Revolutionaries and Ghosts: Memory, Witness and Justice in a Global Canadian Context
Works from the Collections of the MacKenzie Art Gallery and University of Regina |
May 26 to September 29, 2018 Wakeling Gallery

“They would live on, as dangerous as revolutionaries but as intangible as ghosts.”

In her award winning novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Canadian author Madeleine Thien uses the figure of a book within a book to gently assert the power of stories to preserve memories even as changing political tides threaten to sweep them away. By hiding the true names of lost loved ones amid the fictional Book of Records, her protagonists keep alive the dream of art, beauty, and freedom amidst China’s repressive political regimes. Thien’s novel demonstrates the important role that Canadian authors have played in recent years in attesting to violence on the world stage while exploring its impacts at home. The presence created by the names of lost loved ones are, in the words of one of her characters, “as dangerous as revolutionaries but as intangible as ghosts.” Similarly, the twelve Canadian artists in this exhibition – Ed Burtynsky, Ruth Cuthand, Wally Dion, Sherry Farrell-Racette, Huang Zhong-Yang, Marie Lannoo, Grant McConnell, Gerald McMaster, Ann Newdigate, Ed Pien, William J. Rodgers, and Jeff Wall – embed memories that connect the present to the past, and trouble the narratives of erasure and injustice which have marked the histories that tie Canada to the wider world.

From May 26 to June 1, Regina welcomes scholars from across Canada and abroad to Congress 2018 at the University of Regina. The theme of this multi-disciplinary conference is “Gathering Diversities,” a topic which honours the history of the area as a traditional place of gathering, evoked in Regina’s original name, Wascana, or oskana kâ-asastêki – where the bones are gathered. Diversity in local and global contexts requires a willingness to share histories, acknowledge inequities, and work toward justice and reconciliation. The works in this exhibition grow out of this desire and address a broad range of topics, from the Cultural Revolution to the Holocaust, from 9/11 to the mistreatment of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Together, the works point to the important role of Canadian artists in asking hard questions of ourselves, our histories, and the global power structures in which we are all enmeshed.