PLATFORM centre for photographic + digital arts is pleased to present the third exhibition in our thematic programming year, where we are exploring artists use of collections and archiving with an idea toward the palimpsest or re-writable text as a way to discuss photography. Pioneer Ladies [of the Evening] is curated by Dr. Laurie K. Bertram for PLATFORM and will use archival mugshots and additional museum objects to reconsider the lives of sex trade workers in Winnipeg more than one hundred years ago.
Drawing from the Winnipeg Police Museum Archive, this project uses turn-of-the-century mug shots of Winnipeg women arrested for a variety of offenses to investigate linkages between commemoration and incarceration. In response to the unveiling of the “Famous Five” statue on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature in 2009 amid ongoing attempts to secure attention for missing sex trade workers in the West, this project asks: “what challenges does the sex trade pose to Canada’s commemorative landscape?” “How can carceral images be redeployed in the construction of radical gender histories?”
The exhibit will feature original mug shots of Western Canadian women alongside panels of text that imagine an alternate commemorative landscape dedicated to their lives. Panels will feature archival research on each woman, including the details surrounding her arrest, but will resituate this information in a new commemorative landscape for the Canadian West, where honours are still usually reserved for often White male officials, planners, soldiers and judges.
By transforming these shots of captivity into portraits of “pioneer ladies,” this exhibit tests the sexualized and gendered boundaries of Canadian commemoration while imagining new histories that acknowledge the remarkable pasts of marginalized and incarcerated women.
— Dr. Bertram, curatorial synopsis
Shadow archives and ladies of the evening: Commemoration, incarceration and self-fashioning in Winnipeg mugshots, 1878-1916
Friday 04 May 12PM @ Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art [611 Main Street]
Histories and Futures of the Sex Trade in Western Canada
Thursday 17 May 7:30PM @ PLATFORM