Culture + Community: Social Practice and the City

Christopher Sessums
Friday, October 25, 2013 (All day) - Saturday, October 26, 2013 (All day)

Culture + Community is an annual gathering of artists, and cultural practitioners, community leaders and citizens addressing and celebrating the current state of social practice and community arts practice.

Please note both Friday night and Saturday are now full! If you are registered and can't make it, please cancel your ticket to make space for those on the waitlist.

This year, the event will be held in dialogue with New York-based Creative Time’s annual summit Art, Place and Dislocation in the 21st Century, which shares a focus on culture and the urban environment. By linking to Creative Time, Culture + Community aims to connect local and global discussions on community engaged arts and social practice as active ingredients in the construction and shaping of the contemporary city.

On Friday night, visiting artist and educator Ted Purves will deliver a keynote, Endless Occupations: Art, Social Forms and the World-at-Large. Day two of Culture + Community brings the debate to Vancouver, to consider the impact and implications – from gentrification to arts districts, public art space and urban planning – of artistic practices to making and remaking our city. Attendees are invited to visit a series of artist-led games, performances and interventions in the False Creek Flats. 


Friday, October 25 - Emily Carr University of Art + Design

8:20 am - Welcome
8:30 am - 4:00 pm - Facilitated Live Stream of Creative Time’s Summit Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st Century Room 285E, Emily Carr (No advance registration required)

The 2013 Creative Time Summit sets its sights on the fact that culture, for good or bad, is an active ingredient in the construction and shaping of the contemporary city. Tapping into widespread debate on this issue, this year’s Summit provides a global platform for consideration of the trials, tribulations, artistic practices, campaigns, theories, and practicalities that accompany this phenomenon. As the active role of culture in the city gains traction not only with artists but also with architects, city planners, philanthropists, and developers—from eye-popping monumental sculpture, to arts districts, to battles over eviction and squatting—this year’s Summit provides a timely opportunity to debate and consider a variety of artistic approaches to this contemporary condition.

Over the past four decades, Creative Time has commissioned and presented ambitious public art projects with thousands of artists throughout New York City, across the country, around the world—and now even in outer space. Our work is guided by three core values: art matters, artists’ voices are important in shaping society, and public spaces are places for creative and free expression. We are committed to presenting important art for our times and engaging broad audiences that transcend geographic, racial, and socioeconomic barriers.

7:00 pm - Ted Purves: Endless Occupations: Art, Social Forms and the World-at-Large (Full - Waitlist for Friday's keynote)

Ted Purves is a writer and artist based in Berkeley, California. His public projects and writings are centered on investigating the practice of art in the world, particularly as it addresses issues of localism and power, systems of exchange, and critical occupations of social forms. He produces socially-based projects in collaboration with Susanne Cockrell under the umbrella name of Fieldfaring. Their most recent project, The Red Bank Pawpaw Circle, a large public planting project, was completed in  Cincinnati, Ohio in Fall 2012. Purves was the founder of the MFA concentration in Social Practice at California College of the Arts in 2005, and is currently the Chair of the MFA Fine Arts Program. His book, What We Want is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art, was published by SUNY Press in 2005. A significantly expanded and revised edition will be released in early 2014.

Saturday, October 26 - St. Francis Xavier School, 428 Great Northern Way (Full - Waitlist for Saturday's events)

9:00 am - Check in
9:30 am - Welcome, Larry Grant
10:15 am- Some Assembly Required: Artists in Infrastructures, moderated by Justin Langlois

The movement of artists, curators, and administrators from artist-run culture into formal institutions creates both inspiring opportunities and daunting challenges. Mapped against the economic conditions, realities, and imperatives of the city, does this movement help to spur new forms of practice and support, or simply reinforce the powers structures and economic climates of traditional development and cultural policy? What are artists, designers, and curators to do in response to a city that aims to create resilient neighbourhoods, while encouraging staggering development that dramatically changes those same neighbourhoods? Do these realities implore cultural practitioners to imagine, infiltrate, or to invent, and at what cost? Should these conditions inspire them create new social, physical, and affective spaces, or occupy existing ones? For this panel, Vanessa Kwan, Shaun Dacey, and Michelle Fu will discuss their own practices in relation to the roles and infrastructures they curate, occupy, and assemble towards charting a lineage and trajectory of the limits and possibilities of artist-led culture in the city.

