Installation View, Gallery 1C03, University of Winnipeg, 2014
Gallery 1C03, University of Winnipeg (2014)

Curated by Jennifer Gibson

In a work made especially for the exhibition, (which also includes works from Water and Tower Allegory) historical maps and written records that refer to the flooding of the Red River combine to produce a permeable structure that evokes a layered history of people and water in the Southern Manitoba region. Water Memory Table emerges from the artist's investigations into the historical record of the flooding of the Red River in Southern Manitoba, and an impulse to manifest a poetic object that speaks simultaneously of the human need to 'structure' our engagements with natural forces, and about the precariousness of human-nature interrelations in general. Mahon's research included studying maps and documents in the Hudson Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba that reference the aboriginal history with the river and include reports on flooding in the area at numerous points. Noting that floods were recorded as early as 1825-26, and more familiarly in 1950, 1979, 1994, and in 2010, the artist developed a layered 'imaginary' of the river as a dramatically changeable body. Ultimately selecting a simple map that was originally featured in the Free Press in 1950, (and is today readily sourced on the Internet) and a hand-written document, "Fort Garry Journal 1825 & '26" May 5, 1826, Mahon developed a set of printed 'notes' that he used to embellish the thin wooden strip that structure the grid-based 'tabletop.'

Remarkably, the artist documented some of the images and texts presented using an underwater camera. As such that the Water Memory Table suggests itself as both an object that 'floats' between the past and the present while acting as a tangible index of the human and the natural in conflict and conversation.


Patrick Mahon
by Margaret Bessai

Photography: Ernest Meyer