Looking In, Looking Out?

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Video Projection – Looking In, Looking Out?

I used the theme of borders and boundaries and focused this theme on the North Central neighborhood in Regina. I wanted to artistically respond to and explore the sociological circumstance of the area and I began with a definition of the geographical boundaries of what is called “North Central”, an area defined by two railroad tracks and two major thoroughfares – the Lewvan Expressway and Albert St.

The boundaries that I wanted to investigate, however, were not only physical, but existed on multiple levels and I set out to explore the sociological, cultural and spiritual spaces that divide us. The obvious division created by journalist, Jonathan Gatehouse of “MacLean's Magazine” (Jan. 15, 2007, Vol. 120, Issue 1) was a scathing article that investigated the social and economic circumstance of North Central and concluded and it was “Canada's Worst Neighborhood”. I mention this because this article often came up in conversations with residents who were struggling with the negative connotation and their own collective identity – that of the “outsider”, while others are looking in. My role as journalist is counterpoint to Jonathan Gatehouse.

The second part of my work is within the framework of cultural and social activism, drawing from artists such as James Luna and Neal McLeod/Gabriel Yahyahkeekoot in their collaborative exhibition titled “That's my Wonderful Town”. These artists often perform or create their art away from the institutions of art, the gallery space, to create a broader spectrum of cultural resonance of their “outsider” positions and to respond by speaking out – to redefine identity.

This work is a video projection – it is an extension, or “projection” which offers ways of joining a space, an image and a subject: the North Central neighborhood, the images of the neighborhood (streetscapes, people) and commentary outside the neighborhood, within the borders and boundaries framework.

In this work my medium was to facilitate dialogue both within and without the neighborhood, (looking in, looking out?) and I set out with my video camera and travelled around the streets of North Central to capture not only the visual images that describe the physical landscape, but also to work within the role of negotiator. I was able to perceive a wide range of opinions and experiences as a counterpoint to the “MacLean's” article, and other ways that North Central is defined and identified.

The final plan was to feature the video at the Scott North Central Community Center at 7:00 on November 15. This public event presented as a projection of the video on a wall using a generator. The projection attracted the interest and commentary of people in the neighborhood, as well, as curious traffic. By placing my efforts in a public space, my hope was to amplify the voices of a community outwards, and to project another reality.

I discovered that while North Central has its challenges, it also has great potential. It has an interesting and varied history. I discovered many community-based groups, and artists who were involved in creating socially positive influences. Rather than a homogenous group, I found a multi-cultural community. A neighborhood is often described by outsiders who are looking in. This projection, is looking in and looking out of the boundaries of North Central, and offers a glimpse of both perspectives.