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Constructing voices : a narrative case study of the processes and production of a community art performance Miller, Lorrie Anne 2002

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Constructing Voices: A Narrative Case Study of the Processes and Production of a Community Art Performance by LORRIE A N N E MILLER B.Ed. University of Regina 1990 M . A . University of British Columbia 1995 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Curriculum Studies: Art Education) We accept this thesis as conforming the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A ©Lome Anne Miller, April, 2002 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) A B S T R A C T C o n s t r u c t i n g Voices is a narrative case study exploring the experiences of young women as they participated in a major public art performance project. I followed the process and production of Turning Point and Under Construction over the course of one year. Under the direction of American performance artist and educator Suzanne Lacy, this Vancouver, Canada based art project and performance sought to empower participating young women; to help them fin their voice and to provide them with a forum so that they might challenge and alter public perception and stereotypes of young women in the mass media. Seven young women from Turning Point and three local organizers, including the project and performance producer, have offered their narratives to inform this study. Together, they take us behind the scenes of a huge and complex community art project and performance. Their stories help us find meaning amidst the contradictions inherent in art productions of this magnitude. I approach this inquiry from a constructivist paradigm, informed by postmodern feminism. Through this research I call for a collaborative art practice which is reflexive, critical and egalitarian - one in which power is shared and where representation is determined by those whose lives are displayed. To inform our future artistic and educational practices, we need to turn to those pedagogical frameworks that best correspond to the intended goals of the projects. In the case of Turning Point and Under Construction, we need to look to feminist, emancipatory and performance art pedagogies. Only by informing our practices in this way, can these projects provide the opportunity for individuals to achieve a heightened engagement with their world - to learn through currere. In this narrative case study, we hear from young women at turning points in their lives. They believe what they say has value and should be heard by others. Performance art has the potential to be a rich site for learning so long as the process is congruent with the goals of the art project. As art educators we can respond to these narratives in our practices by providing environments for learning where participants/learners can find their own ideas and voices while expressing themselves in personally meaningful ways. ii T A B L E OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T i i T A B L E OF CONTENTS i i i A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S vii PREFACE viii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION: STARTING POINTS 1 Learning to listen -Learning to speak 12 CHAPTER 2: SUZANNE L A C Y : DIRECTING F R O M THE SIDELINES, A N D THE WORK OF OTHER PUBLIC ARTISTS 26 Suzanne Lacy 26 'Other' Public Artists 43 Criticizing Modernist Public Art Production 45 Environmental Concerns 46 Equality 51 Representation 55 Consideration of Site and Context 60 Content for Creation, For Learning 61 Learning Experiences 61 CHAPTER 3 BETWEEN THE LINES - BEHIND THE SCENES 64 Theoretical Grounds: Between the Lines 64 Feminisms 68 Feminism 70 Feminist Pedagogy 71 Postmodernism 79 Emancipatory and Critical Pedagogy 81 Performing and Reporting Research 83 Voice 87 Research Narratives 91 Mystory 94 Study Specifics: Behind the Scenes 96 Access 96 Scenes 98 Study Participants 106 Researcher - Participant relationships 107 Interviewing 108 Data Collection 112 Inductive Data Analysis 113 Summary 114 Significance of the study 116 CHAPTER 4 NARRATIVES: TURNING POINT A N D UNDER CONSTRUCTION: LISTENING A N D TELLING 118 Turning Point: One Narrative at a Time 119 iii Barbara 120 Description of Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 120 Experiences 121 F e m i n i s m 121 Reflections and Opinions 123 Role of the Artist 124 Nature of art 125 A u d i e n c e 125 Success and evaluation 126 Heather 128 Description of Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 129 Experiences 129 Roles 130 Reflections and Opinions 130 Growth and learning 131 Nature of Art 131 C o m m u n i t y 132 Success and evaluation 132 Frieda 133 Description of Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 133 Experiences 134 Early workshops in 1996 134 Soundtrack 135 Roles 135 Reflections and Opinions 136 Voice and Empowerment 137 Growth and learning 138 Ownership 139 Closure and follow-up 140 Success and evaluation 141 Audrey and Hildegarde 142 Description of Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 142 Experiences 143 Reflections and Opinions 144 C o m m u n i t y 144 Voice and Empowerment 144 Growth and learning 146 Ownership 147 Closure and follow-up 148 Success and evaluation 148 Alix 148 Description of Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 149 Experiences 150 Roles 150 Reflections and Opinions 151 C o m m u n i t y 152 iv Reflections on Alix 's own art practice 152 Community-based art 152 Process and Product 153 Goals and commitment 153 Growth and learning 153 Success and evaluation 154 Emily 156 Description of Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 157 Experiences 157 Emily Carr Workshop 158 Roles 158 Reflections and Opinions 158 F e m i n i s m 159 Growth and learning 159 Process and Product 161 Closure and follow-up 162 Success and evaluation 162 Post-performance Narratives 166 Elizabeth 166 Experiences 166 Emily Carr Workshop 166 Zines 167 Roles 167 Reflections and Opinions 167 Growth and learning 168 Process and Product 169 Closure and follow-up 169 Success and evaluation 170 Reflection: Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 170 Juliet 171 Description of Turning Point 172 Experiences 172 Roles 172 Reflections and Opinions 173 F e m i n i s m 173 Growth and learning 173 Audience 174 C o m m u n i t y 175 Process and Product 176 M e t a p h o r 176 Role of the Artist 176 Closure and follow-up 177 Success and evaluation 178 Reflections'. Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 178 Chaara 179 Experiences 180 V Reflections and Opinions 180 F e m i n i s m 180 Representation 181 Growth and learning 182 Process and Product 183 Closure and follow-up 183 Reflections: Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 183 Success and evaluation 184 Nick 185 Description of Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 185 Experiences 186 Growth and learning 186 A u d i e n c e 187 Ownership 188 Process and Product 188 Closure and follow-up 189 Reflections: Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 189 Success and evaluation 190 Post-performance Reflections: A Collection of Narratives 190 Excerpts form Turning Point: A F i n a l Report 190 Narratives: Really Listening 194 Audrey 194 Juliet 195 Chaara 195 Thoughts on Turning Point and Under C o n s t r u c t i o n : A Researcher's Reflection 196 CHAPTER 5 M A K I N G MEANING: COMING TO UNDERSTAND POWER A N D REPRESENTATION 198 Power: Strength in Numbers 200 Artistic Control 200 Collaboration 202 Artist working with girls and volunteers 203 Voice and Empowerment 206 Representation: Medium and Message 209 Reflections of Self - Opinions of Others 210 Zines - Self-expression 214 Representation - Turning Point 215 Representation - Under C o n s t r u c t i o n 216 Considerations of Textual Representation 218 Reflections: Implications for Future Art and Education Practices 223 Congruent Practices 224 Pause 226 EPILOGUE 229 REFERENCES 230 APPENDIX I 241 APPENDIX II 243 vi A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Rita Irwin who has guided me on this research journey. Her support and mentorship has greatly helped me to meet the diverse challenges of this project. I