All-womxn electronic-art fest Current roars into Vancouver for second year

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      Current, Vancouver’s first feminist electronic-music symposium, returns for its second year of programming from Wednesday to Sunday (July 25 to 29)—this time with the hopeful theme of “Dream of a New Future”.

      “I have been in music, electronic-music, photo-direction, and those sorts of rooms, and I’m always the only woman,” Soledad Muñoz, co-producer of Current, tells the Straight by phone. “So to dream of a new future means one where women, women of colour, and non-binary folks are in charge, and are in all of these different places that we are not occupying now.”

      Launched last year to great success, Current offers a safe space where womxn—an intersectional term that encompasses transwomen, persons of colour, and those who identify as genderqueer or non-binary—may come together to share art, film, and music, and ultimately, build culture in an industry that is overwhelmingly dominated by men. It does this through an all-womxn lineup of more than 30 artists, performers, speakers, and others, who will present exhibitions, workshops, panels, and youth mentorships at various Vancouver venues over a five-day period.

      Like with 2017’s inaugural iteration, attendees at this year’s festival can expect shows from some of Vancouver’s top electronic-music talents, such as Goo, Venetta, Zam Zam, and Liliop. They’ll be accompanied by international DJs Stud1nt, Maria Chavez, Swan Meat, and Reverend Dollars, who will take to the podium at sites such as the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, the Red Gates Art Society, and Eastside Studios.

      The program also includes a number of practical workshops that offer introductions to electronic-music gear and audio programming in Max/MSP. Such sessions are meant to level the playing field in the electronic-arts industry, notes Muñoz, where some folks may lack access to costly equipment or software. “That’s kind of what we’re aiming for: equity and difference,” she says, “so no matter how different you are, you still have the access to possibilities or to learning about programs that otherwise would be super expensive.”

      New to Current is a film screening presented by local womxn-led artist collective Gena, and a gallery exhibition by Muñoz and writer Jamilah Malika that will explore the relationship between word and sound. All events are by donation; proceeds will benefit next year’s Current and may be redistributed to nonprofit organizations in the local electronic-music, film, and arts communities.

      Changes in civic policy are key to dreaming up—and creating—a more diverse and inclusive future in the electronic arts, so Muñoz, along with Current co-producers Ashlee Luk,  Nancy Lee, and Alexandra Chen, have taken care to organize three panel discussions that will emphasize intersectionality, address issues related to accountability, and provide tools for victims of sexual harassment and assault. The insights and concerns expressed during these talks, which will involve nonprofits such as Good Night Out Vancouver and the Battered Women's Support Services Association, will be communicated as recommendations to the City of Vancouver as part of the Creative City Strategy initiative.

      “Although all art and culture, in and of itself, seems like a progressive plane, that’s not the case at all,” says Muñoz. “It has the same marginalization as any other place, so we really want to talk about that and how we can improve it.”

      Above all, Muñoz hopes that, by simply witnessing so many womxn artists, writers, musicians, and so forth coming together to share their talents and knowledge, those feeling disenfranchised in the industry will find inspiration to chase their own dreams. “You can create culture from a community level,” she says, “and that makes you feel empowered to continue doing it.”

      The Current Feminist Electronic Art Symposium takes place from Wednesday to Sunday (July 25 to 29) at various Vancouver venues. For details, see event listing.