We are becoming a new province: the future Newfoundland is shaping us as we speak, and much like a teenager, our province is moving towards a new identity every day.
We can see it happening. We’re not known for Ches’s anymore, we’re known for Raymonds; Oil is drying up, pennies are being pinched, so what will fund our future?
We are in a state of flux and evolution, and we are a hardy, historic province whose ethereal and creative spirit is quite capable of riding this out – but what will this new Newfoundland look like? Well, Eastern Edge Gallery launched its 2016 programming with a group exhibition that explores all of this. Curated by Mary MacDonald, Land of Mirrors features work from five critically acclaimed local artists: Michael Flaherty, Will Gill, Philippa Jones, Jerry Ropson, and Jason Wells.
We know our history, but what will our future look like? Land of Mirrors asks the question, “What does Newfoundland dream about now? What cultural imaginaries do artists reflect, what new images and ideas splinter and refract?”
Filtering these kinds of questions through five local artists have yielded some interesting pieces of work that reflect our collective cultural imaginations and each artist’s own personal visions in equal measure.
“For Land of Mirrors, we imagined the gallery space as a sort of experimental playground to work through new ideas and new projects,” says curator Mary MacDonald. “With three of the artists adding to their projects until opening day, their installations and performances really came together! They were able to spend a lot of time in the space with one another installing and talking about their works.”
Mary says this helped create some wonderful formal and contextual relationships within Land of Mirrors. “There is definitely a paranormal vibe throughout the exhibition, and a deep relationship to the land, its material, and personal ritual.”
“Michael Flaherty’s photographs of ceramic shards under water, and Jerry Ropson’s black turnips evoke a similar feeling of loss and an unknown future for our culture’s fragments. Even Jason Wells’ opening night performance played out a narrative of loss, whereby Irma Gerd offered pieces of her face to the audience. Here the queer and Newfoundland body was being parceled off piece by piece for others to hold.”
“In another part of the gallery, Will Gill’s dazzled figure, and Philippa Jones’ investigations of the ‘bubble’ explore the Newfoundland landscape in a way we haven’t seen it before. It is a playful yet complex narrative about belonging and not belonging, here and nowhere. Perhaps this speaks to a general sense of production on an often forgotten island, or simply our more direct relationship to the land that offers new possibilities for contemporary myth-making and a new symbolism?”
Land of Mirrors also features a “Further Fictions Library,” which is a micro-collection of some of the province’s most compelling literary voices, meant to explore the idea of a “Newfoundland imaginary and the glimmering edges of North Atlantic Gothic literature.” The Further Fictions Library includes passages from works by Michael Crummey, Ellen Bryan Obed, Joel Thomas Hynes, Wayne Johnston, Kathleen Winter, and Lisa Moore.