Gwen MacGregor

Fold it up and put it away

video installation

single-channel video, 50 minutes; exhibited at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG), 1998

This installation grew out of a SAAG residency in 1995. It centres around the town of Fernie, where my mother grew up, and involves a broken promise between the Tobacco Plains Band and William Fernie, the founder of the town. As a result of a curse placed upon the town, so the story goes, it endured a legacy of fire, flood, and famine. In 1964, when my grandfather James White was mayor, a curse-lifting ceremony took place that apparently went wrong, and the curse was inadvertently transferred to White, who died six weeks later.

The ceremony, recorded on Super-8 film by my grandmother, forms the focal point of the installation. Accompanying the film are layers of voices and stories about the town that have evolved through its history, including that of Dan Gravelle, the Chief of the Tobacco Plains Band in 1998.