by Danaan C-J and Mara I-G
Imagine having only 5 days to experience all of Paris. In not even one week, your task is to soak up the city’s entire history, to visit every one of its famous sites and monuments, and by the end of the week, to have immersed yourself so completely in Parisian culture that you will have come to the point where you can call yourself a local. Now picture being given the same task, but applied to the Vancouver art scene. Welcome to Go8.
Go8 (though starting out as Go10 and then regrettably morphing into Go9) has just wrapped up another successful week of wackiness, fun, and public art interventions. The participants made up a small but diverse group of students in grades 11 and 12 from across the city. We enjoyed five action-packed days visiting galleries and studios, being enlightened by the timeless wisdom of local artists, and collaborating as a group before unleashing our final project on the streets of Vancouver. Writing about each individual endeavour we undertook this past week would probably end up turning into a 20-page essay, so for the sake of our collective sanity, let’s keep it short and sweet by highlighting only some of the main events.
We participated in several workshops throughout the week that ensured we will never look at art in the same way again. SoJin Kim introduced the idea of art interventions on the first day, and we soon found ourselves in the heart of downtown Vancouver, lying upside-down on couches or being wheeled around on a dolly pretending to be the Queen. Didier Morelli led an interactive and playful workshop that involved crawling around a park on all fours. A game-creation workshop with Germaine Koh took place on the fourth day; here we flexed our muscles, creative and otherwise. Catherine Grau and Zoë Kreye guided us on a romp (also known as an “unlearning walk”) through Holt Renfrew, which culminated into our lamentable eviction from the store: a courageous endeavour in the name of art! In addition to performance-based art, we were given the chance to create our own visual artwork during a 2-hour life-drawing session at Blim and an afternoon spent madly cutting, pasting, and doodling to create mail art: fantastic postcards that were then sent to various downtown businesses . . . even the post office itself!
Throughout the week, we planned, plotted and prepared our final project. After a quick lunch on Friday, the team set out to launch “Operation Art Box”. Battling adversity in the form of foul weather and a dissociated public’s lack of enthusiasm towards public art, the group struggled on valiantly in a way that would make a used-car-salesman proud. Camouflaged under a flotilla of bright umbrellas and armed with paint brushes, this battalion of box-clad warriors and their paint-bearing allies were determined to bring art to the people, even of the people were more than a little unsure of themselves.
The offensive began outside Satellite Gallery. We made our initial attack marching up Seymour Street to disperse into three units and spread out across the seemingly unfamiliar territory. The first objective of this operation was to alert the civilians as to the importance of art in their day-to-day lives. This was done by employing two main tactical strategies: the double-box cornering move, and the hugely amusing shuffle-chase (certain limitations to the technical design of our box-shaped armour made running and climbing stairs slightly problematic). The trick, we art-warriors soon learned, was to appear as harmless and non-aggressive as possible, all the while using key offensive tactics (blocking doorways and occupying street corners) and underhanded manoeuvres (approaching young children, who tend to be more susceptible than their narrow-minded parents) to achieve victory over the drudgery and despair of a life without art. With a little help from the 2014 Super-Mega-Charming-Smile-erator, a secret weapon at our disposal, we completed our mission successfully, returning to HQ (560 Seymour St.) with a colourful array of now-painted boxes that were subsequently displayed outside the gallery for the public to view and add to.