Michelle Fu ('09) is an artist and the co-founder of 221A, where she is currently the Special Projects Coordinator. Her work at 221A has involved the development of multi-use facilities in response to the contemporary conditions of arts funding, taking part in the paradoxical spaces of profit, social history and shifting communities.

Shaun Dacey is the Curator of Learning and Public Programmes at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. He has cultivated a diverse career as a programmer including key positions as Director/Curator of Access Gallery, Public Programmer at the Burnaby Art Gallery, and Youth Programmes Coordinator at Oakville Galleries.

Vanessa Kwan ('04) is a Vancouver-based artist and programmer. Recent projects include a public artwork called Geyser for Hillcrest Park (with fellow alum Erica Stocking), Sad Sack, a series of collaborations on the subject of melancholy, and Everything Between Open and Closed, a study of signs.

Justin Langlois (Assistant Professor) is an artist and organizer working across media and social practices. He is the co-founder and research director of Broken City Lab, an artist-led interdisciplinary research collective working to unfold and disrupt locality, infrastructures, and creative practice leading towards civic change. His practice explores collaborative structures, critical pedagogy, and registers of failure as tools for enacting different ways to be in the world.

11:30 am - 2:00 pm - Artist Interventions and Lunch 
Attendees are invited to explore parts of the False Creek Flats and visit a variety of artist-led interventions, games and performances. Lunch will be available from food carts.

Singing to the Land
Peter Morin
('01) is a Tahltan Nation artist, curator and writer currently based in Victoria, BC. Morin's visual arts practice investigates the impact between indigenous culturally-based practices and western settler colonialism. This work, defined by Tahltan Nation epistemological production, often takes on the form of performance interventions. Peter has participated in numerous exhibitions and performance events including Team Diversity Bannock and the World’s Large Bannock Attempt (2005), 12 Making Objects A.K.A First Nations DADA (2009), Peter Morin's Museum (2011), and This is What Happens When you Perform the Memory of the Land (2013). He has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Anthropology, Western Front, The Burnaby Art Gallery and Grunt Gallery among others and in 2012 co-curated, Carrying on Irregardless: Humour in Contemporary Native Art for the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. Morin will be joining the Visual Arts Faculty at Brandon University in 2014.

Shelter, Carley Hodgkinson ('02, sessional faculty)
The False Creek Flats section of Vancouver is really and truly an East meets West blank canvas, with embedded local narratives (the Van East cross, renewed interest in False Creek breweries, a hot spot of galleries on Great Northern Way) duelling with encroaching development, urban voids and industry. This natural tension is the perfect ground zero for our very own scaled down version of multiplayer game play. Teams of 3 - 5 people build outdoor living spaces with limited resources. Provided with a basic set of found materials and tools and a small parcel of land, team members can make do with what they have, scavenge or barter with competing teams for materials that they need to complete their space.

Gamelan Bike Bike
Publik Secrets is comprised of a team of visual artists, musicians, and fabricators. our work centers upon a collective effort to activate the participatory potential of public space(s). We strive to invoke wonder, play, and improvisation through interactive art and sound installations.

League is an open group of people who gather to play sports and games invented by members of the community, as a practice of creative problem-solving and negotiation between strangers in public space. League is a sort of sandbox for experiments around improvisation, performance, co-operation, and strategy. People who drop in to our events begin to play with suggested guidelines/equipment/space, and the games evolve through trial and improvisation, as strategies emerge, rules are modified, and new tools are invented. The processes of learning, adapting and evolution through iteration are central to the overall concept. League attracts participants who are adaptable and have a tolerance for (or even attraction to) uncertainty, provisional process, negotiation, and unconventional approaches to problems. They may or may not identify as athletes, but are expected to bring all faculties of the mind and body to their play.

