Project I – Proposal
September 16, 2008
EXPLORING THE BORDERS OF “NORTH CENTRAL”, REGINA
The project I am developing is to investigate an area of Regina known as “North Central” located in the inner city, or core area. The recent media attention ignited by the MacLean’s Magazine expose written by Jonathan Gatehouse, and the subsequent responses in the Leader Post, which came from civic government and Regina residents , caused a furor in the city. The finger is pointed at the social and economic conditions of the area which was named “Canada’s Worst Neighborhood” by Gatehouse.
I plan to set out to artistically respond to the perceived sociological and economic boundaries attached to North Central through a series of investigative, interactive and performance events. My focus is not to sensationalize the “urban fright” of the area, nor to sugar-coat the reality that there are sociological and economic issues to be addressed. Rather, I intend to investigate what North Central means to the residents within the geographical borders that define the area, as well as what it means to those who live outside the area, threading together information that will inform my questions, thoughts and experiences around the demographic boundaries pertaining to the north central area. This project plans to explore the area’s culture, and by speaking to the people who reside and work there, will inform and humanize North Central and therefore it is hoped to reintegrate the concept of this area as an integral and important part of the city. Rather than defining a boundary around the area, condemning it through sensationalist media, or ignoring it altogether, it is the responsibility of Regina’s community as a whole to build on an understanding of what is happening and to change our thinking and approach to the issues of these perceived borders, whether geographical or stigmatized, whether from a personal perspective, or a community view, or addressing the social and economic conditions that may exist.
My first plan of action entails a video-based project in which I will interview members of the North Central Community, gathering as much information and feedback about the area that I can. I will also do a video investigation outside the North Central boundaries to broaden my scope of research.
Exploring the Borders of “North Central”, Regina
The performance piece will amplify the idea of a physical boundary around North Central by placing a yellow “caution” tape around what may be considered the “skirts” or “borders” that will divide North Central from the rest of the city. This symbolic act will provide a visual reference to the perception that North Central is a danger zone and is therefore a separate entity of urban life within a sociological barricade.
My intent is not to enforce a negative perception or to give it more power, but rather to bring an awareness of the area’s boundaries through visual means in order to create a dialogue around the issues of concern. I hope to have people reflect on their connection to North Central and to the city as a whole. Video documentation of me putting up the yellow tape will be captured and used in the final production along with a spoken word statement, bring context to the piece.
When the interviews, footage and work come together as a video, I plan to display the piece as an outdoor public projection in a North Central location (possibly on a street wall). This public installation will act as the collective representation of my work. The goal of the project is to gather input and experiences, and collage them together to create a piece of art that allows the public to speak to the public about the city.
AFTERTHOUGHTS, THE FUTURE, AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
In high school, I collaborated with two fellow students to build a permanent legal graffiti wall where artists could come and freely practice street style art. A series of fundraising events took place including three successful hip hop shows that yielded a profit of $3,000.00. Despite the funds raised, and the press this project received, the wall was ultimately rejected by the City of Regina, perhaps due to the stigma of graffiti-art as an illegal activity, as well it has been used as a potent tool for vandalism. I have a personal history as a graffiti artist and the illegal and guerilla activity it presents in public spaces, as well as the trends and politics it has endured. My goal was never to discredit or change the natural essence of graffiti art, but rather to provide a space for artists to have fun making public art.
Exploring the Borders of “North Central”, Regina
The money that was raised has sat untouched while I thought of ideas of what would be the best use of it in the art world. At one point I considered donating it to local graffiti artists who may get legitimate commissions, but this would mean that only a small percentage of artists could participate. It was the idea for the North Central project which sparked an exciting idea for the funds to be used for a more community-based art project.
I am planning to have some contact with representatives of the North Central Community Association and teaching staff at Scott Collegiate regarding this art project, and in loose conversation that I have had with people I met at the Fall Festival, they would welcome a “graffiti project” in North Central. I will plan for this event and my intent is to donate the funds to a North Central art project.
I intend to work on this project throughout the semester, aiming to have the outdoor installation/projection ready for mid November. In addition, I am planning some supplementary extensions of this project for the final critiques. For the first set of critiques for September 23rd, I plan on having a body of work in progress to show (interviews and footage of my performance).