by Farah H. El-Afifi
I don’t think any one of us really knew what to expect out of Go8. I remember us awkwardly shuffling around Satellite Gallery on the first day, not knowing exactly what to do with ourselves. Eventually, we sat in a circle near the elevator and went around introducing ourselves. I could immediately tell that everyone there had so much to offer. Almost instantly we dove into the art world heads first, but we didn’t have to feel lost because we were guided every step of the way by people who were incredibly informed and ready to answer all of our questions. Every tour, presentation, project, and lecture was different and taught things we most probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It’s hard to think that the Go8 program lasted less than a week because we everyday was so packed with new information, new experiences, and a new perspective on art.
One our first day, we attended a presentation on art intervention by Jaspal Marwah, which helped us notice that art can be accessible to everyone, made out of anything for any purpose, and can be used to positively change our community. Then, Micaela Kwiatkowski (someone without whom we’d have been completely lost!), opened us up to the world of performance art. She introduced us to artists like Marina Abromivic, from whom we’d learn the strength, creativity, and determination some works require. My favorite portion of the day, personally, was our own private tour of Satellite Gallery (practically our second home for the duration of the program) and The Mainstreeters: Taking Advantage, 1972-1982 exhibition that was on, because not only could we relate to a youthful art collective creatively expressing themselves in a sometimes unimaginative world, but our tour guide (Curator Michael Turner) helped us to see the pieces in all their different lights and truly understand the purpose, methods, and spirit of the art collective. Personally, I’d seen the exhibit before but not with nearly as much clarity as I did with the opportunities that I got from attending Go8.
We ended the day with a lecture on games and audience participation in art with Zoya Mirzaghitova. Now, simply listening and attending these presentations had already taught us so much, but what really made the day special was the fact that we got to implement everything we’d learned. We got the chance to take part in our own art intervention/performance art/game when we walked to Pacific Centre and stood in two rows and silently made eye contact with the person standing across from us. Literally, we were doing nothing. The reactions we got proved otherwise. Some people smiled at us, others stopped to ponder us, and some actually backed away in fear. It’s pretty amazing how much we learned and did in less than a whole day.
If I were to tell you every activity we did every day of that week, this little article would get a bit too long for either of our liking. However, I think it’s evident that the time we spent during Go8 was not even remotely wasted. Throughout the rest of the week we got to meet real local artists, visit galleries, and explore other aspects of art like curating, collecting, and modelling. Finally, we were able to combine our own ideas and our personal experiences to create an art piece that could display us (literally and figuratively). A Stranger Thinks I Am was our final project, in which we portrayed the complexity of the human being in that we are not limited to what Strangers think of us and should not confine ourselves to snap judgements when meeting others.
Overall, Go8 was an incredible learning experience and I’m sure if any one of us had the choice, we’d do it all again. Thank you to everyone involved and to the Satellite Gallery for providing us with all these exclusive and matches opportunities!
-Farah H. El-Afifi, Heather Paynter, Ruby Li, Téa Rawsthorne, Julianne Herbert, Esther Lin, Nathan Ma, and Vittorio Chiu (Aka, The Collective)