RAW Gallery of Architecture & Design presents: Y_WG: The Quiet Influence

. Thursday, January 31, 2013

RAW Gallery of Architecture & Design presents Y_WG: The Quiet Influence. Curated by Craig Alun Smith, the exhibition (and forthcoming book) features an important collection of contemporary design by both emerging and established designers from the city of Winnipeg.

Excerpts from the curatorial essay:

Why Winnipeg? What is it about this place that fosters such a strong cultural community to flourish? How can a small Canadian city of only 700,000 inhabitants produce the likes of Neil Young, Marshall McLuhan, Gabrielle Roy, Lenny Breau, Guy Maddin, The Guess Who, Weakerthans, Carol Shields and Tyler Brûlé. The typical, “mytho-poetic” answer is that it has something to do with isolation and separation, a city on the vast open prairie landscape, alone at the centre of a cold continent. The myth tells of the remoteness and long harsh winters forcing the city’s inhabitants to band together for warmth and safety and somehow in this communal attachment, a great collective cultural conciseness is born. But that’s the myth, the one we tell because we don’t really know the truth. Could it be that the truth has just as much to do with broader interconnectivity? Winnipeg has always been a transportation hub, the gateway to the west. It has never truly been isolated. It is a city with a transient population; people come and go, we work and live in other cities but still call Winnipeg home, always maintaining a connection. Do these invisible connections allow the city to spread a tentacle like network out into the world connecting the city's cultural innovators to ex-pats and counterparts in major world centres? If it were simply a case of isolation creating great artists then Davis Inlet, Prince Rupert or Flin Flon would be the cultural capital of Canada.
Each generation of Winnipeg’s designers is forced to create its own path, to navigate on its own, to invent and reinvent itself over and over in order to move forward. We continually innovate, we continually create our own design language anew because with so few reference points to benchmark ourselves against we can not tell if we are failing or succeeding, Failure becomes irrelevant. We are always creating something new, our design vernacular continually shifts and we invent new languages based on our environment and understanding of place in the world. Winnipeg will always be on the periphery of the design world but this may be the advantage. Designers from established design centres such as Germany, Italy or Holland may have rich creative and cultural history on which to draw but this richness also forces them to design to specific languages in order to comply. German design and its functional, minimalist, Bauhaus-inspired aesthetic, Italian design, a balance between classical elegance and modern creativity, and Dutch design with its experimental, innovative, quirky, and humorous vocabulary – these are all national design identities but they are also limiting to some extent by the pressure to adhere to a specific design language. Canadian Designers and more specifically Winnipeg designers, have no such confinements. We can take inspiration from the outside world. We can take our inspiration from anywhere, and we do, because we have to, we have few reference points on the prairies. 

RAW Gallery of Architecture & Design is located at 290 McDermott Avenue.  The exhibition runs until February 16th.

Curated designers:
Roan Barrion
Ilana Ben-Ari
Michael Erdmann
Thomas Fougere 
Matthew Kroeker
Craig Alun Smith
Nils Vik

Competition winners:
Eduardo Aquino
Matt Barnlund
Ben Borley
Daniel Ellingsen
Stephen Grimmer
Evan Marnoch
Crystal Nykoluk
Zach Pauls
Claudine Perrott
Sean Radford
Renee Struthers

Many thanks to Jacqueline Young for these photos.


WK said...

Very Interesting Exhibition.
Thank you Raw Gallery and all the talented artists.

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