would also like to extend thanks to my committee members, Dr. Kit Grauer and Dr. Karen Meyer. Thank you to all of the women who generously gave their time and interest to participate in this study. Their contributions were essential. Without the stalwart support of my spouse, Graham Coleman, the completion of this thesis would not have been possible. I extend my warmest gratitude for his never ending belief in me that surpassed even my own. vii I am v e r y v e r y s o l i t a r y It would by nice to have a father figure. But, he's not a father figure so, I'm not going to waste my They expect so much. They never had a chance to be everyth but I just feel like the weight is... and they say it's all and they're just trying to help me the way they can.,.... and But... I feel so much pressure. It's not like you guys. W but they gave me everything they could. I can talk to my p everything. Like everything! They go to everything, any ki I have, they want to go. They're just like - the best. They support me in everything I do. But, I just feel so... My parents are more materialistic. Especially my father. He, quote "spoils us and so we won't have anything to loc Forward to." When emotionally I find my family... it's starved. j a m b a s i c a l l y l a b e l e d b y m y f r i e n d s a s a t r e e - h u g g e r £ > u t I'm o k a y w i t h t h a t . you think you are something to a person and then... you find out that you're not... I feel that one thing I haye control over is myself. (anonymous voices from soundtrack, Under Construction, June, 1997) v i i i ix PREFACE: JUNE 15, 1997: UNDER CONSTRUCTION After a two year creative process in a project called Turning Point, the one day performance Under Construction1 begins. The concrete shell of two towers hovers over the construction site below. A cement truck blocks the street from traffic. Hundreds of people line around the hot pink hoarding, trimmed with yellow caution ribbon. Construction sounds, mixed with electronic music, hum over the crowd. Girls in yellow and white hard hats, and orange reflective vests talk with the crowd. A crowd gathers in the church on the next block. A l l uncredited photos in this preface were taken by Lorrie Miller. One hundred-thirty young women sign-up, receive their tomato-red t-shirts with the Under Construction logo across the front, their performance packages and make their way to the chapel. Older women walk through the crowd organizing the girls into small groups. Most have never heard of this project before. Some don't even know why they are there, yet. One of the leaders gets up in front of the group and says, A performance piece is like a piece of theatre, and there is a lot of discipline in theatre, it's all timed. There are 'Appendix I (p. 241) offers a condensed timeline of the events leading up to Under Construction. cue sheets, there are people on sound... But now, I want to have fun. We don V need to be all strict with you guys, but it's a piece of theatre that your are involved in... The girls look around the room while squirming in their seats seeking direction. In recycled conference folders they find a list of discussion topics (family relationships, sex, media portrayal of young women, who listens to you?) an event program and a runner's tag, - the kind you wear while running a marathon, except without a number. The girls label themselves, choosing their own identity for the public, then help one another with their • • f f r r 1 -x «* labels. I look at the words they have pinned on themselves, some of them read shy, artist, outspoken, crazy, and on another kooky. The diverse group slowly blends into one large red blur of anticipation, excitement, and as time lingers on... The orientation activities completed, and with time to kill , one of the older women picks up the microphone and walks through the aisle of the x i church and interviews some of the young women. She asks them their names, why they are there and what they hope to do... where do they hope to be in 5 years. One girl stands up, takes the microphone and tells us Finally somebody cares about us, thanks, lets give them a hand... the crowd whoops and applauds. Another girl takes the microphone, F m Emily from Vancouver and F m twelve. Another girl stands up, F m Amy and you '11 know me twenty years from now because I will be famous. Sarah tells us that in five years from now she will be a social worker working with teenagers. Jessica is from Tsawwassen, she found out about the performance from TV. Another young woman stands up, Some of us here are single moms, we 're glad to be here. Others were graduating in the next year, their dreams of their future ranging from being a massage therapist to being a pop singer. One girl tells us that she was really shy and was afraid to be involved in such a big group, because I am A s i a n and was shy about being in big groups. But then it is so great to see all the different races in this group, and I am really happy. One girl speaks to the group in Hebrew, and another in Tagalog. Some of the girls sing for each other, the group applauds their songs. The energy in the room is pumped... a call comes in on the walkie-talkie... it is time. At the performance site girls in hard-hats and vests arrange 20 litre plastic buckets into new seating groups. Only half as many girls as anticipated have come. A video-crew hovers over the girls as they work. A few members of the audience try to get in... Elizabeth, a director girl, takes charge. They leave the set and wait until the show begins. xi i I look up to the centre of the building in between the towers. Suzanne Lacy, the artistic director, with Alix, her performance assistant, gives directions (via cellular phone and two-way radio) to the girls on the site below. There, Lacy has contact with the crew and the director girls. Outside the site, the crowd gets a hint of what is in store, as they watch live video feed on monitors placed in peek holes in the hoarding, f Audio reveals the girls' live chat to the waiting line-up. Sci-fi techno-construction sound and music is layered with voice. Ten girls in safety vests and yellow hard-hats carry signs and march in front of the main site entrance. Soft Shoulders, in black bold letters across a yellow caution sign, Juliet, a sign girl, turns it around, Sharp Mind. Stop reads another sign; the girl flips on cue, And Listen. The crowd watches as they file onto the performance site. i m C M X m M W « C A U T I O N MMUUUR x i i i I stand in the doorway. My black Turning Point t-shirt identifies me with the performance, but not red like the girls. I hand out programs and answer questions. The first wave of 200 will have about 20 minutes on site, in the zone behind the light wooden railing. From this vantage point, I can see clusters of girls in red sitting on white buckets in groups of four. They sit and talk though their voices cannot be heard. From where we are, we hear only the soundtrack. Voices blend in and out of the electronic music and techno-construction mix. Intimate stories of loneliness, loss, anger, achievement; voices of individuals, simply asking that we listen... Soft voices -wavering, pause... sigh. Another voice coolly describes moments of pain... xiv I am very very solitary / like my mom. I like my mom. She s a/ways going to be my mom, so I've got to work it out I k n o w t ha t o n c e I leave I can never g o back t o be ing a k id . Sometimes I feel like I hove control. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes Ifeel like I am imagining this control, but really, it feels like I have my parent's pulling the strings. And I'm just one of those dummies moving with those strings. I gm basically labeled by my friends as a tree-bugger. But I'm okay with that. My mom thinks she knows what's best, but she doesn't know what I want. We 're not close at all. We don't talk about things. I feel that one thing I have control over is myself. My parents are more materialistic. Especially my father. He, quote "spoils us and so we won't have anything to look forward to." When emotionally I find my family... it's starved. 'Jkeif. expect io muck. 7key, nei^ had a (diance to t& eve^f^^ wekfkt .. and they icuj, it i cdlf^ my own qood and they 'ie juit Uuinq to- kelp, me- tke UKUJ> tkey can... and 9] know- tkat. lint... 9] leel4& much pneMme. 