Category Archives: Academics

Performance Art

University isn’t just about the hum drum, day-to-day, get up go to class, in one ear and out the other type of learning. It’s about understanding and absorbing the information, applying it to your surroundings, contextualizing it and that is when you truly learn. Just about all of my classes this semester overlap with one another, referencing the same topics, but accessing them from all sorts of different angles.

I’m writing this post because I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been “learning” about in my visual arts class. It is a conceptual art class so the main purpose is to explore, construct and deconstruct meaning. What is art? Ahh the age old question…. that will unfortunately never be answered, not in this class at least. But anyways, the point is to get you thinking. It isn’t supposed to make much sense and you aren’t supposed to be comfortable. The class works to push you and honestly, although its a real pain in the ass, that is the only way you’ll ever learn. So despite my late night rant sessions to my poor roommate about VISA 183, I did indeed learn something.

One of the areas we covered and one that I was most interested in was within the realm of contemporary performance art. Performance art is a relatively new practice but it began in the 60s, gaining popularity in the 70’s. It was not considered theater, it was live art and artists in this movement emphasized the act of performing as something that was non-tangible.  Unlike other work that was going on around it, performance art sought to challenge the commodifcation process of art-making. This type of art was not about the money it could generate but rather, the pure experience.

All cannot be said without mentioning one of the foregrounding performing artists of this time, Marina Abramović’. Abramović’ works a lot with her audience, testing their limits, while further exploring ideas of the body and mind. Recently, in 2010, Marina’s work was exhibited at the MOMA in New York City. The exhibit was titled “The Artist is Present” and involved a revolutionary live piece where the artist herself was open to interact with the audience in a unique way. It is something you have to see for yourself so I will not try to explain, but I have uploaded excerpts from the corresponding documentary “The Artist is Present,” below so you can get a glimpse.

If you’re still interested or want to learn more about some contemporary work going on today, click here. And I highly encourage you to get a hold of “The Artist is Present” so you can watch the entire documentary.

If you have any further questions about VISA 183, a first year visual arts course offered here at UBC, don’t hesitate to ask!

Honey, Don’t Stress!

First off, I apologize for slackin’ on my posts lately it has a been a busy last couple of weeks around here. I must say I am definitely feeling the wrath of these final projects!

However, in the midst of all this chaos I have still managed to find some time to fulfill my procrastinating duties, but not the kind I had hoped for. Last Thursday I landed myself a WICKED migraine. If you have ever personally been victimized by one of these god awful experiences, I feel for you. And if you haven’t….consider yourself lucky. Long story short after paying the UBC hospital a visit and receiving some medication, I was practically bedridden for 2 full days. This may sound like a really fun time you know pop a movie in, get some snacks, hangout. Unfortunately that was not the case and I had to lie there in the dark, alone, in attempts to calm down some of the symptoms. If you’re anything like myself; impatient, restless, talkative etc. this task was extremely difficult!

This week I finished my term research paper, a presentation for my Swedish class and am on the road to completing my life size self-portrait for art. 5 gold stars for me! Now I’m feelin’ good, I’m feeling like I’m on top of things. I plan on gearin’ up for finals season stress FREE. I know UBC has many resources available to students to help deal with stress and especially around exam time. I mean let’s get real, would you pass up a 30 minute session to play with an adorable puppy? Or perhaps may I suggest the lovely annual Undie Run, where students get together to run around campus in their underwear in 5 degree weather. Now obviously I have never personally experienced such events, this being my first year and all, but they have certainly gained quite the reputation. Someone want to try it out with me?

For my own sake, if that doesn’t work out, I know I can rely on my trusty companion You-Tube, for when one is having a mini brain lapse or mini meltdown, whichever happens first.

When you “read” the same 3 sentences over more than 5 times and you still don’t know what is going on, you have probably encountered a brain lapse.

A mini meltdown may look a little more like this:

“That’s it. I’m done. I quit.”

followed by…

“Hmm, maybe I could just skip it?! Its what, only 30%?….” [insert an elaborate plan to induce over-sleeping your alarm on exam day]

And when both happen together, we turn to You-Tube


and finally


Alright, hope you enjoy everybody, and good luck with exams! 🙂

The Small Fish Syndrome

It’s no surprise that UBC is a highly competitive university. Every year students from all over the world are pooled together to attend this highly recognized institution. Although, when you are submerged in an environment where everyone is of the same caliber as you, the standards are a lot higher. For many, you were probably that BIG fish in the small pond. High school might have been difficult at times, but for most it probably never reached far out of your comfort zone; one could perform at their maximum and succeed. But here, you’re essentially surrounded by the best of the best and no longer do you have that big fish status. Guys, the pond has turned into an ocean and it is sink or swimmmmmmm. Haha alright..sooooo….a little cliché, but it does the job.

There is always that stigma of university. Before coming to UBC people always told me to manage my time, stay organized, do this, do that…. And I was conscious of the changes I would soon face, but I also knew I could never predict what was to come until I experienced it myself. Having been here for a month (wow, time really flies….) I’ve noticed a lot of those changes. Which brings me to my point, how does one deal with the small fish syndrome? If you’re like me, you might have found a challenge in adapting to academia in terms of standards. I don’t want to assume everyone struggles with this, but it’s probably on a lot of people’s minds. Keeping up with the work and material is manageable, but it’s that mental barrier that takes time to conquer. It’s easy to doubt your own abilities when you’re surrounded by people who have set the bar really high.

Some things I found that have helped:

Visit the UBC Learning Commons, where a plethora of resources are available to you. On the website you can find tips on: how to take notes, asking questions/communicating with your TA and Professors, writing resources and more. The Learning Commons is there to promote student success in a variety of ways. Take advantage of it, and get on track so you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Set personal goals that work for you, your pace and your style of learning. Setting goals early in the game can save you a lot of energy and help you make efficient use of your time. Having goals for yourself sets the bar and keeps you focused. The course load or type of work can be really demanding in your first couple of weeks, especially as you’re still learning to adapt. Some of my biggest weaknesses are not knowing when to stop and having to deal with abrupt changes. I have tendencies to worry about things I can’t control, and overwork myself, which has lead to some pretty stressful moments in the past. But by setting personal goals, I was able to map out what I was being asked of from my classes, what I wanted to contribute, how to do that and subsequently, how to succeed.

Try not to compare yourself to others. Some may say find that competition motivates them but comparison can be quite self-defeating. You are here to experience life and learning and to find something that you are passionate about. Don’t worry what others are doing, its too counterproductive.

Remind yourself why you are here and honor that accomplishment. You have made it this far for a reason, and that is something special.

You may not be able to change the things that you face but you can certainly remain positive and in that, find ways to cope. Being that small fish is all apart of the process, and although it may not be what you’re used too (like in my case), you have to make the best of it, or make it work for you.