Anti-Tourism Tour
Anti-Tourism Tour - Combined Logo

The Anti-Tourist

A tourist and an anti-tourist meet along the outer limits of a site commonly referred to as a “destination.” While it would be uncommon for the tourist to venture far from this territory, the anti-tourist is known to cross over into all parts. For the anti-tourist, it is not the site that determines her bearing so much as how she engages with different spaces. Nevertheless, the tourist is somewhat startled by the encounter. The surprise is quickly converted to disdain when the tourist perceives this fellow traveler as contrarian and antagonistic.

“Aren’t you special!” Charges the tourist, sarcastically referring to the fact that it is not every day that one encounters an “anti-tourist.”

“Special is precisely what I am not.”

Gathering force, the anti-tourist continues, “This is why you find me here, along the margins of the tourist map, one foot firmly planted outside of the clamor and all of the savory deliverables. I prefer the term ‘minor’ to ‘special’, I speak in a minor language and engage in that which interrogates classical conceptions of place. Let us overturn the authoritative pronouncements of “once and for all” with a casual “what’s happening?” Minor histories of place are rife within these shunted districts, hence the anti- tour is fascinated with the minutiae of details to be found in the everyday, neglected surfaces that, as it turns out, are teaming with life. Besides which, censorship serves only to paper over what doesn’t jive with the touristic narrative, but still unruly matters persist under the surface.

Incredulous the tourist exclaims, “You can’t be serious! All of this cultivated beauty, the resources brought to bear, and you spend your time shuffling through industrial sections and back alleys! What a waste!”

The anti-tourist is unphased by the dismissal. “Beauty is but one attribute of place,” she responds, “and not of a higher order than any other attribute or quality. When we engage in erecting hierarchies along these lines, by privileging “beauty” for example, we judge the present alive for what is worthy of our attention, and we fail the test of the eternal return.

Still aghast the tourist asks in an exasperated tone, “You come all this way and … what is to be gained?” Without missing a beat the anti-tourist reflects on the question of acquisition.

“You ask me what is to be gained; decidedly not a deliverable, decidedly not something promised. What is to be gained is not a fixed “ideal” but rather an unpredictable “real.” We take the anti-tour to discover the chaos underneath the button-down order. Given these conditions we know in our hearts that a place can not be “gained,” like a notch on a belt, and an experience can never be total, it is bound to be FRAG-MEN-TARY.

Having conceded much of the exchange the tourist finally bellows, “Why do you hate me so?!”

Again the reply is served from an unexpected angle: “I don’t hate you or any person.” She states, “The ‘anti-’ of anti-tourism is not opposed to any person, it is rather opposed to the nature of tourism as a form of consumption. Given that any form of consumption leaves a footprint, tourism is not an innocent affair. Quite simply, tourism is the commodification of place, trading as it does in pleasurable memories. Having said this, the nature of an anti-tourist consumption turns on how one grapples with her presence in a space and is mindful of the fact it too is engaged in consumption. Her recognition of territory is nuanced and attentive to life’s rich pageant, not restrained to the topical treatments of a consumer industry and the optics ultimately conceived of as a service to the state apparatus.”

Wearable Sandwich Board (front)
Artist David LaRiviere with his wearable sandwich board.

Acknowledgements

The artist would like to gratefully acknowledge the support from the following organizations that made this project possible.

Canada Council logo
Saskatchewan Arts Board