9t'i not like ifou- quwi. IVe'ie not lick, hut they- qaoeme evenutiunq they could. 9] can talk to mtf- panenti almit ejjenuthwq. Jhhe eue^ufihinq! ^hey qo to eveufUimq, any kind oj^ event 9 ham, tJiey uxint to qo. ^heq-'nejuit like - tke Iseit. "Ibey iuppmt me in eveAqtninq 9 do, B>ut, 9 judt j^el io... It would by nice to have a father figure. But, he's not a father figure so, I'm not going to waste my time on him. you think you are something to a person and then... you find out that you're not... (anonymous voices from soundtrack, Under Construction, June, 1997) XV The crowd shuffles, quietly hanging onto the words in the emotional mix of story and sound. Across the site on large stacked blocks of concrete, sit pairs of girls talking while painting each other's hands with henna. Frieda takes one girls hand, holds it in hers. Their lips and bodies reveal a conversation. She dips a small stick into a cup and marks the other young woman's hand and wrist. She takes her time, concentrates on her work, looks up at the other woman, then back to her work... To the far west side of the site, a team of trades women lead girls in coveralls, hard-hats and gloves, as they empty paper sacks of Portland cement, adding water and sand... They mix. Twenty minutes pass, some of the audience has trickled out already, the rest are now lead out as the next group enters. Sign girls come onto the site and help to usher the audience. Some wait for it to start. They don't realize that it never stopped... Directly across the floor, on a raised platform sittheVIP's. Barbara watches the years of hard work; anticipation and anxiety play itself out in an afternoon. The girls talk below us. Hundreds look on. xvi Hildegarde, Audrey and Chaara walk around the floor in red shirts and decked out in A / V recording gear. They move slowly from one group to another, quietly recording the conversations. Elizabeth looks a little flustered. She talks to a woman beside her. They both look up to Lacy while talking on the radio. Elizabeth looks back to the group she is directing, then up again. There seems to be some minor issue at hand. Two girls in her group look back to her... One puts her hand up... Elizabeth walks over to her... Nick directs another group. Things are quiet, she stands nearby in case Lacy changes direction, or the girls need to take a washroom break. Emily sits in another group seemingly engrossed in conversation. She stays seated with the same group until it is her turn to go to the henna area and have her hand painted. Lacy gives a signal, girls and volunteers spring into action. The second wave is directed out. Those people lined up behind the final wave of 200 have been told that they won't make it in. Many have already left. The third wave is ushered in. The performance continues. Girls rotate from hand painting to a bucket grouping. The concrete mixers begin to pour concrete into wooden frames. Twenty minutes go by. The final audience is ushered down to the floor. xvii They walk among the girls. Now they can hear the conversations that the others were only able to see... I see my sister, Heather, with Akask and Wolfie, my sons. They head straight to the concrete mixers. Girls place their hands into the poured moulds, leaving their print. I leave my post to join the audience on the floor. The audience mills around and through the seated and working girls. They no not engage with them. I talk with Elizabeth to see what kinds of reactions she has had from audience members. Elizabeth: Okay, like what is going on here, can you explain this to me? They asked me. And other people saying, Is this it? Is this? I had one woman say, Someone up there is l a u g h i n g at me, I'm going. This is r i d i c u l o u s ! I responded with You can wait Jive minutes and listen to the soundtrack and maybe that will complete your picture. She said, No, I'm going. I think that most people got it in terms of the soundtrack. When I was trying to move people along (on the way out for the next wave of audience)... a lot of people were like, we were trying to stay still and listen to this really powerful soundtrack. So a lot of people I talked to did get it. This (with the audience on the floor) feels really different. This is it - what it's all about! (Int.: PD, 3.2) I talk to some audience members myself to see what kind of a response I get. Some of them knew a little about the project from someone they knew from within the project. Others weren't prepared for it at all. Woman A: I've never seen anything like this before. I like h a v i n g the outsider view to their conversations, seeing them speaking freely amongst themselves. I felt that brought a lot of respect from the older side that don't usually... that don't have that much respect for the younger side. Woman B: I think that it is powerful. We were standing right next to the speaker and just let ourselves settle into what they were saying and just not moving a r o u n d and not waiting and just being present was really nice. E v e n now, (on the floor) it is too scattered for me. I get lost in the snaps and scatters, walking around... but to be able to stand present, watch them, listen to the stories. It was nice, but a lot more powerful when it was still, rather then streamed through. F o r me I needed to have it still, silent, or silent visually, so that the stories could r u n through. xviii Woman C: The sound was really well put together. It was one of the strongest elements. Woman D: My first impressions are...Ijust like seeing this group ofpeople, the amount of young women that I see, in proportion to other people is really refreshing. I really liked h e a r i n g their questions and their queries because they have such fresh voices. It was wonderful h e a r i n g them amplified because they are at the age when you become self-conscious of voice. A n d so to hear them amplified was very poignant, because it is often that voice that's often not heard in the media, and generally in the arts or literature or anything like that. It's just beautiful. It's gorgeous. Man A: My impression. I think that a major part of it was actually getting the girls involved in something like this and actually doing it. Not the performance part of it, but actually doing it, the process of it. In terms of the performance, it's not like regular art, like some types of art where you go and you look at it and it inspires you in some way or you are awed by it. It was very different than that, not that it shouldn't be awe-inspiring. Instead, it makes you think. I am very c r i t i c a l of art in general and artists. I think about the effectiveness and how it might have been more effective. I think that it was a good idea to have the stages, to have the numerous things throughout the past two years rather than just a one shot deal, to have it more ongoing. It is a good way to make a social statement. Because that is what it is doing. A l l types of art are consequences of the artist's position and the social structure that they live in. A n d I guess this is another example of that. (Int.: PD, 3.4-4.5) The crowd slowly started to leave, the soundtrack ends... the performance is over. I spent my previous year being with and talking to xix girls that had been intensely involved in the project. I took a few moments to speak with, and listen to a couple of girls that were new that day. I wanted to know what they thought about the whole thing. Outside the performance site, near the cement truck, is a canteen, just shutting down. In front are two girls in the tell-tale red shirts. I had never seen them before, it was safe to assume that they were new... The first girl piped up, I liked it a lot. We had no idea (of what it was going to be about). (Now) Just to learn things. We just talked about issues. Different things. F r i e n d s , school, work, jobs, sex. That kind of stuff. I see you got your hand painted. I say to the other girl. Ya, she says, they were doing henna. You just sat there. So, I asked, D i d you talk while you were getting painted. She tells me: No, the girl that did it was in my group, and we already talked about everything. One girl's mom ran the canteen. She urged them back