The first in a series of shows exposing smaller towns as undiscovered creative hubs, “My Winnipeg” highlights noteworthy artists inhabiting the world’s coldest city. Put on by Paris’ Maison Rouge Gallery, each exhibit is twofold, serving as both broad studies of the selected city’s overall culture and as work relevant to the international contemporary art scene.
My Winnipeg raises questions about how Winnipeg, Canada may have influenced each artist, in terms of climate, geography and history. Could its impossible weather— comprised of harsh, long winters, floods and mosquito-invaded summers—be behind the sleepy state-of-mind imprinting some of the work? Is its location in the middle of an Indian territory the key to many of the artists’ relationships with mythical spirits? Does the city’s former post as a cosmopolitan trading center influence its current surge of dynamic creativity?
Challenged with how to turn this ethnological approach into an art show, the gallery supplys meaningful background information while allowing the works to speak for themselves, devoid of local particularities. In the end, the artists appear to share similar concerns about society as their peers do in bigger metropolises.
Works by artists like Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, Wanda Koop, Kent Monkman, Bonnie Marin and Diana Thorneycroft span all mediums—from painting to performance art—to create a definitive visual statement about their native town. Standing out among them is Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin’s 2007 documentary, also dubbed “My Winnipeg.” The film taps Winnipeg’s folkloric history, featuring beautifully hallucinatory images, speaking to Maddin’s sentiment that cinema is a haunted media since it shows people and things which are not really present.
“My Winnipeg” is currently on view at Maison Rouge and runs through 25 September 2011.