ON TRIAL The Long Doorway

Apr 11, 2019

Screening, Talk


Grand Luxe Hall, Western Front


7:00 p.m.


While in residence at Western Front, Deanna Bowen screened the single-cut version of her video work ON TRIAL The Long Doorway (2017–19). Bowen’s work builds on The Long Doorway (1956), a lost teleplay by Canadian playwright Stanley Mann for CBC Television that tells the story of a Black legal aid lawyer tasked with representing a white University of Toronto student who is charged with violently assaulting a rising Black basketball player. While no recordings of the original production exist, Bowen used the archived script and set design notes to recreate the play. Combining historical research with strategies of reenactment, dramaturgy, and performance, ON TRIAL The Long Doorway continues Bowen’s interest in activating overlooked and forgotten histories of race relations in Canada, while exploring her own family history—Bowen’s great-uncle Herman Risby performed the role of the complainant in the original teleplay.

The screening was followed by a discussion moderated by Western Front media arts curator Allison Collins in which Bowen discussed her practice of uncovering repressed histories of Black Canadians through archival intervention, her process of collaborating with actors Kato Alexander, Tarick Glancy, Ahlam Hassan, Mamito Kukwikila, and Abigail Whitney, and the familial connection points in her research.

ON TRIAL The Long Doorway was made available to view during gallery hours in the Luxe vestibule concurrent to Bowen’s solo exhibition A Harlem Nocturne at the Contemporary Art Gallery. 

ON TRIAL The Long Doorway was commissioned and produced through a partnership between the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver and Mercer Union, Toronto. Created with the financial support of Partners in Art and the Ontario Arts Council.

Video documentation of this event is available upon request.

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Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.