to work. I had a wrap party for the girls to organize. Time for me to leave as well. I bid them a good day. I was left wondering why were they there? Were they merely more bodies to put red t-shirts on and warm a bucket? Were they there for the aesthetic impact? Or were they there so they could express their voices and be heard. Were they there to challenge stereotypes? Unfortunately, they weren't prepared for the performance anymore than most audience members. I needed to ask the core girls how they felt about this. Did they get any more from this performance event than these two young women? Or, was all of the benefit in the process of the project, which these two had missed? XX On June 15, 1997, the art performance Under Construction was Turning Point's grand finale after two years of development. Californian artist, activist and educator, Suzanne Lacy, was first brought to Vancouver by the Vancouver Parks board to a conference in 1993. She returned in 1995 when she was invited to the Women's in View Festival. It was then that the idea of producing a large Vancouver-based project with Lacy emerged. A working group of youth workers, educators, media makers, youth and others, invited Lacy to join them to develop: • a public artwork, using a process of engaging diverse constituencies around issues identified by us and which we believe will be accomplished by the following means: • Networking with people working in schools, Parks and recreation, and other departments of the city and public and private organizations to identify issues and develop policies and public awareness; • A mass media intervention, fuelled by media awareness and media literacy workshops; • A large scale public art performance designed by the participants working with artists. For us, the process of coalition and community building is an integral part of the artwork. Similarly, the mass media aspects are designed as a public face for the art. Pulling the whole process together, a final performance serves as a celebratory ritual that brings the diverse themes and people together in a public site. But it is this networking and community building, the support of gender-aware policies and sensitivities, the mentoring and relationships formed, that will from the lasting legacy of this project. (Turning Point Overview and Mission, 1995, p. 1) xxi 9 j; Vnus 5 p r o c e s s - o r i e n t e d "a model of community cultural development" t t I r I zines n koldingkan<k_ airU "young women's integral role and ownership of the Turning Point. r S 5 yUf^A^dt^ J^^^ef . ^ i hand-painting, s t o n e s <? s * n t / I 2 CHAPTER 1: STARTING POINTS "(The Under Construction performance) will signal a desire by young women for an emerging presence in the public sphere, and it will model the community's intension to support that presence." (Draft artist statement, Suzanne Lacy, April, 1995) I described the afternoon performance, Under Construction, as I experienced it as a volunteer and as a researcher. The performance and the process that led up to it form the basis of this study. This study brings together the experiences of the young and older women who participated in a public performance art project, with my own experience as a researcher, in order to find meaning in these shared experiences. Some of the narratives shared here were stirred into being through reflections on memories, through conversations over e-mail, and chatting over lattes. Some of the stories have been told before. Some are told here for the first time as I write them into existence, mixed with the stories of others, and woven with other educational research. I have found through my reading and writing, that our personal and professional lives are inextricably interconnected. I have abandoned any attempt to deny this. Several years ago, during our first Christmas together, I received a most unexpected gift from my 'boyfriend' -now husband. It was heavy, yet tucked into a lovely floral patterned gift bag. It was the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9 t h ed. Today, as I flip through the pages, for the umpteenth time this year, I find the word: cur-ric-u-lum /kA ' n kjulam/ n. (pi. cur-ric-u-la / la/), cur-ric-u-lums) 1 the subjects that are studied or prescribed for study in a school (not part of the school c u r r i c u l u m ) . 2. any programme of activities, curricular adj. [Latin = course, race-chariot, from currere 'run'] (Oxford Dictionary, 1995, p. 330) Fascinated with the etymology of words, I only find currere as a Latin root, not as a main entry. Yet in my curriculum texts, it has become a commonly used term, with meanings grown from its origin in Latin. Curriculum theorists and researchers (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery & Taubman, 1995) have asserted alternative forms of curriculum and education research, that adhere closely to currere. C u r r e r e "focuses on the educational experience of the individual, as reported by the individual" (Pinar, et. al, 1995 p. 414). As an autobiographical self-report, currere "communicates the individual's lived experience as it is socially located, politically positioned, and discursively formed, while working to succumb to none of these structurings." (Pinar, et. al, 1995 p. 461). C u r r e r e is grounded in context. As a research method, currere "offers the opportunity to study both the 3 individual's lived experience and the impact of the social milieu upon that experience" (Pinar, et. al, 1995 p. 416). C u r r e r e is a heightened engagement with one's world, not a retreat from it. A shift from c u r r i c u l u m as a 'course of study' to currere 'running of the course' provides an opportunity for a person to "experience his or her past, imagines his or her future, analytically locates both accounts in his or her present, amplifying it multi-perspectively and temporally" (Pinar, et. al, 1995, p. 578). C u r r e r e , it would seem, lends itself to those situations that are also temporal in nature and deal with the content of one's lived experience. Currere is precisely the type of learning experience I thought of and sought to be a part of when I first heard about the Turning Point project. It was to be a collaborative community-base feminist art project ending in a public art performance. At the center of the art project and performance was to be the experiences and voices of young women in the transition between girlhood and womanhood. Seeing as performance art is also temporal in nature, and in this case, deals with the lived experiences of participants: currere was a natural fit. Performance artist and educator, Charles R. Garoian (1999) also claims that there is a strong connection between performance art and currere. Betty Ann Brown (1996) reminds us how "women artists have built community by speaking, moving through all the vulnerabilities of self-revelation, and encouraging others to speak." She also reminds us as to how difficult it is to speak out alone. "Women need to speak with". She goes on to say that "it is when we find spaces of truth, spaces for speaking with that change can happen. To create such a space is the impetus for the feminist art of community building" (p. 157). At the helm of the Turning Point project and performance Under Construction was internationally renowned performance artist, Suzanne Lacy - pioneer of contemporary community building art (Brown, 1996). The conditions as described in the project seemed to naturally lead to experiential reflective learning. There was the opportunity for individuals to learn about their social environment, to learn about each other, to question their own lives, to challenge others' perceptions of them, as well as to learn first-hand about performance art and art with a social public message. Participants had a chance to gain various skills, and build relationships. The Turning Point project 4 was to culminate in a large scale public performance, Under Construction. This performance would draw together the previous two years work in a one day public celebratory event. In this public venue the voices of the girls would be heard, their issues would be raised and stereotypes of young women would be challenged. The assumption that this had what it took to be a successful and