lane divided highways. There were boundaries running alongside shopping malls and car dealers in suburban areas; between one residence and another; and there was a boundary in the middle of a bridge.

The photographs of these urban spaces that are boldly labelled HAMILTON may or may not correspond to any image we hold of this city. They certainly do not match any received images I had before visiting Hamilton. Even residents may find that these places are outside their idea of what constitutes their city. And this was even before the amalgamation.

Marlene Creates, 2004