Primordial Perception
Zoe Kreye and Luciana D'Anunciação
 invite participants to explore the city through its direct relationship with the body. Within a workshop format we will lead series of physical exercises that intertwine internal personal space and external public space.

Understanding the city as an extension of our bodies, they are interested in the concept of “primordial perception”, a term used by Merleau-Ponty to describe the bodily sensation from contact between individual and outside world, believing that these inner and outer worlds are intertwined. Our movement and perception exercises will focus on breath, sense awareness, images of our organs, feedback from our surroundings, and will expand beyond normative physicality within public space -- making our bodies all eyes, participatory eyes in the city.

The workshop will for 10-20 participants and will take place outdoors in the False Creek flats. The False Creek flats are a layered region, rich with history and ‘potential’ - uncovered waterways, numerous development plans, historic residents, industrial uses, and dead spaces. It is one of the only areas in Vancouver that does not have an overly determined, cohesive identity. How is such urban complexity situated in our body? What might happen when we intertwine both the interstitial spaces of the city and our bodies? As you state, “culture, for good or bad, is an active ingredient in the construction and shaping of the contemporary city”.  A deep exploration of our physicality will help us embody modes of unlearning our assumed relationship to our city. This work acknowledges the history of the land we reside on, and looks to complicate our daily relationships with space in order to reconcile the dislocations we experience.

Kreye and D'Anunciação are members of, and gain deep inspiration from working with Dance Troupe Practice (Vancouver); a self-organized and non-hierarchical dance collaborative that is open to anyone interested in exploring life and creativity through movement. This workshop grows from their latest project Unlearning Weekender 2 and is inspired by the work of DTP, Catherine Grau, Anna Halprin, Helen Walkley and Tannis Hugil. 

2:00 pm - Return to St. Francis Xavier School

2:15 pm - Kamala Todd and Oliver Kelhammer, in conversation

Kamala Todd was born and raised in the Coast Salish territory of Vancouver, BC. She is Cree-Metis and German. Kamala has a Masters degree in Urban Geography from UBC. Her work as a community planner, filmmaker and writer is focused on facilitating and making space for Aboriginal stories and perspectives in our cities. Kamala worked for the City of Vancouver for several years as the Aboriginal Social Planner, and continues to work as a consultant with the City to help build greater Aboriginal inclusion and voice. She has created such community arts projects as Storyscapes and Indigenous City. Kamala's film credits include Sharing our Stories: the Vancouver Dialogues Project, Indigenous Plant Diva and Cedar and Bamboo. She also worked as writer and director on the children's Cree language series Nehiyawetan (APTN). Her published writings include the recent essay "Thoughts about making places: Hollywood North and the indigenous city", in the book World Film Locations: Vancouver". In 2006, Kamala was honoured with the Greater Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Award for Community Leadership. Recently, Kamala helped develop and facilitate the City of Vancouver Dialogues Project, an innovative cross-cultural project that has gained attention across Canada as a way to build understanding between Native and non-Native communities. This year, she was asked to facilitate the historic government to government dialogue between the City of Vancouver and the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. Kamala lives with her husband and two young sons in Gibsons, BC on the beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Oliver Kellhammer is a Canadian land and social practice artist, teacher and writer. His botanical interventions and public art projects demonstrate nature's surprising ability to recover from damage. His work facilitates the processes of environmental regeneration by engaging the botanical and socio-political underpinnings of the landscape, taking such forms as small-scale urban eco-forestry, inner city community agriculture and the restoration of eroded railway ravines. His process is essentially anti-monumental - as his interventions integrate into the ecological and cultural communities that form around them, his role as artist becomes increasingly obscured. He describes what he does as a kind of catalytic model-making that lives on as a vehicle for community empowerment while demonstrating methods of positive engagement with the global environmental crisis.

3:15 pm - Open Discussion

3:45 pm - Closing Remarks, Ted Purves

This event is co-hosted by the City of Vancouver/Cultural Services, Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

Archive of 2012 Culture + Community gathering.