About the Boreality Project

The Boreality Project is a unique, collaborative effort between Prairie Fire Press, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (MCO) and four Winnipeg-based artists. The artists who comprise the project's creative team are Katherine Bitney (writer), Ken Gregory (sound artist), Mandy Malazdrewich (photographer) and Sid Robinovitch (composer). The fifth member of the team is Prairie Fire Press's Managing Editor, Janine Tschuncky (project coordinator). Co-originators of the project's boreal theme are Katherine Bitney and Michelle Forrest. The purpose of this three-year project is to celebrate the boreal forest of Manitoba through a multidisciplinary approach involving writing, sound, music and photography.

BorealityThe project's writer, Katherine Bitney, has been selected because she is a senior Winnipeg poet and a founding editor of Prairie Fire magazine. The project's composer, Sid Robinovitch, has been selected because he is a senior Winnipeg composer who has considerable experience setting writers' words to music and composing for choirs and orchestra. The project's sound artist, Ken Gregory, has been selected because of his experience in collaborative projects such as film shoots and modern dance. The project's photographer, Mandy Malazdrewich, also has been selected because of her experience in collaborative projects, including Prairie Fire's Home Place series.

Stage One has two simultaneous streams of activity. In the exploratory phase, the creative team will travel to a variety of regions in the boreal forest, visiting at least one locale per season, for a minimum of four excursions. During these visits, the members of the creative team will encounter nature and will meet and learn from the people who live in boreal forest communities. This portion of the project offers unique opportunities for outreach, as the creative team will travel to remote communities not usually visited by urban artists.

Environmental reaction will inform the creation of each artist's work; however, the artists will also be expected to interact with each other. Creation will be a collaborative process, although some works will precede others. Katherine Bitney will write a long poem, in any style, on the subject of the boreal forest. Working with composer Sid Robinovitch, she will adapt her poem into a libretto, which will be set to music by Mr. Robinovitch and eventually performed by the MCO. During the boreal excursions, sound artist Ken Gregory will sample the environment. His recordings will inform Mr. Robinovitch's composition, but they will also be used as materials for a soundscape installation of Mr. Gregory's own creation. Mandy Malazdrewich will have the double task of reacting to the boreal environment and also documenting the other artists' process. Her photographs will eventually be published in Prairie Fire, projected on stage during the concert and displayed in the gallery that will house Mr. Gregory's soundscape installation. In these ways, and in others that can't be predicted, the members of the creative team will interact with the environment and with each other in order to produce a wide variety both of solo and collaborative works.

The second stream of activity in Stage One involves having Katherine Bitney serve as Prairie Fire Press's first writer-in-residence. Ms Bitney began working in this capacity for two days a week in January. Her term ends on October 31, 2009. She is based at Aqua Books in downtown Winnipeg but where appropriate will act as guest writer-in-residence in the communities visited by the creative team on its boreal expeditions.

As writer-in-residence, Ms Bitney reads writers' manuscripts and offers feedback and constructive criticism. This service is free and is intended primarily for the benefit of writers writing about and/or out of the boreal forest of Manitoba. This could include writers currently living in a boreal forest community, or who have moved to Winnipeg from a boreal forest community, or who have simply spent time in the boreal forest, whether for purposes of recreation, research, work or for some other reason. Part of Ms Bitney's job is to identify writers who have manuscripts suitable for publication in a future special issue of Prairie Fire magazine devoted to writing of the boreal forest.

Stage Two of the project will follow immediately after Stage One. Ms Bitney will edit a special issue of Prairie Fire in which will appear her long poem/libretto along with work on the boreal theme by writers and artists from across Manitoba and Canada. We anticipate that the premiere performance of Mr. Robinovitch's new composition will take place in the spring of 2011 as part of the MCO's subscription series. We will give each audience member a free copy of the issue of Prairie Fire that includes the libretto. This issue will also be given a festive launch. Education and outreach activities will be planned for Stage Two in conjunction with the concert, publication, display and installation. Depending on funding, a compact disc recording of the performance may be produced and the new composition may be toured to some of the boreal forest communities that helped inspire it.