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Bringing to life an artistic movement that has inspired generations

By Costa Maragos Posted: October 4, 2016 6:00 a.m.

The Caligari Project is named after the 1920 German silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The movie will be screened October 16 with a live orchestral performance at the Conexus Arts Centre.
The Caligari Project is named after the 1920 German silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The movie will be screened October 16 with a live orchestral performance at the Conexus Arts Centre. Photo courtesy of The Caligari Project

The artistic movement, known as German Expressionism, has come to life in a big way on campus and across the city.

The Caligari Project is a unique, multi-disciplinary, city-wide, public festival celebrating German Expressionism in its many forms. The festival encompasses visual arts, film, music, dance, theatre, puppetry and a speakers series at the University of Regina. It runs until December.

Caligari Poster
Here are the presentations occurring on campus. For the full city-wide schedule of events please visit www.Caligari.ca

Not to be missed is the screening of the silent horror classic "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," which features the premiere of a score by Jason Cullimoredoctoral student in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance, and a live orchestral performance, conducted by Victor Sawa. To purchase tickets please visit here.

For more information on all the events please visit www.caligari.ca.

We spoke with one of the organizers of this unique festival, Dr. Christina Stojanova, associate professor in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance (MAP).

The fascination with German Expressionism  

The opening lecture to The Art of Expressionism Speaker Series, “German Expressionism in Context: The First World War and the European Avant-Garde” by Dr Germani, has thrown in high relief the fact that the European iconoclastic artistic movements like Expressionism, Surrealism, Constructivism, emerged as a reaction to the catastrophe of WWI. The shift towards Expressionism was also prompted by the negative impacts of the industrial revolution, which have been reverberating through the current trends of Globalization. In the wake of destroyed local cultural and social ecologies, modern life invariably brings to bear profound feelings of alienation, loneliness, and skepticism about the true relationship between oneself and nature, which have been best conveyed through the artistic tropes of Expressionism. Therefore, we are hosting nine richly illustrated presentations of the speaker series by professors from MAP, Faculty of Arts and Campion College. The speakers are looking at the various aspects of expressionism in painting, literature, theatre, scenography, music, poetry, and film. (See poster)  

The influence of German Expressionism to this day

The aggressive questioning of the representational view of art by German Expressionist artists – most of them Jewish – brought on the demise of the historical movement as ‘degenerate art’ in the hands of the Nazis, thus forcefully revealing its ideologically adversarial potential. Henceforth the ability of Expressionism to articulate deep-seated anxieties and desires has secured its longevity for over a century now as one of the most eloquent artistic ways for challenging the status quo in art and in life.

Prof. Christina
Film professor Christina Stojanova invites the public to take in the many events and develop a new appreciation for the art of German Expressionism. Photo by Eagleclaw Thom

The relevance of German Expressionism for film students.  

For our film students – and for all those who take the introductory Film 100: The Art of Motion Picture, one of the MAP most popular courses across disciplines -- German Expressionism, and its iconic film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, made in 1920 by Robert Wiene, are staples in their studies of film history and aesthetics. Film students are particularly fond of German Expressionist film aesthetics, and apply it avidly in their works, as will be seen at The Caligari Salon: An Evening of Sideshows, Cinema, Art & Angst (Oct 20, MacKenzie Art Gallery). It is not without a reason that one of Canada’s most famous film directors, Guy Maddin, is a consummate follower of German Expressionist Aesthetics, which is the subject of our Speaker Series keynote address, “From Weimar to Winnipeg: German Expressionism and Guy Maddin” by Dr. Andrew Burke  Oct 17.

And last but not least, the Film Department is related to German Expressionism by one degree of separation – its founder, the late Jean Oser, who came to Regina via the US, after fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s, began his career as an editor for the German Expressionist director G. W. Pabst in the 1920s.


Public encouraged to be a part of this unique festival

   The Regina-wide celebration of German Expressionism invites audiences from all walks of life to mingle with local artists and academics, and to develop a new appreciation for the art of Expressionism, including its own local brand of original music, prairie Gothic films, puppetry, paintings, and dance. These events will hopefully elicit reflections on our collective fears and anxieties, prompted by an ever-growing alienation from nature, from our communities, and from our true selves.

The remaining presentations from the Art of Expressionism Speaker Series are scheduled for Oct 6, 13, 17 and 19, at the ShuBox Theatre, Riddell Centre (7:30 p.m. - 9:45 p.m.). The events are free and everyone is welcome