Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/9/2010 (2373 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
When playful performance artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan abandoned their native Toronto for Winnipeg 22 years ago, they soon noticed a few things.
This city has always embraced the paranormal and the spooky. Most of us enjoy having our futures foretold by teacup readers and psychics. And we're a great bunch of storytellers who need little encouragement to spin personal tales, whether they're about flood survival or Burton Cummings sightings.
So when the duo was asked to gather citizens' narratives for City Stories, a project under this year's Cultural Capital program, they imagined a tarot deck in which every card depicts something iconic about the 'Peg.
Artist Bonnie Marin illustrated the 78 quirky cards, in which the four traditional tarot suits of Wands, Pentacles, Cups and Swords are replaced by Lightning, Drought, Floods and Blizzards, respectively.
"We've kept all the traditional tarot meanings intact... but every image and metaphor has been re-envisioned to reflect Winnipeg," says the mysterious Madame Dempsey, who's got a velvet turban, a snake-adorned cape and a carnival-worthy tent to help her gaze into the mystical beyond.
Louis Riel, the Golden Boy, the Car Thief, the Floodway, the Social, Garbage Hill and Confusion Corner each get a card, as do Eaton's (well, its rubble), K-tel, Clifford's, Rae & Jerry's, the General Strike, Folklorama, and just about every other local touchstone you can name.
After a reporter posed a question to Madame Dempsey about the cost of her impending kitchen renovation, her reading turned up the Fall Supper card -- replete with jellied salads -- and the Mint card. (Coincidence? We think not.)
Starting Friday, as part of this weekend's free, inaugural Culture Days arts extravaganza, the "Winnipeg Tarot Company" will be setting up all over town, from malls to seniors' homes, restaurants and tourist spots.
A team of about nine soothsaying artists from various disciplines will join Millan and Dempsey in giving mystical readings. They include playwright Ian "Zoltan" Ross, bandleader Rodrigo "El Magnifico" Munoz, visual artist Sandee Moore and actor Ross McMillan. Through Oct. 31, they'll be interpreting the cards five hours a day, six days a week.
The "seers" don't take cash or credit. "We only accept payment in stories," says Dempsey. You must tell your soothsayer a story or memory about Winnipeg -- ideally about two minutes long. It will be audio-recorded and the best story each day will be posted on the website www.winnipegtarotco.ca as an audio file.
The site will also be equipped with a computerized tarot reader and you can type in your Winnipeg story.
Ultimately, all the stories will be permanently archived. "We're really amassing a time capsule of oral history," Dempsey says.
The tarot decks, complete with a witty interpretation booklet by Dempsey and Millan, are also for sale for $25 at the reading sites or through the Winnipeg Arts Council.
The other events on Friday through Sunday for Culture Days -- and Saturday night from dusk to dawn for Nuit Blanche -- are far too numerous to list. There are music, film, literary, broadcasting, visual art, dance, theatre, craft and architecture events and there are French-language and aboriginal events.
Virtually every cultural institution has free programming, including the Manitoba Museum, St. Boniface Museum, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Prairie Theatre Exchange, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Cercle Molière, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers, Theatre Projects Manitoba, West End Cultural Centre and Winnipeg Film Group.
The Culture Days kickoff is under the canopy at The Forks at 7 p.m. Friday. A pullout guide was published in the Free Press last Saturday, or visit www.culturedays.ca for details.