Tag Archives: culture

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!

“Participate or You Will Disappear”

I have made a conclusion.

I have concluded that inspiration truly does come in the most unexpected of places, delivered to you by the most unexpected events. This week, inspiration came from a panel discussion that I attended called “Colours of Collaboration,” an event put on and held by the Caribbean and African Association (CAA) here at UBC. When my girl Ava Fard (fellow blog squadder) suggested we check it out I thought what better way to get a sense for some of the clubs on campus then to actually GO to one of their events.

There were 3 panelists, and 1 keynote speaker, all of which had a unique insight and contribution to the discussion. But most importantly they were not there to boast for this club, to recruit members, or to even discuss the club/organization itself, so much as they were there to represent ideas of approaching multiculturalism, social change, and essentially, collaboration.
I briefly go into some of the topics covered that night, below:

Power and Social Hierarchy

How have we come to perceive power in society? Is knowledge power? Is class power? What about race? These were some of the things that Minnijean Brown-Trickery (keynote speaker) brought up in her talk. Having taken part in Little Rock Nine during the civil rights movement in the United States, and along with many of the other things she has accomplished, she was able to discuss racialization and the role of young individuals, specifically educated students, in making change. She described this type of duty as a “social obligation”, our role as students, our role as the educated, our role as human beings. Minnijean Brown-Trickery along with the other panelists spurred a lot of questioning, provoking somewhat of a paradigm shift in the way I thought about race and its part within this wider and complex system.

What is Multiculturalism?

The more you get involved and engaged with material in your classes and events like this, the easier you find it to make compound connections. The debate over multiculturalism and its policies is actually a foregrounding topic in my human geography class this semester. This dialog added a great perspective to the topic because here we were, living and discussing it first hand. What privilege we have to live in a society where we have at least achieved multiculturalism. And to attend a school where your floor alone (in residence) is composed of students from over at least 10 different nations? Whether or not we have fully accomplished the integration of cultures is still a contested topic, but at least we’ve made progress. This is why social change is stressed, because the changes we make today are directly affecting the people of tomorrow (Ex. immigration laws). As Minnijean wittily said “Obama would not be here if it weren’t for me”. What she meant was that the struggles that she faced and the fight that she fought directly influenced how society has progressed, how society has changed.

How Can We Collaborate?

Finally we must ask ourselves how can we collaborate? Well I think attending this event was the first step. As I looked around the room there were not just students who were enrolled in this club, but a mix of different races and different students of all ages. That is what I am striving to embrace, accept and encourage. A great lesson learned was that many of the clubs, like the CAA, do not discriminate or hold a standard that you must be of African or Caribbean descent to join. Part of collaborating is about spreading awareness of these cultures, and spreading that awareness with many different types of students.

So I think you may be able to take a few things away with you from this, I know i did! Don’t forget to also get involved. Take part in social change, challenge hierarchal structures, learn, engage and collaborate! Because if you don’t participate, you will disappear. Mark Minnijean Brown-Trickery’s words.


Cultural Night @ UBC

Let’s kick things off with a little promo video:

2 days ago I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Cultural Night organized and hosted by UBC’s very own ISAS (International Students Association of Sauder). You can bet that an event with a cultural undertone will always spark my interest, so when I discovered Cultural Night I had to go. There is something very humbling and grounding when you are surrounded by people from all over the world. Teaching, learning, and gaining from others is an enriching experience and you really have that opportunity at UBC, you just have to find them. So in short, I got dressed up and headed over to the Sauder (UBC’s school of business) building where they had set up an elegant red carpet for the upcoming fashion show and multicultural performances for Cultural Night.

The night started off with an entertaining hip hop routine and was followed by a fusion of traditional Indian and Chinese attire in the fashion show. There was also a traditional Persian music performance, a really entertaining and energetic Bollywood dance, an accapella ensemble, K-ware (korean pop dancing) and even a belly dancer! Not to mention the DJ of the night, who kept the mood alive. I was even tempted to ‘Shazam’ all of the songs (Shazam= IPhone’s application for detecting unknown songs).

Overall, the night was fun and entertaining and I am excited that I was able to be a part of it. Organizations like ISAS who put on shows like this are really striving to encourage cultural awareness and embrace cultural difference. Being a part of the UBC community has taught me to embrace my own ethnicity and those of others. I had always been aware of this great diversity on campus, but I had never truly been educated on the different aspects of those cultures. UBC provides many other opportunities like this one for students to get involved, experience something new, and have fun, you just have to be willing!

**Visit ISAS’s website for more information!