Industry and the Sleepwatchers is a re-imagined narrative of the relationship between the artist’s grandmother and grandfather. On a personal level, it began as a coping mechanism for Senetchko to deal with the loss of his paternal grandmother. Ann Senetchko slipped into dementia in late 2010, and died on September 11, 2012 at 8:30pm in Edmonton. Her husband, Pete Senetchko had died 30 years early. Jay Senetchko was very close to the first, and barely knew the other. It’s nice to think that their life together was a happy one in the time they had, but impossible to know. What is fairly certain to the artist are two things however: firstly, that during their marriage they spent a good deal of time apart due to his grandfather’s involvement in the Alberta oil patch as a toolpush; and secondly, that after his death his grandmother experienced a steady decline into a life that was very sad, very lonely, and ultimately terrifying.
On a topical level the series deals with the positive and negative aspects of the oil and gas industry. From Senetchko’s perspective, the oil and gas industry and the domestic life which it supported in the case of his grandparents are indissolubly intertwined…for both good and ill. Further, he sees this relationship between industry and domesticity as definitive of contemporary reality. His grandparents in these pictures serve as metaphors for their respective spheres of influence in that reality. Industry and domesticity are, and always have been, players in an ongoing drama.