The My Winnipeg Project was initiated over two years ago as a collaborative curatorial exploration of Winnipeg. The curators were faced with the issue of attempting to represent the gestalt of an entire city and artistic community, one that holds an historically diverse artistic presence. The outcome was to create a series of exhibitions and a publication that traversed various avenues including Winnipeg’s social anachronisms, political tensions, and histories.
For its final chapter at Plug In ICA, the curators invited each participating artist to nominate another Winnipeg artist—and one artwork by that artist—to be included in My Winnipeg: The Artists’ Choice. The original My Winnipeg artists became curatorial collaborators for the final exhibit, influencing the selection of artworks critically altering the project’s course. Their selection provided Plug In ICA with innumerable perspectives on ideas this final chapter could explore.
After careful examination of each nomination, the work selected for the final chapter interestingly coalesced around depictions of family—explorations of past, present, and how notions of “family” contribute to the city’s social imaginary.
While searching through her father’s archive, Erica Eyres stumbled upon a portfolio of studio portraits and wedding photographs taken during the 1970s. The portraits are at once familiar to her as they were displayed in Eyres’s childhood home, but also strange as she personally has no knowledge of the persons they feature. The photographs are simultaneously her own family photographs, as well as photographs of other people’s families. Eyres recreated these photographs as larger-than-life graphite drawings. She states, “on the one hand, these pieces are an attempt to study and become closer to my father’s photographs, to memorialise them, and elongate the ephemeral photographic instant into a remaking that takes days to render. On the other, the drawings point towards a sense of loss, as they dwarf the original images with their over-bearing presence, taking precedence so that the photographs are no longer visible.”
Steven Nunoda’s Ghostown recalls memories endured by both of his parents during the Japanese interment during the Second World War. The installation consists of 80 miniature tarpaper scale models of the cramped shacks Japanese Canadian workers were forced to build for their own incarceration. Looming over the collection of shacks, Nunoda’s Ladder to the Moon provides a beacon of hope and child-like creativeness, as the piece was inspired from a conversation with Nunoda’s own daughter.
Paul Cherwick’s carved wooden figure Triumphant Return, is a figure modeled after Jon Pylypchuk’s five-year old son. Pylypchuk, a former member of Winnipeg’s Royal Art Lodge collective, was an artist in My Winnipeg: There’s No Place Like Home. Both Pylypchuk and Cherwick left Winnipeg after completing their undergraduate degrees at the University of Manitoba and moved to Los Angeles where they have been perusing their artistic careers. The two Winnipeggers have maintained a connection throughout the years, never quite leaving Winnipeg behind. The figure stands just over three feet high and references Cherwick’s interests in German Baroque alter pieces. The expression and stance is one that a five-year old could best muster, adding a sense of humour to the original form.
In depicting the intimate relationship that is hidden among families, Richard Hines has been accompanying and photographing strangers on their vacations since 2008. Hines Vacation Project series has taken him on numerous vacations across Canada and internationally. D’s Shoulder and K, Summer 2011, Cape St. George, Newfoundland was photographed inD’s and K’s hotel bedroom while on vacation in Newfoundland. As an outsider to the relationship, Hines navigates the connection between the individuals, their interactions, and himself as the photographer. As a further process, Hines invited the couple to respond to the photograph resulting with the quote “Why did we leave where we were to come over here,” to be etched across the photographs’ surface.
My Winnipeg: The Artists’ Choice is a continued analysis of Winnipeg’s artists, history, and their combined pasts that have made Winnipeg and its artistic scene the topic of numerous discussions in recent years. Nearly all of the work presented in this chapter has been created since the opening of the first My Winnipeg in 2011, underscoring Winnipeg’s artists’ desire to continue exploring the thematic traits that make Winnipeg truly unique.
The artists include Steven Ackerman, Jamie Black, Teresa Braun, Janessa Brunet, Paul Cherwick, Erica Eyres, Richard Hines, Lyndsay Ladobruk, jake moore, Kristin Nelson, Steve Nunoda, Elaine Stocki, David Wityk, and Lisa Wood.
The My Winnipeg Project is co-curated by Paula Aisemberg, Sigrid Dahle, Hervé di Rosa, Noam Gonick, Anthony Kiendl, Cathy Mattes, and Cassidy Richardson. It is co-organized by Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, la maison rouge, Musée international des arts modestes (Sète), School of Art Gallery, University of Manitoba, and the National Arts Centre (Ottawa).
Plug In ICA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Manitoba Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Winnipeg Arts Council, Canadian Heritage, the Winnipeg Foundation, our donors, members and volunteers.