ABOVE: A still from Guy Maddin's 1988 film Tales From The Gimli Hospital
Trauerspiel: The Gothic Unconscious 12-30 January 2004
The opening event for Trauerspiel happened on Thursday, 15 January from 3 to 5 PM. The public was invited and refreshments were served.
Gallery One One One hours: weekdays from noon to 4 PM.
Trauerspiel was the second exhibition in a multi-component project, The Gothic Unconscious, curated by Sigrid Dahle, Gallery One One One's curator-in-residence until April 2004. Trauerspiel included three films by Winnipeg-based auteur Guy Maddin (The Dead Father, 1985, Tales From The Gimli Hospital, 1988, and Archangel, 1990); photographs by L.B. Foote (1873-1957) that depict early twentieth-century life (and death) in Winnipeg; and photographs from the Hamilton collection (University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections) documenting seances conducted by Winnipeg physician Dr. Thomas Glendenning Hamilton (1883-1935) and his associates between 1918 and 1939. Components from the series' first exhibition, Blind Spot, such as a photograph by Bernie Miller of the exterior of an abject Pembina Highway shopping mall, made a return appearance. Trauerspiel or "mourning play" refers to a German literary genre and to ideas explored by the German critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940).
The Gothic Unconscious exhibition series, which includes work by over 50 artists spanning 500 years of image-making, (wildly) speculates that Winnipeg is a city haunted by the ghosts of its traumatic social history. This history includes (but certainly is not limited to) the genocide of First Nations peoples, the dispossession of the Métis, the hardships endured by Icelandic immigrants founding a new republic at Gimli, the arrivals of Russian Mennonites fleeing persecution and Jewish holocaust survivors in search of a safe haven, the exploitation of impoverished European immigrants (culminating in the spectacular 1919 Winnipeg General Strike) and the monumental struggles of women to attain full citizenship.
The Gothic Unconscious proposes that this aura of tragedy and impoverishment manifests itself in the abject, uncanny and surreal quality of much contemporary Winnipeg art, even when this work doesnt explicitly address the citys troubled histories. While Winnipegs civic leaders are beginning to recognize that artists are key to the citys economic well being, The Gothic Unconscious serves as a reminder that art has other equally important contributions to make. Contemporary art offers us a unique and potent means to process collective (historic) trauma. It weaves the present into the past and the future even as it invites us to consider our subjective experiences within the context of larger historical forces.
ABOVE: A still from Guy Maddin's 1990 film Archangel.
Special thanks: L.B. Foote, T.G. Hamilton, Guy Maddin, Bernie Miller, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Manitoba Arts Council, the Winnipeg Film Group, the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Manitoba, the Archives of Manitoba, Susan Chafe, Richard Dyck, Harlene Weijs, student volunteers and Walter Benjamin.
Click here to download the Trauerspiel poster (PDF)
A CD-ROM publication documents the The Gothic Unconscious investigation and includes material about other Gallery One One One shows. Gallery One One One, School of Art, Main Floor, FitzGerald Building, University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus, Winnipeg, MB, CANADA R3T 2N2 TEL:204 474-9322 FAX:474-7605. For information please contact Robert Epp firstname.lastname@example.org