By Andrea Stach
Beginning in 2008, painter and printmaker Christian Chapman began his six-year journey of storytelling through film. Using black and white Super 8 film, which gives a grainy and nostalgic feel to the picture, Chapman captures the story of a fictitious Woodland artist who lives his days in the bush in his film Edmazinbiiget. Shot throughout all four seasons in his home community of Fort William First Nation on the shores of Lake Superior, Chapman strives to tell the story about the artists that have inspired him. Jackson Beardy, Carl Ray, Benjamin Chee Chee, and Norval Morrisseau are talents who have inspired Chapman by embracing their life in remote locations while creating captivating pieces of art and expression.
But Edmazinbiiget is more than one story. Instead, it is four different stories of the same artist, as seen from different views and perspectives of other filmmakers in addition to Chapman. While at a residency at the Banff Centre, facilitated by Raven Chacon on bridging the gap between Aboriginal and Western art forms, Chapman met his project collaborators: Marja Bål Nango, Nathan Young, Sébastien Aubin, and Caroline Monnet. For this project, Chapman provided each of his collaborating artists with his footage with which they could create their own interpretation of the main character’s story. While the raw images do not change, the artists edit the film to change the sequence of presentation and use different filters and speeds to create four entirely different stories of the same person. Knowing as recasting, this technique suggests the remaking of something or reassigning an established role. In addition, each film has an original musical score that carries the viewer along as they watch the protagonist embrace the beautiful and sometimes harsh elements of his surroundings.
With some formal training in painting from Lakehead University and film training from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Chapman lives and works on Fort William First Nation where he has created his film lab and studio in his home. “Storytelling through filmmaking is my passion that helps to balance my life,” Chapman says. And he has more plans to try some other new ideas with film for future projects.
Edmazinbiiget shares the spotlight with a photography exhibition by another local artist, Bev Koski, and together their show is called Recast. Showing at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery until September 6, the stories and images in Recast may make you reconsider that things could always mean something different than they first appear.