empowering project is supported by former art event participant and writer, Betty Ann Brown (1996) as she tells us of her experience in an earlier event: I realized I had forged important and lasting friendships through the work leading up to and culminating in the performance event, and that the community of such friendships would not have been possible without the shared goal/shared labor of this artistically identified and crafted event, (p. 161) From my experiences at Lacy's lectures, watching produced videos of some of her projects and reading other accounts with similar sentiments to Brown's, I was enthusiastic about the possibilities that this project seemed to hold. From August, 1996 through to August 1997, I participated in and documented the development of Turning Point and the performance, Under Construction. These experiences provided me with site for this case study, and the basis of my doctoral thesis. Turning Point proved to offer many opportunities for learning for participants in the project and performance. My primary goals were to examine the production process of this particular performance art project and to understand and interpret the experiences of study participants as they relate to this project. What emerged from my own experience in this project and through the analysis of research data, was the undeniable importance of power, voice and representation. Turning Point's goals were to empower participating young women - to give them voice. Though my research goals were not emancipatory nor empowering in nature, I sought to learn about an art project that aimed to emancipate and empower. Turning Point intended to critically engage its participants in self-reflection, self-discovery, and ultimately, empowerment. I thought I would leave those goals to the art project and then learn about the process from watching and engaging in it. Throughout the art project and this study, I learned that there is simply no easy way to report on the complexities within the lived experiences of individuals. I also 5 realize that regardless of my intensions, I am implicated through my connection to the project and through my actions as a researcher. Through the analysis process and visiting new relevant literature, I found the work of Charles R. Garoian (1999). In his book Performing Pedagogy he describes Lacy's work as embodying emancipatory postmodern theory. "The praxis of postmodern theory, performance art espouses the critique of cultural codes and the development of political agency. A pedagogy founded on performance art represents the praxis of postmodern ideals of progressive education, a process through which spectators/ students learn to challenge the ideologies of institutionalized learning (schooled culture) in order to facilitate political agency and to develop critical citizenship" (Garoian, 1999, p. 39). Garoian states that Lacy's community-based art practice is emancipatory pedagogy and the praxis of postmodern theory, therefore, I looked at Lacy's modus operandi from within the frameworks of performance art, critical and feminist pedagogies. I also found that I needed to look at the relationship between the medium and the message while considering Marshall McLuhan (1961) as Lacy claims that her performance's content -the participant's stories remain the participants'. Lacy also claims authorship over the image of the final product and control over the aesthetic. Suzi Gablik (1991) considers authorship and tight aesthetic control as elements which reside within the modern paradigm. In this study I ask, what might an emancipatory performance art project look like, feel like, be like? Gesa Kirsch's (1999) words informed the ways in which I think about reporting on this study, and how I now think about feminist research. I see this study as another step in my growth as a feminist researcher. Kirsch tells us: The politics of interpretation and representation are particularly vexing for feminist researchers because they so often hope to empower the people they study and to improve the conditions of their lives. Yet, inevitably, researchers are implicated in the process of speaking for others, potentially silencing them. And in this silence, representation can become misrepresentation, the reinforcement of unjust power structures and institutional hierarchies. But the effort to make feminist research emancipatory, non-hierarchical, mutually beneficial, and collaborative raises some critical questions. How can we ever know (and predict) whether the results of a research study will benefit women - that is, whether it is truly for women? Who chooses emancipatory goals and why? Whose desire is it to empower? What does the desire to empower others say about researchers? Unless we learn to ask these questions and become reflective and self-critical, we 6 are in danger of imposing our desires, our goals, and our worldview upon others, despite and against our best intentions, (p. 46) Performance art projects hold immense potential for being sites of learning. We can learn from Turning Point and Under Construction to better inform our future practices. Past education research has focused on girls' experiences in various school environments (Barbieri, 1995; Brown, 1998; Calvert, 1997; Eyre, 1991; McGinty, 1999) girls self esteem, self-perceptions and youth culture (Holmes & Silverman, 1992; Kearney, 1998; Taylor, 1995). Research has also examined the under representation of women role models in school curricula (Gaskell & McLaren, 1991; Holmes & Silverman, 1992; Sadker, 1995). The artistic representation of women has been prevalent in the tradition of Western Art history, but women artists have been under represented in our history books and in art criticism (Hess, 1995). Ann Calvert (1997) calls for a gender equal art curriculum where girls are exposed to artist women role models, and examples of art work that falls outside main-steam art production. Researchers have also examined the gap between controversial contemporary art and school art (Jeffers & Parth, 1996). Turning Point and Under Construction are projects that can be considered both outside the mainstream, as well as controversial. Carol Jeffers and Pat Parth (1996) drew upon the experiences of students and teachers as they visited controversial contemporary art exhibits. They found that the students' and teachers' experiences could be characterized as "heightened awareness of controversial social and sexual issues, new ideas, materials and processes, themselves, and their own perceptual and conceptual shifts. These experiences suggest that when it is logistically accessible, controversial contemporary art also is conceptually accessible to students and teachers" (Jeffers & Parth, p. 24). Such learning experiences need to be investigated. I believe that Turning Point and Under Construction, where young women work closely with a contemporary artist, can also provide the type of opportunity which can bring about a heightened awareness of issues. Deborah Smith-Shank (2000) has focused on giving light to women's experiences, as she has drawn upon the visual memories of elder women. Smith-Shank gives the tales of elder women respect as they recall their lives' events. Smith-Shank 7 considers these visual memories as "a way to facilitate exploration of what is important to the older persons themselves, to help them gain life satisfaction, and as a way to bridge the gap between the life experiences of generations" (p. 189). In the study of Turning Point and Under Construction, we also have the opportunity to listen to women's voices bridging generations, but this time we hear from the voices of youth. Women's experiences of all ages need to be considered worthy of investigation. Women in education has also has been a topic of research. We have learned about the interest of women as adult learners (Bellamy & Guppy, 1991; Hayes, Flannery with Brooks, Tisdell & Hugo, 2000; Jackson, 1991; Rockhill, 1991), as educators (Coffey & Delamont; 2000; Irwin, 1995; Irwin & Miller 1997; Weiler, 1995), and as women recalling their own youth learning experiences (Miller, 1995; Smith-Shank, 1998, 2000). In a typical school setting, Sue McGinty (1999) studied the experiences of five young women with life obstacles that