Way Station

“Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning…”
– T.S.Eliot, Little Gidding, Four Quartets

This recent project references the artist’s Norse ancestry, in addition to her Scottish/Irish heritage, as an additional element in examining the legacy of cultural histories in the present. Visits to points of immigration into Canada, as well as to the Viking site in Newfoundland, have informed the development of this new video work.

The words of the title usually indicate a stopping place for travellers moving from one place to another – an embodiment of the portal or place of transition. The Way Station installation explores the intersection of ancestry, culture, belonging, and claiming, delving into aspects of oppression, violence, and war that characterize most ancestral pathways. As in previous works, the artist performs rituals of cleansing, transformation, and regeneration.

Sandra Vida shares a background with most immigrants to Canada: a patchwork of cultures, a saga of travel and re-location. Scotland and Ireland were victims of invasions by Vikings, and later conquest by the English, involving loss of lands and language. Vida’s ancestors endured displacement from their original lands and later, tacit servitude during the Industrial Revolution in Glasgow. But as descendants of settlers to Canada, we are implicated in falsely claiming land that has been stewarded for generations by its original peoples.

This new piece asks several questions: Which stories truly belong to us? What can be upheld as a personal history and identity? Can a lineage be claimed, (or re-claimed) as belonging to each individual? How can an artist claim creative space while recognizing the fraught history of invasion and displacement?


9:23 minutes


WAY STATION was featured in downtown Edmonton’s THE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL 2023, July 7 to 16 (see online catalogue essay at this link). EMMEDIA in Calgary hosted its exhibition for the month of November 2023, and a similar work will be featured in the upcoming Soul Noir Festival in Dublin in 2024. As a solo video, Way Station was a semi-finalist in the Calgary Independent Film Festival, an official selection in the Austin and San Diego international film events, and has won awards at the Paris Shortfest, the Detroit Independent Film Festival, and the Stockholm Short Fest.