Now Open: Greater Toronto Art 2024, March 22–July 28.

Deanna Bowen

On Trial The Long Doorway

May 30, 2020
–June 26, 2020

Deanna Bowen, still from O̶n̶ ̶T̶r̶i̶a̶l̶ The Long Doorway, 2019. Single-channel video with sound, 60′23″. Courtesy the Artist.

For the newest instalment of Shift Key, MOCA has invited our neighbour, Mercer Union, a non-profit, artist-run centre to contribute a project for our online platform. This week’s content extends our ongoing commitment to collaboration, experimentation and to our community. In recent weeks we have partnered with organizations such as Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, Images Festival and the National Film Board of Canada. 

In Fall 2017, Mercer Union presented a commissioned solo exhibition by Toronto-based artist Deanna Bowen. The work takes as its starting point a lost 1956 CBC teledrama ON TRIAL The Long Doorway by Canadian screenwriter Stanley Mann. It tells the story of a Black legal aid lawyer tasked with representing a white University of Toronto student who is charged with assaulting a rising Black basketball player. No recordings exist of the teledrama, so Bowen used the recovered script and set design notes to restage the work as an experimental exhibition and performance at Mercer Union.

Working with five Black actors, Bowen’s 2017 restaging has been condensed into two works of art: a four-channel installation piece and this single channel video of the restaged teleplay. This single channel version was presented alongside Bowen’s solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver in 2019. For her exhibition there, Bowen created a new body of work investigating the implications of Vancouver’s history of racial discrimination

commissioned essay by Liz Park, Curator of Exhibitions at UB Art Galleries and Dramaturge Notes by Dr. Seika Boye accompanied Deanna Bowen’s exhibition at Mercer Union.

On Trial The Long Doorway was commissioned and produced through a partnership between Mercer Union, a centre for contemporary art, Toronto, and the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.

Courtesy of the Artist. 

Past Shift Key Programmes

A still from Cecilia Vicuña "Paracas" (1983)
Cecilia Vicuña
A Still from Cauleen Smith "Pilgrim" (2017)
Cauleen Smith
Mona Hatoum
Aura Satz
Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road)