Meet in the Middle | Stations of Migration and
Memory Between Art and Film
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 2014-2017
A project by Elizabeth Matheson and Christine Ramsay for Strandline Curatorial Collective and the University of Regina, in association with Timothy Long (Head Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery) and Rachelle Viader Knowles (Senior Lecturer, Coventry University; and Adjunct Professor, University of Regina).
Meet in the Middle | Stations of Migration and Memory Between Art and Film is a curated series of exhibitions, screenings, events and exchanges linked by the theme of trauma that underlies contemporary experiences of migration and its memorialization. Unfolding over three years in a series of stations, the project enables audiences to stopover, encounter, intersect, reflect, locate and relocate themselves relative to the experiences and memories of diverse flows of people. The art/film practices of expanded cinema, through which those experiences are recalled and documented, stage a unique meeting ground for citizens affected by questions of global migration, and for artists and curators working through those questions at the nexus between art and film in their creative research and practice.
International in scope, Meet in the Middle is designed to connect the work of artists, filmmakers, curators and researchers variously dealing with this theme at the intersection between the white cube of the gallery and the black box of the theatre. A special focus of the project is to create a dialogue between Saskatchewan (Canada) and Armenia—two relatively isolated geographical areas with common histories of genocidal trauma—while profiling the work of renowned Canadian-Armenian filmmaker Atom Egoyan as it articulates the theme of memorializing trauma, at both the political and personal levels.
Fourteen stations are conceived for this journey, comprising art/film exhibitions, artistic residencies and art production, archival research and curation, student training, audience exploration and engagement, a public symposium of international scholars, catalogue, publications, and tours. Together they create an international crossroads in which the City of Regina is transformed into a gathering place, a central terminal, and a conceptual hub where we can engage with the pressing transnational issue of the migration of people, ideas, experiences, and memories, and explore their points of contact and difference.
Regina is a place that has historically inhabited both the margins and centre of Canadian consciousness. Located in the province of Saskatchewan on the Canadian plains at great distances from other major cities, the area nevertheless claims an important history of transformational undercurrents in art and film: The first Arts Board in North America; the first art gallery in a public library, the Dunlop Art Gallery, which became an important international model for public access to the arts; the Yorkton Film Festival, sister to Cannes and Edinburgh, and the longest running documentary festival in North America. Today Regina continues to innovate in new media exhibition methodologies and display, and enjoys a growing festival scene, including Indigenous perspectives through the Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective and mispon: A Celebration of Indigenous Filmmaking.
In Regina, the legacy of art and film are powerful forms for the continuing exploration of belonging, particularly as Indigenous concerns become increasingly visible through the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and new immigration patterns further diversify the cultural dynamics of the city. There are several organizations working collaboratively across art and film, the white cube and the black box, the analogue and digital divide, the gallery and site specificity to take their place in the contemporary global landscapes of expanded cinema and create a place for local, national, and international artists, curators and audiences to come together to “meet in the middle.”