Shadow on the Prairie is an interdisciplinary installation derives its name and overarching narrative from the National Film Board of Canada’s 1952 film adaptation of Gweneth Lloyd’s seminal ballet “Shadow on the Prairie: A Canadian Ballet.”
Performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company in 1952, the dance tells the story of Canada’s western settlement by means of a tragic tale of a once hopeful woman’s desperate struggle with the harsh landscape. Isolated by a long bleak winter, the young bride’s dreams of a new life with her pioneer husband fade away as she descends into a madness that leads to death.
Finding affinities between Lloyd’s portrayal of the challenges of pioneer life and my own family narrative, the semi-autobiographical work explores a family rumour about my great uncle, a closeted gay actor & nightclub singer who played in all-black revues of Vancouver’s supper club circuit in the 1930’s through 50’s.
Director, Producer, Picture Editing, Animation: Deanna Bowen
16 mm Cinematography: Christina Battle
Sound Design: Rick Hyslop
Exhibition support from the Ontario Arts Council and A Space Gallery.
Shadow on the Prairie. 2009, 7:20 mins, Colour, DVD, Single Channel Video projection
Installation View: Shadow on the Prairie. 2009, 7:20 mins, Colour, DVD, Looping single channel video projection and 15’ x 20’ vinyl floor text.