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   Kay Burns
Dislocation/Relocation: Stories of Displacement
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2003 [colour, 2 min. 37 sec.]
(Installation Documentation)

Enter. Interior, 1960s outport kitchen... The old furniture and the old wood cook stove belie the progressive technologies of the modern era in this remote location. In these island homes, there is no electricity, and no plumbing, but here there is warmth and a dedication to the laborious lifestyle of those who make their livelihood from the sea. A toy box in the corner speaks of the children who dwell in this place, although not for much longer. Their scattered viewmaster toys show a yearning for and a curiosity about distant places. A window looks out to sea. In the window, image and sound tell fragments of stories about the government resettlement plan and the islanders' apprehension.

A controversial resettlement program was implemented by Premier Joey Smallwood in the 1950s and 60s in Newfoundland whereby the provincial government essentially forced the inhabitants of outport communities on small islands and peninsulas to move to 'centralized' communities. This was to provide an economic solution to the costs of building roads and providing electricity, healthcare and education to the outlying communities, but in-turn it carried with it many other long-term effects of dislocation, unemployment, and emotional upheaval. People of the outport communities built their identities through generations of families who thrived through a particular way of life. Aspects of that identity were lost with the resettlement program and the changes to the fishing industry.

Computer terminal... web page... what is displacement to others. Eight stories told, each with a snapshot... the experience of displacement is diverse. Written stories by others are added into the mix over time and portray the range and complexity of the sense of upheaval and confusion through displacement, the experiences of many tell the tale of what it means to be displaced.

During the research for this project and others, it has become clear that many people feel a sense of displacement whether they moved here from elsewhere or even if they've lived in one location their whole life. Displacement relates to a severed connection to place and the culture of that place, and often to a sense of longing and loss in relation to a place left behind. The exploration of one incident, one fragment in history led to an exploration of the ubiquitous role of displacement in the understanding of identity.

Web site: Snapshots and Stories of Displacement

Production Centre: EMMEDIA, Calgary
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