Curated by Cathy Mattes, this exhibition featured: Warren Arcand, Kevin Ei-Ichi deForest, Skawennati Fragnito, and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay.With the emergence of MTV and Much Music in the early 1980s, a new form of escapism, and role play surfaced for young people. How youth connected with popular singers and bands changed drastically thanks to vee-jays spinning flashy music videos that provided visual narratives to follow
along with popular music. In basements and bedrooms across the land, youth held brushes as microphones, envisioned themselves in music videos, and mimicked the music stars they admired…Rockstars & Wannabes locates artists who examine the impact of the music industry on identity, using music videos, karaoke, and popular TV talent searches as catalysts. Music as an aid in escaping cross-cultural boundaries, the longing for validation or substance in one’s life, and the lengths some will go to locate and express their inner rock star is investigated.
Warren Arcand’s contribution to Rockstars & Wannabes was a video installation that explored “how youth turn to Rock music as a form of magical thinking, or who alternatively may be used by Rock to refresh and revitalize its own iconography. Within this exchange there are many hazards and casualties, not the least of which is boundary control.” – Warren Arcand.
Kevin Ei-Ichi deForest used Karaoke to out existing stereotypes within popular music and explored the struggle to culturally fit in for those of mixed ancestry. By presenting imagery of Japanese music icons, cityscapes, and the impact of American pop-culture on Japanese youth, his video works exposed how cultural perceptions are internalized, while simultaneously reminding viewers about the potential of music to bridge existing gaps.
located like-minded adults who grew up in the ’80s, and dreamt of being in music videos like those seen on Much Music and MTV. Her video work 80 Minutes,80 Movies, 80s Music, is an ongoing digital-video project which invites Generation X-ers from diverse cultural backgrounds, professions, and locations to live out their 80s rock star dreams in 80 second music videos created by Fragnito. New additions to 80 Minutes, 80 Movies, 80s Music were featured at the exhibition.
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay’s
video and installation work provided a glimpse of his intimate relationship with certain pop music icons. History, sexuality and identity collide in Tape, a musical monologue inspired by outtakes from American idol competitions. In AuditionJimmy, a heraldic flag and documentation of a performative marathon honours Scottish gay pop hero Jimmy Somerville. Referencing a fan’s obsessive sensibility, Jimmy explores the rewriting of narratives about who gets canonized and honoured in popular culture.
With special thanks to our generous funders:
We wish to express additional gratitude to our friends, volunteers, community, and All Our Relations.
Sample Images – Click for larger versions.
Warren Arcand. Flamingo Killers.
Kevin Ei-ichi deForest. Foxy Lady, 2006.
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay. Audition Tape.
Warren Arcand lives and works in Vancouver, where his artistic output includes performance art, film and video, theatre and text based work. His past performance pieces include “Six Gun Sufi” (cowboy ballads and sexdeath mysticism); “Surgery” (hermaphrodism as a metaphor for Abo identity); and most recently “Superchannel” (audience members received wireless headsets giving them access to 7 channels of selectable audio with which they could mix their own ‘soundtrack’ for Warren’s simple performance task of ‘making eye contact’). He is currently teaching performance art at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.
Kevin Ei-ichi deForest
is an internationally recognized visual artist whose practice focuses on the representation of cultural hybridity, specifically with reference to his Eurasian background. Born in Winnipeg, he was part of the fledgling punk rock scene there in the late 70s. In the spirit of his hybrid outlook, his multimedia practice includes painting, installation, video, sound art, and critical writing. He has exhibited nationally as well as in USA, Mexico, Holland, Germany, Italy and
Japan. He recently returned to Manitoba as Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual and Aboriginal Art at Brandon University, Brandon Manitoba.
Skawennati Fragnito is an artist, independent curator, and occasional writer. In 1994, Skawennati co-founded Nation to Nation, a First Nations artist collective, whose exhibitions have included TattoNation and the very popular Native Love, which toured Canada. From 1996 to 2005, Skawennati was the director and primary curator for CyberPowWow, the pioneering Aboriginally-determined on-line gallery and chat space. Her most recent curatorial project is an on-line exhibition entitled Grrls, Chicks, Sisters & Squaws: Les citoyennes du cyberspace.
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay is a Montréal-born artist working predominantly in video, text and sound. Since 2000 his work has brought together song, self-reflexive performance and lyrics from pop music as vehicles for examining the singing voice, the untranslatability of emotions into language and the ways in which emotional expression changes shape when mediated by technology and popular culture. Nemerofsky Ramsay’s work has screened in festivals and galleries across Canada, Europe and East Asia and has won prizes at the Hamburg Short Film Festival, the Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest and the Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen (all in Germany), the Toronto Inside Out Film and Video Festival as well as First Prize at the Globalica Media Arts Biennale in Wroclaw, Poland. He currently divides his time between Canada and Europe.
Photos from the event