usually hinder ones' success. McGinty sought to find out how these young women managed to become academically successful. Through her ethnographic study, she found that the young women, despite their disadvantages, wanted to do well in school. The women identified their own needs and sought support that they felt they required. They made and kept supportive friendships and built alliances with sympathetic school staff and faculty, to assist them with their school success. They also tapped into the school resources, such as the school guidance services. This research focused on strategies used by some disadvantaged female youth in order to academically succeed. McGinty (1999) found that most of these young women held additional financial, and emotional familial responsibilities because they were young women. They couldn't rely on their parents for academic support and ended up emotionally supporting their parents, in some cases. Although this added to their overall stress, it also provided the young women with some sense of autonomy. They had to make things happen for themselves. They were responsive to "opportunities offered them at school, which enabled them to be seen as successful" (p. 141). "The young women realized that by being in the limelight of a leadership position, acting in a play, or 8 holding an official position in a club, they were becoming successful in the eyes of the school" (p. 141). The girls believed in themselves, and in a brighter future. Some had experienced success in elementary school. A l l of them had memories of mentoring teachers who believed in them. While at times they needed to distance themselves from the troubles of their immediate families, their extended families sometimes offered helped. Relationships with academically inclined friends and sensitive teachers were seen as vital to the girls' success. It didn't appear that the content of what was taught held as much importance as the teacher's willingness to 'cut the slack' when things were tough. McGinty places the onus on schools to open up the ranks of 'the successful'. In a more academically nurturing environment, Maureen Barbieri (1995) tells of her teaching and learning experiences teaching seventh grade literature and writing in a private all girls school. She found her students, these 'good girls', were filled with self-doubt and were preoccupied with what others thought of them. Through her teaching, Barbieri found a way to reach these girls and help them to find their voices and to confidently express their thoughts and feelings. Barbieri was sensitive to the content in the literature often presented in schools in which girls or women play peripheral roles. "Reading books that feature the achievements of men, girls receive another lesson in second-class citizenship" (Sadker, 1995, p. x). In Myra & David Sadker's research they found that when they asked students to "list twenty famous women in American history (not counting entertainers and athletes), few can name even five." (M. Sadker, 1995, p. x). These findings are also supported by a Canadian survey of youth, conducted by Janelle Holmes and Elaine Leslau Silverman (1992), in which they found that: Women are virtually invisible in the list of public figures young people consider important or interesting, and whom they would like to speak or visit at their schools. Only 4% of the athletes named are women, only 8 of the 44 authors are women. Women make up just 14 of the 60 'famous' people, 31 of the 200 singers, and only seven of the 100 political figures whom young women would invite to their schools were women; three of them were, in fact, politicians' wives, (p. 62) When again teaching in a co-ed classroom, Barbieri found herself, to her dismay, having slipped into the 'gender trap'. "Boys, it seems to me, will find ways to get what 9 they need from the system; it's the girls who are in the greatest danger of slipping away from us, quietly, unobtrusively, politely slipping away" (Barbieri, 1995, p. 226). From her research, and her teaching experience, Barbieri calls teachers to action: We must be proactive in finding out who they really are, what they really need, and how we can lead them to it. Drawing girls out, valuing their tentative ideas, and supporting their speculations will continue to be my highest priority in classrooms. Their "I don't know's" are all too common, whether they are alone or with boys, but we must not let such insecurity go unassuaged. The girls are not... "okay," just because they are cooperative; indeed their very cooperation is often a symptom of the danger they are in academically, psychologically, and socially. If we truly "don't know," it becomes incumbent upon us to wonder, to search, and finally to discover. But often, as I learned at Laurel [private girls' school] and my new school, these girls do know; they need their knowing validated. Nina speaks for all girls -those who are underground, those whose voices have been trained to polite docility, and those who in their hearts resist society's expectations -when she says with such vigor, "I have a really good idea." (p. 226) Jane Gaskell and Arlene McLaren call for equal representation in the classroom. "To make schools 'girl friendly' involves, among other things, representing female experience in the curriculum. The most straightforward index of women's omission from the curriculum is a count of various indices -the number of female characters in elementary school readers, the number of female authors on the reading list, the number of women mentioned in a history text" (Gaskell & McLaren, .1991, p. 224). Researchers have found the curriculum and school texts often lacking representation of the female experience. There is also a lack of artist role-models through there is a pervasiveness of young woman as subjects in much of Western Art history. The Geurrilla Girls have been quick to point out women artists still have not found equality with their male counterparts in the world of art exhibition. Although women make up the majority of fine arts students in colleges, universities, and art schools, they still remain under-represented in solo and group exhibitions. "Thanks to the Girls, dealers were embarrassed into representing a few token women in their galleries, and all-male shows are getting harder to find (Hess, 1995, p. 331). What happens when a group of girls are in an all-girl environment that is supposed to empower them, nurture them, and provide them with opportunities to lead along with the chance to be mentored by women role models? In the Turning Point 10 project, young women were introduced to women artist role-models, and embarked on a journey of self-discovery, and empowerment. The project's goals responded to the calls of feminist educators and curriculum theorists. This was a project whose focus was the female youth experience. The project was to be peer-led, as well as mentored. This combination also responds well to calls for the importance of autonomy, and mentoring relationships with one's teachers, or role models. I had expected to witness the girls as they became self-empowered and truly found their own voices, and were finally heard. This seemed like such and ideal learning environment. I wanted to see this project be a success. If one is working with participants in an art project where their stories and experiences make up the content of the piece then we need to be respectful and cautious about ones intentions and actions. Kirsch (1999), who writes about doing narrative feminist research, makes suggestions that I believe also apply to doing collaborative feminist art. Kisrch says that "when we decide to speak for others, we should be certain to share the reasons for our decision with readers [audience]. A l l the while, we should aim to include the voices of others more actively in our research by consulting with them. Assuming interpretive responsibility would mean not only presenting voices in dialogue, but also providing readers with access to the process that shaped the dialogue [or provide the audience with the process that shaped the art piece or performance]" (p.85). We must ensure reflexivity within our own practices. In order to get closer to engaging in ethical research and I would add to this, ethical and truly collaborative art, we must be willing to be self-reflexive and self-critical. Artists, though, not necessarily acting as researchers, often deal with narratives and life experiences of their participants, and as such, they too should be reflexive in their own art practices. Reflexivity as the act of "reflecting upon and understanding our own political and intellectual autobiographies as researchers [collaborative artists] and making explicit where we are located in relation to our research respondents [art participants]" (Mauthner & Doucet, 1998, p. 121). Throughout this thesis, I have attempted to make explicit the reflexivity of my research process. 