DECIPHER IMAGES / FILMS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KAROL ORZECHOWSKI

FIELD TRIP

FORMAT: Digital

DIRECTED BY: karol orzechowski

SCREENINGS: coming soon…

field trip takes the viewer through a typical day at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s Education Ring, where thousands of children per year are conditioned to accept a corporate-sponsored and increasingly mechanized system of intensive animal agriculture. The film was shot entirely on location at the Fair over the course of one day of presentations.

The Fair, which happens annually in Toronto in November, draws tens of thousands of people. Held at the Ricoh Coliseum, it is billed as an event where “the rural meets the urban,” where adults and children alike can learn about agricultural production and connect directly with the people (and animals) that produce their food. Unfortunately, the Fair is setup very much like a typical trade show, with agrictural corporations and some smaller companies paying top dollar for the precious real estate of the Fair floor. Representatives from corporations such as Semex vie for the attention of prospective buyers, while the general public might browse the butter sculptures or booths selling artisan cheese and beeswax candles.

I spent four days at the Fair and was surprised to see the intense focus on “education,” especially as it related to children and adolescents. School kids from around Toronto (approximately 25,000 over the course of the Fair) are brought to the Education Ring to learn about cow milking, goat milking, and sheep shearing. These presentations are sponsored and mounted by associations of producers, whose main priority is first and foremost to push their particular animal product.

I was skeptical whether or not anything was actually being learned. The Ring used a fairly low-grade sound system, and coupled with the noisy equipment used to pump milk out of the cows and goats and the shaver used to shear the sheep, it was often difficult to hear what the presenter was saying. Generally speaking, the children looked somewhat bored and restless, only seeming to perk up at the sight of a cow defecating or urinating on the floor. Still, the Ring functioned very well as a site of ambient education, where practices were normalized by simply being near them.