Groupe Épopée filmed Sheri Pranteau talking about her incarceration after she received a life sentence for manslaughter and armed robbery. Pranteau, a Cree and Anishinaabe woman from Manitoba, was tried in Winnipeg. She served fifteen years in prison, followed by two years in a halfway house in Montreal. Today, she is out on parole.
In September 2015, Pranteau was invited to participate in a discussion on the situation of Indigenous women in the Canadian prison system, organized by the Faculty of Law at McGill University. Following talks by two experts, she took the floor to recount her experience in prison.
The panel took place at the Moot Court at McGill University. This amphitheatre is a replica of a courtroom surrounded by tiered rows of seats and is used to train future lawyers. Pranteau therefore found herself in court once again, being scrutinized by an audience, within an amphitheatre that also conjures up images of dissection halls in European faculties of medicine during the Renaissance.
Sheri Pranteau: Undisappeared reconstructs her experience in the Moot Court. By concentrating viewers’ eyes on Pranteau, this multiple-screen video installation emphasizes the power relations that underlie the very architecture of the amphitheatre. Pranteau is filmed in close-up in order to fully empower her words. The audience seats are empty. The absence of spectators and jurors removes the function of courtroom from the place.
As they experience the installation, spectators are called upon to observe the point to which the powers that be dictate our gazes, particularly with regard to Indigenous women. Historically, the representation of Indigenous people has alternated between invisibility and the spectacle of suffering. Groupe Épopée hopes that this project will help to expose (and defuse) a representation process that, under cover of good intentions, extends colonial measures.
The installation is subtitled in Atikamekw, the language of the Indigenous nation in whose territory the MAJ is situated. The translator into Atikamekw is Nicole Petiquay.
In collaboration with Vidéographe.
Work shown in the banner:
© Groupe Épopée, Sheri Pranteau: Undisappeared, 2017.
Épopée is a cinema action group based in Montreal, which carries out projects addressing present-day situations. Since 2005, Épopée has created film projects in collaboration with sex workers and drug users, students and militants during and after the 2012 Québec Student Strike, and lately with a group of Yanomami in the Brazilian Amazon. The group’s works have been shown, among others, at Dazibao (Montréal, 2012), the Festival du nouveau cinéma (Montréal, 2012), the Visions du réel film festival (Nyon, 2013), Interference Archive (New York (2013), the Manif d’Art 7 (Québec, 2014), and the FOFA Gallery – Encuentro (Montréal, 2014). Épopée has also brought its work to universities and collectives in Europe, the USA, Canada and Québec.
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Vidéographe is dedicated to the research and dissemination of new artistic forms addressing current social, political, and technological issues, and endeavours to explore unconventional narrative and documentary approaches in video art, animation, and digital arts, among other mediums.