11 Chapter 1 is my personal introduction as a researcher. It is my hope that this will provide a lens for my readers through which to understand the factors that brought me to this study in the first place and the influences that informed some of the central issues. Chapter 2 places Turning Point in context of Suzanne Lacy's body of work, and in context of a selected review of collaborative community-based art projects. This provides the reader with an insight to the types of subject matter, and artistic practices used by Lacy and her contemporaries. Chapter 3 describes the constructivist orientation and methodological foundations for this qualitative study. Feminist principles are woven throughout this narrative case-study, and inform methods of data collection, interpretation, analysis, and representation. Chapter 4 focuses on interpretations of Turning Point and Under Construction - a personal record of the day's events. The primary focus of this chapter rests with the experiences of youth .participants, as well three older key participants as primarily told through transcribed research interviews. Here, I include a personal narrative and visual description of the performance event, Under Construction. Chapter 5 brings together the key issues present in the study, and juxtaposes them with related literature, field-notes, and reflections in order to find meaning in their collective experiences, as told through narratives, written texts and other collected data materials. It also provides a place for reflection on this study; a discussion for the implications for theory; implications for artistic practice, and also implications for research. Learning to listen - Learning to speak "We are not just one single person, a unitary author, but rather a multitude of possibilities any of which might reveal itself in a specific field situation." Lincoln (1997, p. 40) I have kept track of my years in university through the ages of my children. Akask was three months old when I started my masters program. Wolfie was eighteen months old when I began my doctoral program. They are now nine and seven and half years old. Chloe will be eighteen months old when I finish. She won't recall a time when her mother was a student. The boys don't know a time when I haven't been a student. 12 Many things about my personal life have crept into my research. My sons frequently accompanied me during research interviews for my Masters thesis. They were often present during interviews and observations for this study as well. We live multidimensional lives with numerous responsibilities. Yvonna Lincoln (1997) reminds us how our "multiple selves feed into the writing or performance of a text, and multiple audiences find themselves connecting with the stories which they are told" (p. 38). Gesa Kirsch (1999) calls for researchers to "go beyond making facile statements about our identity and begin the admittedly difficult but important analytical work of assessing precisely how these personal factors affect our work, how they enable certain perspectives and blind us to others" (p. 80). It is my intention that the explicit inclusion of my experience within this study and reflections on my writing of this report will open additional discourse and make more connections to a wider audience. Kirsch tells us that situating ourselves in our research is an important step in "rethinking traditional research procedures" (p. 83). For more than a decade feminist along with constructivist researchers have called for researchers to acknowledge their positions within their studies. By including relative anecdotes, prose of our researcher's lives, we become part of the shift away from a "paradigm of supposed objectivity, neutrality, and distance to one that is invested in the generative value of researcher's identities, values and experiences" (Kirsch, 1999, p. 77). It is often from our personal experiences that we come to care about particular research problems and engage in specific types of research methods. By advocating for researchers to open themselves to similar scrutiny that we ask of our study participants, and by revealing parts of lived experience in my research, I find that I am in good academic company. Through my review of literature, and second literature review following my study, I was delighted to find so many researchers who have engaged in reciprocal story-telling and have called for an end to the invisible author. Some of the authors informed the manner in which I conducted my study, while others have influenced how I have come to report on my research. Some of these authors include: Maureen Barbieri (1995); Leslie Rebecca Bloom (1998); Lyn Mikel Brown (1998); Norman Denzin (1997); Carolyn Ellis & Arthur Bochner (2000); Carolyn Ellis & Leigh Berger (in press); Mary Field Belenky, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule 13 Goldberger & Jill Mattuck Tarule (1997); bell hooks (1990); Rita Irwin (1999); Joe Kincheloe (1997); Patti Lather & Chris Smithies (1997); Yvonna Lincoln (1997); and Kathleen Weiler (1995). Merely embedding my stance in the study or providing a descriptive list of adjectives and group memberships is insufficient. Instead, I have chosen to be explicit about where I stand, and who I believe I am at this point in time. I have attempted to reveal various aspects of myself as they are "uncovered and identified as a part of the REPAIRS M A D E T O S P A C E C R A F T The image above was from a local publication, This Week, Tuesday, June 1, 1987, p. 17A. intense reflexivity which now marks postmodern ethnography and text-building" (Lincoln 1997, p. 40). By doing so, I hope to "help readers understand (rather than second guess) what factors have shaped the research questions at hand; it also helps ground the research report in a specific cultural and historical moment" (Kirsch, 1999, p. 14). As a feminist art educator who believes adamantly in public education, I am partial to community-based public art projects. I believe there is an inherent value in public art. Successful public art is truly accessible, not selectively accessible in corporate towers, but physically accessible to the general public. I believe in the education of 14 youth. I believe strongly in the mentorship of young women. I find collaborative work to be very rewarding, whether team teaching, developing a project, making art, or planning the backyard play-space for my children. Working with a partner on a project where each brings unique ideas and strengths, can be extremely rewarding. I attribute my interest in community-based, activist, public art projects to a single summer. It was the summer following my first of four years at the University of Regina where I completed a Bachelor of Education in Arts Education. It was the summer of '87 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Part of my summer job was to co-develop and deliver arts programs in Wakamaw Valley. Two co-workers and I decided to participate in cleaning some of the debris from the Moose Jaw River. Although underway, the cleanup was nowhere near completion. We wanted to blend the cleanup with an arts project. Although we advertised for adult public participation, we specifically recruited children and youth to participate. We also invited Joe Fafard1 to be a guest artist in this project. We were thrilled that he agreed. Fafard's presence drew more attention to the program and to this particular project. At an invincible nineteen years old and just one year of university under my belt, I was an eager, yet apprehensive participant. Really, what