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Meet in the Middle
Meet in the Middle: Stations of Migration and Memory Between Art and Film
A proposal 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)
Meet in the Middle is a durational series of events taking place in Regina, Saskatchewan, from Spring 2014 to Spring 2016. Conceived as a succession of stations connected by common concerns underlying global migration and unfolding over this twenty-four month period, the project enables artists, audiences, and researchers to encounter and reflect on the experiences and memories of diverse flows of people recalled and documented through the practices of expanded cinema.
Inspired by a recent influx of national and international immigrants, Meet in the Middle occurs in Regina, a place inhabiting both the margins and centre of Canadian consciousness. Located 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 (e.g., the first Arts Board in North America and the first art gallery in a public library). 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 the Mispon Film Festival.
In Regina, art and film are powerful mediums through which to explore the notion of belonging, particularly as 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 analog and digital divide, the gallery and public spaces 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.”
Several stations and sub-stations are conceived for this journey—including a terminal for research, archival curating, artistic residencies and production, and audience exploration; exhibitions; and a symposium—in which a city on the margins is transformed into a gathering place.
Station 1 | MITM Contact Room
Meet in the Middle conceives galleries as junctions, and sites of research, development, and the dissemination of art and film’s material, cultural, and social production.
The MITM Contact Room will be set in an existing cultural centre with a satellite space in Regina’s downtown, providing a web-based as well as visible public space for artists, filmmakers, curators, students, professors, and audiences—people with various perspectives on migration and memory. The contact room will provide a space in which one can experiment with the fresh aesthetic possibilities emerging between art and film, new forms of curatorial display, and alternative archival approaches to connecting local and international moving image histories and practices.
Projects will be drawn from a repository of archives (the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, National Film Board, Dunlop Art Gallery, Neutral Ground Contemporary Art Forum and Saskatchewan Archives) housing materials on experimental filmmaking, moving image history, early projections by Krzysztof Wodiczko created for city spaces in Regina, as well as landmark new media projects.
The Contact Room will also build knowledge platforms through site-specific art/film residencies and projects led by artist-researchers (such as intermedia artist Rachelle Knowles [Regina]; conceptual artist Mktrich Tonoyan [Armenia]; and multi-media artist Adrian Stimson [Saskatoon], among others) to engage participants through their various migrant and Indigenous experiences.
Station 2 | Exhibitions
Alongside the activities of the MITM Contact Room, a series of interconnected exhibitions will be curated, profiling local, national, and international artists who are adept at mixing historical and contemporary, local and global perspectives on issues related to memory and migration. In addition to internationally renowned artists Shirin Neshat and Atom Egoyan, this station will profile such artists as Knowles, Tonoyan, and experimental filmmaker Gerald Saul, among others.
Shirin Neshat: Soliloquy
MacKenzie Art Gallery, December 14, 2013–March 30, 2014
Organized and circulated by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal as part of their Momentum series, Soliloquy (1999) is a key piece in the oeuvre of Shirin Neshat. It is a double-screen color video projection depicting memories of exile for a woman caught between two landscapes: a Middle Eastern desert city and a western metropolis.
Atom Egoyan and the Place of the Witness
MacKenzie Art Gallery, September–December 2015
The first retrospective of renowned Armenian-Canadian filmmaker and installation artist Atom Egoyan, this exhibition is scheduled to coincide with the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, one of Egoyan’s longstanding concerns in relation to diasporic identities. It will include eight works of art, screenings, artist-curator interviews, a multi-authored critical catalogue, and projected national and international tours.
Station 3 | Symposium
Meet in the Middle: Dialogues on filmic transformation in contemporary art is a three day symposium in September 2015, providing a space for collective reflection on the transformations occurring in art galleries as they envision new places and spaces for configuring moving images. Scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Egoyan exhibition and keynote address, artists, filmmakers, curators, theorists, storytellers, educators, and the audience will be invited to have conversations on theories and practices that are currently bringing art and film together to powerful effect, where global experiences of displacement, as well as new hopes of placement and belonging meet.
About the Curator
Elizabeth Matheson, President of Strandline Curatorial Collective, has fifteen years of experience as an independent curator, lecturer, and writer in the field of contemporary art/film/media. She has worked on notable lens-based projects with internationally recognized artists and filmmakers Rebecca Belmore (Canada), Janet Cardiff (Canada), Joan Foncuberta (Spain), Jo Spence (U.K.), Lourdes Portillo (U.S./Mexico), and Rosângela Rennó (Brazil); and on a series of curatorial projects investigating filmic architecture and cinematic events in urban renewal. Currently she is a collaborator on Atom Egoyan in Media Res, the first retrospective exhibition on the film installation work of Atom Egoyan, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). She has worked with artist-run centers, galleries, and cultural organizations in Canada, and organized conferences in a number of institutions. Matheson lectures widely, most recently at Cambridge University’s Moving Image and Institution: Cinema and the Museum in the 21st Century. Matheson also has developed pioneering approaches to collaborative and cross-disciplinary work including the co-founding of the Strandline Curatorial Collective. She serves as an advisor to Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art (Toronto) and the Prince Claus Fund (Amsterdam), and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and the International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art (IKT). She has been published internationally, and her works have been translated into several languages, including the following publications: Un Portrait de Deux: L’Oeuvre d’Esther Shalev-Gerz (2012); Traces et disparitions dans l’oeuvre d’Oscar Muñoz (2009); Monografía: Rosângela Rennó (2009); A Última Foto (2008); and iyiniwak anohc (1996). Matheson has been awarded grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and is a recipient of the Management of the Arts Certificate from the Banff Centre.
Dr. Christine Ramsay is Associate Professor in Film Studies (University of Regina). She holds a PhD in Social and Political Thought (York University). Her research is in the areas of Canadian / Saskatchewan cinemas, masculinities in film and popular culture, film installation art, the culture of small cities, and philosophies of identity. She published Making It Like A Man: Canadian Masculinities in Practice (Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2011) and is co-editing Mind the Gap: Saskatchewan Cultural Spaces (Regina UP, forthcoming 2014). In 2012, she was Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Program in Canadian Studies (University of Edinburgh), where she worked on her current monograph on David Cronenberg. She has been invited to present this research at The Cronenberg Project, a multi-platform career retrospective and exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox in fall 2014. She serves on the editorial boards of Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies and Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies; and on the boards of Regina’s Dunlop Art Gallery and Creative City Centre. She is a past President of the Film Studies Association of Canada, and past Chair of the Regina Arts Commission. She has curated and programmed several exhibitions and film series over the past ten years, including: QC15 (5th Parallel Gallery, URegina, 2010); Cronenberg’s Doubles (exhibition at MacKenzie Art Gallery, 2010); Screening the Queen (film series on Regina for Realizing the Creative City, 2004); and Making It Like a Star: Canadian Actors, Directors, Masculinities (film series for Making It Like A Man! exhibition-conference, MacKenzie/URegina, 2004).