Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Sometimes I think it is foggy and I am interrupted in this thinking

There was again a hint of fog yesterday. A friend texted me to report it was rolling up the hill! A most generous gesture. However the fog did not reach our recent fog capacity. By this evening, I exited the Vancouver Art Gallery to the least celebratory of rains. A smearing type of rain, with one redeeming feature. It did not flood your shoes.

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Today was the final installment of the PuSh Festival project Sometimes I think, I can see you (Mariano Pensotti) that I’ve been working on for the past three weeks. It has been a curious study in response, boundaries, public space, movement, exhaustion, repetition — and most poignantly for me, interruption. What is it for text (created realtime) to interrupt public space and respond to movement, to speculate on that movement or fictionalize it and then or perhaps now contemplate the response to that fiction.  It was diverse and darting the response. From the warm hugs, loud laughter, genuine confidant who would share the other side of “their story” to the restrained, to the affronted, the indifferent, confused and much more inbetween.

I’ll share a moment from today Sunday. A young woman who I had fictionalized on the screen as a skateboarder jumped to her feet, took to the foyer of the VAG and broke out twice in some fairly wild break dancing.

And yesterday, a woman and her daughter passed me on the street on my way to VPL and we exchanged a bit of banter about boots. Later I noticed them walking and watching the installation as I wrote, so I added them into my fiction. Finally I bumped into them again on the third floor at the Human Library PuSh project and we had a great old natter about our various encounters that day: the real and the fictional.

I had multiple experiences with this kind of exchange with members of the public who would chat once I had finished my writing shift and I am grateful to those people who approached and spoke with me so warmly about their experience on the other side of it. Thank you to the public for their collaborative, warm spirit and even to the resistors (or affronted) since resistance or objecitng in itself is a response. It’s a response to public art. It’s a response to the interruption that is public art. And it causes us to examine what we are prepared to be interrupted by? Must interruption have a purpose? What is the relationship between interruption and entitlement? Do the entitled feel they are above interruption? What is the relationship between interruption and social class and how does interruption manifest itself in other parts of the city ? And to return to the project brief what of the silent interrupter, the hidden documenter, what of the surveillance camera or drone? What if the charting is quiet, passive and secret rather than bold and declaratory?

Thank you to the PuSh Festival for including me in this project and to my fellow writers who participated and the volunteers who helped out and the staff at the various locations.

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My favourite noticing in the Push Festival programme is that the event entitled Cartographic Exploits has no location yet attached to it.

 

1 Vancouverite meets 100% Vancouver

Yesterday, thanks to the kindness of a friend, I experienced (attended doesn’t quite suffice! since I found myself narrating through out it), a piece at the Push Festival called 100% Vancouver. The piece was a form of statistical social anthropology combining mapping, movement, questions, truth, but centrally 100 local citizens selected in a (sorta) chain reaction and within that, representative demographics of all who live in Vancouver. (sorta)…

The participants were brave to stand up there, endearing, engaging, moving and very funny. Their individual stories, many of which were hinted at, I’d like to have heard more of.

Experiencing the piece there was a sense of being “inside” the city. I’d speculate other pieces in the Push fest will form an external looking on, or at, even while attempting to be within because of the instruments and techniques they employ to try to capture or understand who and what we are. The mirror rather than the tunnel or well. So in this regard 100% Vancouver offered something unique. Then we factor in the truth of what the people are telling us about what they live or feel and things become hazy. What’s said inside the tunnel may not be what is reflected in the mirror?

To put aside the respect I have for the bravery of those who participated (these people are not performers and their willingness to tell us something of what they think, live, have lived, is to be admired and appreciated) later I began to contemplate the bigger canvas of what the project attempted and where it might go next or where it could have gone further.

The reality of living in this city became obscured somewhat by the rising wave of civic pride (within the piece and audience) that inevitably takes place when we, visually and emotionally, connect with familiar sounds (names, areas, addresses, points of reference, the I live here geddit sense of being one of all these people before me and identifying with them — especially the most endearing characters). And I’d add when the Mayor is sitting in the back row, along with other civic celebs.

The optimism of the 100% surprised me and I wondered of the contagion factor.

Three neighbourhoods were missing: curiously close in geographic area (Oakridge, Shaughnessy and I think the third was South Cambie (or Fairview?). I think what’s absent should somehow be addressed within the piece and the difficulty of why no one could be found who met the demographic requirement because that also tells us something about where we live.

I’d love to see a further interrogation of the idea behind the piece. Something that would dig beyond the census box ticking. Perhaps something riskier, that said I recognize the barriers and reasons why that might be difficult within what was a “theatrical” and performative framework (is that the best medium?)

My friend Lori pointed out in a post discussion that the most compelling moments were when something visually engaging was happening within the piece, or when the people were doing interesting things with their bodies. There was one example that stood out when all 100 individuals physically acted out in gestures what they usually do at every hour of the day. The time was projected behind them and they’d mime their activities. It provided us with a wealth of contrast and actions and individual lives to examine and again put us “inside” the city.

I’ll upload some of the questions later to give you an idea of what was posed to the participants. The most invigorating events are those you leave and think more on or think out from. Departure points to further inquiry. This was one such event.