PuSh Rally Curatorial Statement
January 01, 2021
Hey. It’s hard to know where to start. We agreed to join the PuSh team as Rally curators after the organizational changes that happened internally in the spring and early summer of last year. Those changes were hard. They profoundly affected the lives and careers of long-time colleagues and friends: former Artistic and Executive Director Franco Boni, former Associate Artistic Director Joyce Rosario and former Audience Services Manager Janelle Wong-Moon. All three were, in different ways, instrumental in crafting the COVID-altered program you will experience at Vancouver’s beloved mid-winter festival in the wake of this mind and life altering year.
We said yes to programming the Rally because this Festival has been central to the development and success of our work and careers. Between the two of us, we have created a dozen or so shows that have been presented at PuSh. When the Festival was founded by Norman Armour and Katrina Dunn in the early-2000s, none of us imagined it would become a place where Vancouver audiences would soon experience a dizzying annual array of international performances, and that Vancouver artists would soon be using it as a platform to launch their work to theatres, concert halls and festivals around the globe. But that’s what happened.
We also said yes because we saw an opportunity. The pandemic’s intense pressure exposed institutional cracks, not just at PuSh, but in organizations across the cultural sector and around the world. In the words of long-time PuSh partner Erin Boberg Doughton, Co-Director of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, this is, “a season of reckonings.”
Reckoning and the conflicts that produce it are critical components of good art-making. They call us to engage with what we don’t know, what we haven’t experienced or faced before, and what may frighten or challenge us. What if we, like so many of the artists who are part of the Rally, try to embrace that conflict, and lean into what Rally guest speaker Sarah Schulman, playwright and author of Conflict is Not Abuse, provocatively describes as, “the pleasure of discomfort?”
What if we all take a breath together, and consider what it means to be practitioners of an art form predicated on physical presence that is maybe starting to emerge from a global pandemic, while at the same time finally beginning to grapple openly with its own complex and compromised relationships to privilege, difference and race?
What might that mean for the future of this Festival, for live performance, and maybe even — in the tiniest of ways — the world?
Welcome to the 2021 PuSh Rally. Thanks for joining us.
Marcus and Maiko