Cameras wield new magic and mystery for Canadian newcomers

Exhibit showcases photography from new Canadians’ first experience at Folk Fest

An image from this past summer’s Winnipeg Folk Festival. Alejandra Gomez

Everyone who has ever been to the Winnipeg Folk Festival has had to listen to self-proclaimed Fest veterans tell their nostalgically self-indulgent tales recounting their first time at the festival.

These stories, though entertaining, and often incriminating, generally don’t offer any new perspectives about the festival. But the Graffiti Gallery, in conjunction with Folk Festival’s Guest for a Day Program, is offering some entirely new first impressions of the event.

Graffiti Gallery Photography: The Winnipeg Folk Festival 2010, now on display at the Folk Exchange, captures the experience of five new Canadians at this year’s Folk Fest with photographs of their first time at the festival.

These new Canadians are affiliates of Graffiti Art Programming, a non-profit organization that aims to give young artists a chance to develop their skills.
“It’s an experience to get out of the city and photograph a cultural event as well as a good excuse to expose participants to something they wouldn’t ordinarily get to see,” Chantal DeGagne, the photography instructor for the participants from Graffiti Gallery, said of the program.

DeGagne taught the photographers how to take photographs and develop their own pictures. Each participant was extremely passionate about photography and “very strongly self-directed by (their own) strengths and interests,” DeGagne said.

(We want) to expand the definition of folk music and expand who is listening to folk music.

Jennifer Davis, education and outreach co-ordinator, Winnipeg Folk Festival

Many of the photographs in the exhibit feature candid shots of the crowds, as the new Canadians were sometimes more interested in the audience than who was onstage because they had never been to an event quite like Folk Fest before, she added.

The Guest for a Day program includes a wide range of participants from low-income families to the elderly, different cultural groups, and organizations like the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Rainbow Resource Centre, the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities and Jewish Child and Family Services.
The program gave one of this year’s participants, originally from South America, the opportunity to shoot her first roll of film ever.

“The Guest for a Day Program is a program where we invite people from organizations or communities who might not get a chance to go (to Folk Fest) otherwise and provide them with free tickets, transportation and meals,” said Jennifer Davis, education and outreach co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

“(We want) to expand the definition of folk music and expand who is listening to folk music,” which can only make for a more well-rounded and interesting experience at Folk Fest, she said.

Graffiti Gallery Photography: The Winnipeg Folk Festival 2010 is on display in the Folk Exchange at 211 Bannatyne Ave. until Thursday, Oct. 21.

Published in Volume 65, Number 5 of The Uniter (September 30, 2010)

Related Reads