Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beat Nation

Although the curatorial directive behind the Vancouver Art Gallery's upcoming Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop, and Aboriginal Culture show is both vague and broad, this show promises to contain some provocative pieces. This exhibition is actually based on a small event that took place last March at one of the VAG Fuse nights. Facilitated by Vancouver's grunt gallery, fifteen First Nations visual artists and eight performance artists presented works based on their personal interests and skills as representatives of the country's urban Native youth. From the saucy fashion of Tsimshian designer Morgan Green to the free-form poetry of Kinnie Starr, the works included in the event were diverse but were all focused on inner-city living and the influence of hip hop culture. 

As a bridge from last year's casual and energetic Fuse party to the formal exhibition that is beginning this month, the VAG is hosting another Fuse night to open the show. This event is taking place on Friday the 24th, costs $17.50, and lasts from 8:30pm to 1am. I've been to two Fuse nights in the past and they are fun...just be sure to pre-tune since the bar at the gallery isn't cheap.  

It will be interesting to see how a project based on performance art, hip hop, and informal display will translate to a large, white-washed, quiet gallery setting. It will provide the artists with space and time to display their creations, but art forms like graffiti and rap can lose some of their potency when taken out of context. Among some of the objects on display will be Jordan Bennett's carved skateboard decks and Sonny Assu's "indigenized" iPod rondos, which combine Aboriginal shapes and forms with objects that are seen everyday within the metropolises of North America. Beat Nation will run from February 25 to June 3.    

Keywords: "Vancouver Art Gallery", "Skeena Reece", "VAG Fuse", "Alex Dawkins"    

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