Some of the work is hung salon-style in a gallery that’s meant to cross the seedy adult movie theatre with a respectable 19th-century drawing room.
—Alison Gillmor, CBC reviewer
Steamy sexual stories. Hidden libidinous histories. Enigmatic erotic encounters. Could this be our chilly, parka-clad hometown?
Winter Kept Us Warm, the third installment of the My Winnipeg exhibition that wowed Paris last year, opens at Plug In ICA tonight.
Running until January, the show offers some hot stuff for the coldest months of the year. And that's basically the thesis behind Winter Kept Us Warm. Curator Noam Gonick, known as an artist, filmmaker and all-round provocateur, suggests that our long, cold, isolating winters actually force us to heat things up - culturally, socially, physically and sexually. Especially sexually.
There is a lot of nudity and graphic sexual content in this exhibition, which features over 30 artists who work (or have worked) in Winnipeg, including Paul Butler, Cliff Eyland, Bonnie Marin, Diana Thorneycroft and Guy Maddin. Some of the work is hung salon-style in a gallery that's meant to cross the seedy adult movie theatre with a respectable 19th-century drawing room.
Kent Monkman, "Two Kindred Spirits", multimedia installation, 2012 (Cassidy Richardson)
Under the X-rated surfaces are smart, serious ideas about gender, race, identity and history. There's some boundary-breaking feminist art from the 1970, including Boob Tree
, a subversive bit of knitting from Phyllis Green, and some exquisitely fine-lined drawings of body parts by Sharron Zenith Corne. Two Kindred Spirits
by Kent Monkman uses a museum-style diorama to put a new angle on the friendship between the Lone Ranger and Tonto. It's partly a cheeky homoerotic spin on an old story, but it's also a comment on colonialism and the relationship between Europeans and First Nations in North American history.
Jeff Funnell, "Notes from the Inquest Essay and Drawings" Installation, 1988 (Cassidy Richardson)
In a separate room, work from senior Winnipeg artist Jeff Funnell moves from the politics of the body to the body politic. Notes from the Inquest
features sketches and jotted phrases that document the legal inquiry into the police shooting of Cree chief J.J. Harper. It's a highly charged and personal examination of an official public event, and it's fascinating.
There will be signs at Plug In ICA indicating that the exhibition contains sexual and potentially shocking material. Viewers should understand going in that the graphic content is (almost literally) wall-to-wall. These aren't just dirty pictures, though. Porn tends to be predictable, and these works are almost all funny, fearless and fabulously unexpected. Winter Kept Us Warm runs at Plug In ICA runs December 15-January 20.