Plug In ICA co-presents My Winnipeg at MIAM (Musée International des Arts Modestes), Sète, France

November 5, 2011 to April 22, 2012

Curators: Paula Aisemberg, Sigrid Dahle, Hervé di Rosa, Noam Gonick, Anthony Kiendl

Co-organized by Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, la maison rouge, MIAM, Gallery One One One at the School of Art, University of Manitoba and the National Arts Centre (Ottawa)

Opening reception: Friday, November 4 at 6:30 pm.

My Winnipeg is an exhibition project featuring over 70 artists from (or with a connection to) Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Spanning decades and genres, including archival material, this contemporary art exhibition explores Winnipeg as a mytho-poetic territory of reverie, catastrophe, carnal desire, and (sub)conscious inspiration. In form and materials these works are variously dream-like, narrative-based, representational, and vernacular. Through this lens, the exhibition depicts a landscape that appears alternately somnambulant, panic-ridden, disquieting and homely. Nevertheless, these captivating works inspire fascination, obsession and desire. One may begin to understand a city that is breathtakingly beautiful, and grounded in a revolutionary past. My Winnipeg, taking its name from Guy Maddin’s award-winning film, forms subjective impressions of this mid-sized prairie capitol – versions of Winnipeg that mingle truth with fiction, history and speculation. Some of Winnipeg’s best-known artists—for example, Maddin, Marcel Dzama, and Diana Thorneycroft— have rarely exhibited together before, but arguably share these sensibilities. One may trace their practices to artistic predecessors – Winnipeg’s 20th century practitioners of “prairie surrealism.”

As a psycho-geographic territory including the birthplace of the Métis nation and the province’s forefather Louis Riel, the 1919 General Strike, the childhood home of Neil Young and of Marshall McLuhan, and the original headquarters for Harlequin Romance novels – “Winnipeg” nevertheless resists idealization as it is by equal turns the coldest big city on the planet and plagued by floods, fires, racism and child poverty. Winnipeg is also the birthplace of the Professional Native Artist’s Inc., a radical collective of Aboriginal artists that led to Aboriginal self-determination in the arts, and the visionary Woodlands School of painting.

There are several chapters to the exhibition, each of which builds upon varying subjective interpretations.

There’s No Place Like Home

In a chapter of the exhibition curated by Sigrid Dahle, one sees that Winnipeg is a city that invites interpretation, calling up compelling images and tall tales that startle, confront, amuse and excite the imagination. But for those of us who have lived here, who will live here and who are living here, Winnipeg is, first and foremost, “home” – with all the profoundly conflicting associations this over-determined word conjures. Comprised of found archival images, ephemera, postcards, works by contemporary and historically significant Winnipeg-based artists, as well as an incomplete glossary of Winnipeg terms, there’s no place like home explores the processes by which “place” transforms into “home” – a feat that requires material, intellectual, psychological, imaginative, social and political interventions of the most complex and challenging kind.

Winter Kept Us Warm

The erotic chapter, Winter Kept Us Warm, curated by Noam Gonick, takes its name from David Secter’s 1965 film, Canada’s first entry into the Cannes Film Festival, which in turn took its name from T.S. Eliot’s “Wasteland.” On its surface, Winnipeg may strike visitors as flat, dangerous, grey and unremittingly cold. But tempering this surface are artists, a vital force in the city because they remind us to look beyond our shivering individual experience, relate to others, and enjoy the fruits of shared encounters.

My Winnipeg exhibition artists: Ed Ackerman, KC Adams, Sharon Alward, C. Graham Asmundson, Louis Bakó, Daniel Barrow, H. Eric Bergman, Jackson Beardy, Eleanor Bond, Border Crossings Study Centre, Shary Boyle, AA Bronson, Paul Butler, Shawna Dempsey & Lorri Millan, Dan Donaldson, Michael Dumontier, Aganetha Dyck, Marcel Dzama, William Eakin, Cliff Eyland, Ivan Eyre, Erica Eyres, Neil Farber, Rosalie Favell, Christine Fellows, Lionel Lemoine Fitzgerald, Karel Funk, Jeff Funnell, Tim Gardener, General Idea, Larry Glawson, Noam Gonick, Gilles Hébert, Robert Houle, Simon Hughes, Imagetaker, Alex Janvier, Sarah Anne Johnson, Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline, Wanda Koop, Jake Kosciuk, Rob Kovitz, Guy Maddin, Kavavow Mannomee, Bonnie Marin, Doug Melnyk, Bernie Miller, Kent Monkman, Shaun Morin / The Slomotion, Darryl Nepinak, Daphne Odjig, Robert Pasternak, Linda Pearce, Hope Peterson, Alex Poruchnyk & Vern Hume, Don Proch, Jon Pylypchuk, Carl Ray, Paul Robles, Mélanie Rocan, Royal Art Lodge, Colleen Simard, Craig Alun Smith, Kevin B. C. Stafford, Lionel Stephenson, Diana Thorneycroft, Andrew Valko, Jordan Van Sewell, Andrew Wall, Esther Warkov, Gord Wilding, Adrian Williams, Richard Williams, Sharron Zenith Corne.


The exhibition My Winnipeg is accompanied by a full-colour, bilingual publication featuring over 70 artists, illustrating over 200 works of art. It features writing by Sigrid Dahle, Robert Enright, Noam Gonick, Anthony Kiendl, Cathy Mattes and  Meeka Walsh. The catalogue is published as a travel guide, and also features maps, listings, and significant recommendations and addresses for visiting Winnipeg. Full colour, 248 pages.

My Winnipeg is co-published by Fage, la maison rouge, MIAM and Plug In Editions. It will be available in Canada through Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art/Plug In Editions by November 16.

Plug In ICA acknowledges the generous financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts Council, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg, Fort Garry Hotel, le Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba, and the National Arts Centre.

A version of the exhibition will return to Plug In as part of our 40thAnniversary celebrations in 2012. Appearing as four consecutive chapters, this revised and expanded version of the exhibition is scheduled to commence on September 8, 2012, with an opening reception on September 14 at Plug In ICA.