Station 5 | Prairie (Magic) Realism(s)
Dunlop Art Gallery
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
January 30 – February 19, 2017


Prairie (Magic) Realism(s) juxtaposes the works in Saskatchewan Gothic against an equally strong impulse in contemporary prairie art filmmaking: realism. With this impulse, an interesting tension is expressed between works which accept the possibility of magic in the rational world and propose representing its problems through the artful conventions of fables, myths, dreams, memories and allegory; and works which insist on the sustained power of non-fiction film to document, instruct, and create a direct historical record of social and cultural problems and their traumatic effects. Prairie (Magic) Realism(s) parcels up the everyday with the fantastic, presenting powerful documentaries by Indigenous filmmakers Trudy Stewart and Janine Windolph on colonial themes of Aboriginal gender identity and the residential school legacy, alongside kindred films by artists with a very topical interest in people's emotional experience of the prairie's colonial hinterlands. There have been signs in recent years that, surrounded by monumental environmental, economic and social change here and elsewhere, Canadian prairie spaces have turned from doing to thinking, and that its imagination is growing heavy to the point of overflowing, evidenced by an artist cinema that retreats into the imagination, even as the simultaneous celebration and grieving of marginalized cultures in more traditional documentary forms flourishes. Prairie (Magic) Realism(s) occupies the creative borderland where dispossession, inner identities, Indigenous stories and settler identities are configured and reconfigured by artists using realism to navigate place in new ways as a complex post-contact meeting ground.