Station 4 | Saskatchewan Gothic

Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan, Armenia,
July 14
– 28, 2015

Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
January 16 – 29, 2017

 

The Saskatchewan Gothic program situates itself through the concept of the “prairie gothic”—an aesthetic approach in the history of prairie art and literature that has aimed to capture the unique sense of being-in-place that has been part of prairie identity in Canada throughout the 20th century and which persists in new forms into the 21st century. The popular prairie has primarily been defined by its flat, minimalist landscape, which, like its population, is seen as both banal and extreme, and strangely unknowable. In Saskatchewan, with its traumatic history of geographical isolation, insulated farming communities, punishing climate, outmigration during the years of the Great Depression, and, until recently, economic stasis, the dark impulse of the gothic sensibility manifests in offbeat and ironic combinations of rural “fairy tale innocence” and “sinister innuendo” that go “way beyond normal.”[1] Filmmakers who have experimented with such forms include Amalie Atkins, Ian Campbell, Mike Rollo and Gerald Saul. However, in recent years, the insights of Aboriginal artists, such as Dana Claxon and David Garneau, have come to remind us that the “prairie gothic” is a decidedly white settler perspective, and they further challenge the darkness underlying ‘Saskatchewan prairie identity’ by exposing the destructive if not genocidal aspects of colonial prairie history and white racism—aspects which Atkins, Campbell and Saul have also come to critique in their work. Moreover, as Saskatchewan’s economy has diversified in recent years, and the province opens its doors to the world, the influx of international immigrants, many with their own traumatic backgrounds as refugees and victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide, bring new voices that continue to broaden and deepen definitions of Saskatchewan identity on the prairie horizon.

 

 

Thus, in the broader context of Meet in the Middle, Regina becomes a cross-cultural meeting ground and the works in Station 4, Saskatchewan Gothic, attempt to show how the local connects with transnational realities as a relatively closed region of Canada opens itself to contact with diverse people, their memories and ways of being, and their own traumatic histories and struggles with imperialism, colonialism, racism, belonging and place.
 

 [1] Prairie Gothic, MacKenzie Art Gallery, October 22, 2011-January 22, 2012. See: http://www.mackenzieartgallery.ca/engage/exhibitions/prairie-gothic

PROGRAMME

Amalie Atkins, Listening to the Past/Listening to the Future (2013)
2min 58sec

Dana Claxton, The Hill (2004)
3min 49sec

Mike Rollo, Ghosts and Gravel Roads (2008)
15min 53sec

Ian Campbell, The First Engine (2015)
6min 31sec

This film is distributed through the Winnipeg Film Group.
https://www.winnipegfilmgroup.com/films/first-engine-the/

Gerald Saul, Four short films from 25 Short Films in and About Saskatchewan (1999)
15min 40sec (excerpt)

God Daughter (1998)
3min 50sec

Dance (1995)
3min 50sec

Price Includes Packaging (1998)
3min 50sec

Heavy Machinery has Right of Way (1999)
3min 50sec

David Garneau, Wash Day (2014)
3min 12sec

Amalie Atkins, Braid Harvesters (2013)
5min 09sec