Amalie Atkins
Embrace, 2011
Video installation and Performance

This past December, a very special, subtle and intimate performance/film work was presented in Saskatoon. Amalie Atkins’ Embrace was a site specific video installation on 20th Street in the core neighbourhood of westside Saskatoon. Atkins is a Saskatchewan based filmmaker and photography based artist who works with very gentle portrayals of a kind of prairie magic realism soaked in fairytale and handcrafted elegance. Embrace is a short film loop of a pair of Canadian-Austrian twin sisters in the 70′s who partake in a simple yet symbolic ritual of sisterly devotion. At a certain point during the piece, Atkins and her own sister (Tanjalee Kuhl) performed an analogous ritual on the street near the window projection, providing a companion piece to the cinematic event. The twinning of real world action and cinematic action is intensified by the age of the participants (one generation passing a gesture to another) as well as the vividness of their costumes and the purposeful intensity of their motions.

The window projection at 210 20th Street West is a gesture for the community, as 20th street gentrifies and the impact of the arts is inevitably felt more and more in that particular neighbourhood. The parking lot across the street, where film goers were plied with hot chocolate and encouraged to make the space into a provisonal drive in, was also the site of the infamous Barry hotel. The Barry was a dive bar and down on its luck hotel with a population at the margins of society. 20th street’s reputation as seedy strip jutting off of downtown Saskatoon is slowly giving way to numerous arts organizations including the headquarters of the Saskatoon Symphony, La Troupe du Jour, AKA Gallery and PAVED Arts (the commissioning organization for this particular work). Perhaps Atkins work alludes to this changing history or perhaps not, the subtle spectacle that she creates is one of a kind of homestead like familiarity with kin, a world of gentle but meaningful gestures and flare of aesthetic intensity that sits perfectly at the intersection of film, art, design and community.
– Ian Campbell, Cineflyer Sask

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