Exhibition Examines the Wrong Paths Taken

By Zoratti, Jen | Winnipeg Free Press, February 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Exhibition Examines the Wrong Paths Taken


Zoratti, Jen, Winnipeg Free Press


Every day, all over the world, millions of women and girls of all ages and backgrounds are the victims of gender-based violence -- be it physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or economical.

And every day, all over the world, millions of women and girls suffer in silence.

Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art, which opens Feb. 1 and runs until April 20 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, is a contemporary art exhibit that examines this pervasive social problem and seeks to create an open dialogue about it. Featuring the multimedia work of 30 well-known female artists -- including Yoko Ono, Marina Abramovic, Mona Hatoum and Wangechi Mutu, among others -- from 25 different countries, the exhibit deals with everything from trafficking to rape as a weapon of war.

A wide range of perspectives and experiences are represented, which is why artworks are grouped by several themes -- violence and the individual, violence and family, violence and the community, violence and politics, and violence and culture.

The travelling show has been presented all over the world since it debuted in Norway in 2009. It is curated by Randy Jayne Rosenberg, executive director, chief curator and founder of Art Works for Change, an American organization whose mission is to "harness the transformative power of art to promote awareness, provoke dialogue and inspire action."

When a proposal to bring Off the Beaten Path to Winnipeg crossed the desk of Helen Delacreatz, chief curator at the WAG, she was intrigued. "We get a lot of proposals but this one caught my eye. I was impressed by the slate of artists involved, but it's also an exhibit that has a lot of connections to this city. There's always so much in the press about missing and murdered aboriginal women," she says.

Indeed, aboriginal women face disproportionately higher rates of gendered violence in Canada than non-aboriginal women. Last week, a new public database compiled by Ottawa researcher Maryanne Pearce placed the number of missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada at 824. Manitoba accounts for 111 of that total.

With those grim stats in mind, the WAG was interested in localizing the show. "The exhibition was not built in Canada, so we've added two additional works from our Inuit Collection to bring it back home," Delacreatz says. She says the fact the artworks are from the North is significant to the Canadian experience: in 2013, Statistics Canada reported that Nunavut's rate of domestic violence is 13 times higher the national average.

The first work is Pitseolak's Hardships #1, by the late Inuit artist Napachie Pootoogook.

"She had these amazing autobiographical drawings that spoke to domestic and family abuse. …

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