Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop
and Aboriginal Culture
Marat Sade Bohnice
15 December–5 May, 2013
Opening: 14 December, 7–11pm
The Power Plant
231 Queens Quay West
M5J 2G8 Canada
The Power Plant’s winter season is extended to present a major group exhibition and a new solo project.
Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture
15 December–5 May, 2013
Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and based on an initiative of grunt gallery.
Beat Nation is co-curated by Kathleen Ritter, Associate Curator, Vancouver Art Gallery and Tania Willard, a Secwepemc artist, designer and curator.
Participating artists: Jackson 2bears, KC Adams, Sonny Assu, Bear Witness, Jordan Bennett, Raymond Boisjoly, Corey Bulpitt & Gurl 23, Kevin Lee Burton, Raven Chacon, Dana Claxton, Nicholas Galanin, Maria Hupfield, Mark Igloliorte, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Duane Linklater, madeskimo, Dylan Miner, Kent Monkman, Marianne Nicolson, Skeena Reece, Hoka Skenandore and Rolande Souliere.
Beat Nation describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban youth culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new works—in painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video—that reflect the current realities of Aboriginal peoples today.
Since the early 1990s, hip hop has been a driving force of activism for urban Aboriginal youth in communities across the Americas. The roots of this music have been influential across disciplines and have been transformed to create dynamic forums for storytelling and indigenous languages, as well as new modes of political expression. In the visual arts, artists remix, mash up and weave together the old with the new, the rural with the urban, traditional and contemporary as a means to rediscover and reinterpret Aboriginal culture within the shifting terrain of the mainstream.
While this exhibition takes its starting point from hip hop, it branches out to refer to pop culture, graffiti, fashion and other elements of urban life. Artists create unique cultural hybrids that include graffiti murals with Haida figures, sculptures carved out of skateboard decks, abstract paintings with form-line design, live video remixes with Hollywood films, and hip hop performances in Aboriginal dialects, to name a few. Beat Nation brings together artists from across the continent—from the West Coast as far north as Alaska and Nunavut, as far east as Labrador and south to New Mexico—and reveals the shared connections between those working in vastly different places.
As Aboriginal identity and culture continue to change, and as artists reinvent older traditions into new forms of expression, their commitment to politics, to storytelling, to Aboriginal languages, to the land and rights remains constant, whether these are stated with drums skins or turntables, natural pigments or spray paint, ceremonial dancing or break dancing.
Presenting Sponsor: TD
Lead Donor: Barry Appleton and the Appleton Foundation
Althea Thauberger: Marat Sade Bohnice
15 December–5 May, 2013
While Thauberger’s practice defies strict definition by medium, she has produced remarkable films, videos, photographs, and performances over the course of her decade-long career. Driven by her interest in and unique facility for collaboration, the thread that connects her projects is her thoughtful engagement with groups of people—most often well-defined social enclaves—as her subjects. She works with these communities to develop performances that offer the participants opportunities for self-exploration and self-definition. The final works—whether videos or photographs—produced by Thauberger to record the collaborations, are always striking documents that entice, engage and surprise her viewers.
Thauberger’s project for the Power Plant is an experimental documentary/video installation about the staging of Peter Weiss’s 1963 play Marat/Sade at the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital in Prague. Thauberger’s new work approaches issues of timely reassessment, institutionalization and shifting political terrain.
The original 1963 play imagines that the Marquis de Sade wrote and directed a play about the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat while the former was interned in the Charenton asylum in 1808, nineteen years after the beginning of the French Revolution and a time of massive institutional reform. This period saw beginnings of the reformation of the treatment of “mental illness” from punishment to “therapy.” In the 1963 play, the inmates enact the drama, and are always partly themselves, as “mental patients,” and partly in historical character. The play reveals an ongoing debate about whether the imperatives of revolution originate within the individual or within society as a whole.
While the original play is set in the bath house of the Charenton asylum, Thauberger’s production is set in the decommissioned laundry/water facilities of another post-revolutionary institution: Bohnice, the largest psychiatric clinic in the Czech Republic. Currently undergoing institutional reform, Bohnice is in the beginning stages of de-institutionalization and the final stages of privatization of some of its services. The production was a collaboration with the Prague-based experimental theatre company Akanda and theatrical director Melanie Rada, in which the play was presented to the patients and staff of Bohnice as well as general audiences who came to the hospital over a five-night run. Thauberger’s THE PERSECUTION AND ASSASSINATION OF JEAN-PAUL MARAT AS PERFORMED BY THE INMATES OF THE ASYLUM OF CHARENTON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE AS PERFORMED BY THE PRAGUE-BASED EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE COMPANY AKANDA FOR THE PATIENTS AND STAFF OF THE BOHNICE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL is a video work that documents and reconfigures the staging of the play in this location to audiences of the patients and staff of the institution.
Support Donor: Margaret C. McNee
Co-presented with Images Festival