Artist statement for portage
Feb 8 – May 11, 2008
by jake moore
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
2008 marked 32 years since the fabled intersection Portage and Main was closed to pedestrian traffic. Theories of collective memory suggest that once an experience goes beyond 35 years without reinvestment by a community it falls out of interest and the community is unable to remember that it had ever mattered or possibly, that the event had ever happened. With this in mind I wanted to re-animate the stories around the closing of the intersection. My own belief was that is was a dark time in the history of Winnipeg when in a last ditch attempt to keep business in the downtown core, the city council chose to spend public money on private enterprise and send the citizens of winnipeg downstairs into a concourse where they would be captive consumers.
A call was put out to the general public seeking stories of anyone that could remember having crossed the streets. Interviews on radio and television as well as newspaper coverage prompted more than 50 people to call in to a phone line provided by Video Pool with their recollections. From these recordings, a sound piece was assembled for playback within the gallery in the minimally formal installation, PORTAGE.
The french word means “to carry over” and is well know to canoeists and Winnipeggers. The speaker wires of the playback devices connect the vintage apothecary jars both linking them together and creating a barrier to entering the central space between them. The jars serve functional and metaphorical purposes, allowing the small speakers to resonate enough that people within the gallery can hear them, as well as performing as traditional storage devices of things that are both precious and nourishing.
My sincere thanks to all that participated in the story telling, Video Pool and Steve Bates.