The upcoming multimedia Fuse party at the Vancouver Art Gallery takes the ubiquitous Canada 150 foofaraw and turns it artfully on its head.
Curators Sherry J. Yoon and Jay Dodge are calling the event Fuse: 2167, asking all its performers and artists to look back on the present from the vantage point of another 150 years into the future.
The resulting array of installations will drive viewers to question what a future generation might warn or assure us about. Look for the Cloud Collective, whose Time Capsule invites Fuse-goers to imagine what they would say to their past selves, uploading and projecting the collected words. Elsewhere, in Stamped or Branded, mixed-media artist Connie Watts imagines a future where we identify ourselves in seven different ways, via temporary face “stamps” that visitors can get.
The imaginary time warp stems from a larger, climate-change-minded project called Encounter that Yoon and Dodge have been exploring with their theatre company Boca del Lupo. The theme—asking artists to make sense of today’s missteps as “future historians” with the luxury of hindsight—has opened up rich, ongoing possibilities, Yoon explains.
“It’s offered a framework for artists who don’t want to tackle climate change in all of its massiveness,” says Yoon. To explain, she quotes from Sea Sick, Alanna Mitchell’s solo play on climate change at the 2015 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival: “She’s got a line where she says ‘Scientists collect the answers but it’s the artists that will make sense of it.’ ”
In one of Fuse’s central performances, local journalists, playwrights, activists, and professors will take to a podium on Robson Street to deliver short presentations from the perspective of 2167.
“All the futures that people present are really different,” says Yoon, who first developed the idea at the Dublin Theatre Festival with Ireland’s Performance Corporation. “One sees Canada as part of the U.S. by then; another sees Canada as a national park.”
Theatre can engage an audience in ways a news article just can’t, she adds. “When I read a Guardian article [about our environmental crisis] I feel really sad. I don’t want to talk to someone about it. But here in this theatre setting we’re able to handle it in a way that’s not about solving things, but feeling inspired.”
At Fuse, that inspiration comes in a multitude of forms, from Heiltsuk artist Shawn Hunt’s interactive, holographic mask to a Radix Theatre experiment with human-controlled extreme weather. The Performance Corporation imagines the future of food amid our climate crisis with a show called The Table. And Felix Culpa actors offer tours of the technology-and-nature-minded VAG exhibit Persistence, looking back on it from the future. “They may be responding incorrectly,” Yoon warns. “They’ve lost a big part of their history. Sometimes we’re wrong about what is true and factual in the past.”
There is much more across the four floors and roof pavilion of the gallery, from DJs to audio-visual installations—a party that provokes deep ideas about our existence, but a party nonetheless.
Fuse: 2167 is at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday (June 30).