Muddying the Waters

By Mayes, Alison | Winnipeg Free Press, September 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Muddying the Waters


Mayes, Alison, Winnipeg Free Press


Multi-artist exhibit plays with notions of Winnipeg's history, mythology

Last year, Winnipeg art student Chantal DeGagne spent three months in Paris as a bilingual tour guide for My Winnipeg.

The large exhibition at La Maison Rouge, a contemporary gallery, showcased 71 artists whose visions have been shaped by our cold, isolated, economically challenged city -- a place that seems to exert a mythical pull on those who try to escape it.

Europeans arrived at the show with only the vaguest notion that Winnipeg was an exotic outpost in the untamed wilderness.

"It seemed like Timbuktu to them," says DeGagne, 29.

Yet they proved extremely curious about Winnipeggers' sense of identity. The guide found herself giving crash courses in geography, history, colonization and immigration. She explained, for instance, the significance of The Forks to provide context for Wanda Koop's huge painting Native Fires, based on seeing aboriginal people gathered around open fires on the riverbank.

Some droll Winnipeg wit required interpretation. Diana Thorneycroft's snowy diorama depicting hoser characters Bob and Doug McKenzie surrounded by hungry wolves was a puzzler to Parisians.

"(They asked), 'Is this real? Is this a joke?'" recalls DeGagne.

She tried to explain, "It's kind of a joke to us, but it's kind of real, seeing two dudes in parkas drinking beer in the middle of winter."

After the Paris run, My Winnipeg was shown for more than six months in the French city of Ste. In the two cities combined, more than 35,000 people viewed it. A critic in Artforum, an international magazine, said the show "lays bare the ingenuity of Winnipeg's artists, who counter their frosty environs with rare piquancy."

Now it's our turn to experience My Winnipeg, which takes its name from Guy Maddin's mythologizing film. Of course, we'll get all the in-jokes and untruths, from Daniel Barrow's video tribute to eccentric community-access TV to Marcel Dzama's 2007 city map, a quirky dreamscape in which wild animals chew on the Royal Canadian Mint building and a giant squid inhabits the Red River.

The show is so big that it will roll out in three chapters at the free-admission Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, which co-produced it. A fourth chapter will be added, bringing the total number of artists to more than 100 and extending the roll-out to mid-March.

The first chapter, There's No Place Like Home, opens Friday night and runs to Oct. 7, taking over the entire Plug In space. It includes a room-filling "image essay" by curator Sigrid Dahle that immerses the viewer in the Peg's history and culture. It's a collage of archival photos, ephemera such as postcards and posters, and artworks both historical and contemporary.

Noting the strong vein of surrealism in local art, Dahle points out that European surrealism arose in a period of great turmoil between the two world wars. She invites viewers to ponder whether Winnipeg surrealism might be a response to it being "a place in which the traumatic effects of colonialism, economic inequality and class warfare haunt the present."

In spite of trauma and hardship, though, "Winnipeg surrealism, to me, is shot through with humour," Dahle says. It's often playful and hopeful, like Metis artist Rosalie Favell's take on the ending of The Wizard of Oz, with Favell waking up in Dorothy's place to find Louis Riel at her window.

Besides Maddin, the most renowned local practitioners of surrealism are Dzama and the other members of the Royal Art Lodge, a collective that was active from 1996 to 2008, producing nave-looking works. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Muddying the Waters
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.