can we do? I thought. A l l we had were an old beat up car (previously dredged from the river), a 3m wide satellite dish ' Nationally and internationally recognized, Joe Fafard is best known for his large realistic grazing bronze cows located in downtown Toronto and Regina, as well as a bull in downtown Vancouver. He is also known for his bronze figures of well known celebrities: Diefenbaker, Queen Elizabeth, as well as Vincent Van Gogh. Fafard is from a farming community located equidistant between Moose Jaw and Regina. He now resides in Regina, Saskatchewan. Sl^vtMrO r*o« STUDENTS VOLUNTEER TO PAINT MURAL. ton family motor launch which ojiciatcd on JJffoaee l i t t le by bale and bit by kit, Wakamow Valley is turning into a beautiful tourist attraction tor Moose Jaw The Wakamow Valley Authority is improving the old River Park urea on a gradual scale Last week, a group of volunteer student got together to paint a mu ral on the cement wall of the train trestle near tke sun shelter In the top phyto. painters got to work one morning and by the next afternoon, most of the work Jaw River in Uie early IsHMs. measures at) feel high by 17 feet wide. The painting was organized by Wakamow heritage educators Shauna Swanson, Lome Miller and Alayne iiagal They are joined in the photos by Moose Jaw high school students, Heather Miller, Stephan Pat-terson, Penny Rodgere, lla Tanna. Jill Tollcfson Acton, lion Blondeou and Uraine llama (lus Kroese and Rob Photo and Story credit: Leslie Shepherd, This Week, July 15, 1987 p. 17A 15 (dredged out of the river for us by a city crew) and a concrete foundation from a demolished house. We had hopes for our drag stuff from the river and build sculpture out of it project. We hoped we could raise public awareness about pollutants still in the river while engaging in a creative endeavour. Was it successful? In some ways yes and other ways no. We completed what we had set out to do. There was plenty of local media coverage and community participation. However, I was less than satisfied with the resulting temporary installation that consisted of a painted wrecked car and a satellite dish turn spaceship. Looking back, and going over the final reports from the project, (I can't believe that I still have them\) it is clear that we didn't analyze the results of the project at the time. I wished then that it had looked better. Looking at the project now, I don't think the final product really mattered all that much. What really counted was the process. Having said that, the crudeness of the finished product hasn't affected how I now feel about the project. Another memorable project from that same summer was a mural facilitated by Moose Jaw artist, Gus Froese. We brought a small group of teens together from across the city and painted a mural representing a historic scene on a "graffiti prone" concrete wall of the train trestle. Gus Froese guided our little group through the ropes of constructing a 17'x 20' mural. We finished the painting of "The Edith" (an early 20th century river boat, operated by the Plaxton family) in less than three days. In the Monthly Report, Alayne Sewell states that the final product was impressive and the teenagers were amazed with their accomplishment (July, 1987). The sponsors and the city were also very impressed. For more than a decade, only the extreme prairie seasons marked our mural. We last saw the faded mural in July 1998 while on a family vacation. When we returned to Moose Jaw in July 2000, all that remained was a freshly painted grey wall. The lower handrail that once underlined the names of the participants was raised to the level of the rest of the rail along park pathway, leaving us only memories. I felt a little sad about the loss of the mural, as it always brought me a sense of pride. I had hoped that the wall was simply being prepared for another painting project. It was about time. 2 As I had hoped, summer 2001, Gus Froese and a walking group of older men (who call themselves the 'Grumpy Old Men') painted a near replica of our 1987 mural. "The Edith" has a second life. 16 My friend and co-worker, Alayne Sewell, went on to work for the City of Moose Jaw in the Department of Art, Recreation and Culture and initiated an ambitious mural program. "The Edith" proved that heritage murals would be welcomed by the residents. Moose Jaw now boasts 27 new murals, part of a heritage program. This was the beginning of my interest in public art. My interest and involvement continues. From April to July, 1998,1 was a participant in a feminist, community-based art project titled H o u s e of M i r r o r s . A group of women with personal histories touched by eating disorders, and issues around body image were lead by local artists and project coordinators. Together they produced an art exhibit at the Roundhouse Community Centre, that addressed issues surrounding women, eating disorders and body image. The process involved five small groups including one artist leader and four or five participants. Our canvasses were five, 5' mirrors. Each of the groups addressed different topics in their work. Some of the topics included: "the lies we were told," "swallowing those lies," and "telling our truths". In our group we had a ten year old girl, a twelve year old girl and us older girls, aged 30 - 50. We had a wide range of artistic and life experiences that filtered through the mirrors. We focused on "telling our truths". It was a series of mixed media panels that talked about personal healing, strength and sharing stories. Besides making works of art for an exhibition we formed a wonderful working group. I was delighted to have been part of such a creative and generous group of women. It was a unique experience for me as I met with another woman in our group who also wore a back-brace as a teen. Because I have scoliosis, I spent four years wearing my 'cage'. This was something that I hadn't thought about for many years. But Postcard from House of Mirrors Exhibition, 1998. 17 through this creative forum, we added our different yet relevant experiences to the collection of distorted body perceptions and reactions, and recovery. Although my demons are rather ancient, it was wonderful giving them a little exorcizing. The show was well received and will be re-mounted in traveling education tours. These experiences tell how 1 first became interested in collaborative forms of art production and how I try to continue my personal involvement in them. It is this interest in collaborative, accessible and personally engaging art that brought me to this study. The art project Turing Point is the site of this inquiry. Its artistic director is internationally renowned performance artist, Suzanne Lacy. In the second chapter, I will describe her artistic background to better place Turning Point into the context of her body of work. Primarily, Turning Point dealt with the life experiences young women from Vancouver. Turning Point set out to give voice and to empower young women. This subject and intent drew me in. I wanted to believe it was possible. I wanted to be there to help, and to witness it happen. It is work that I believe, so desperately needed to be done -empower our youth. There is no need for them to remain silent, on the contrary, there is need for them to speak out. They deserve to be heard. Because most of my study participants are young women I found it necessary to reflect on my own adolescent feelings about feminism (Women's Lib - as a child in the '70s, a teen in the '80s), I recalled that feminism, for me, meant non-feminine. Born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the eldest of four and on the verge of being a woman, all I wanted was to be feminine, strong, but sexy. After all, I grew up with the Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman, and Jamie Summers - the Bionic Woman - the first female cyborg. Images of free-love (if only in images) filled my TV's two channels. Feminism wasn't represented in those heroines, for me feminism meant hard-edged, in-your-face, no make-up and certainly not liking boys. That definition of feminism didn't fit the description of the women that I knew growing up. I had been exposed to many strong independent women, not flawless, but strong. My mother and her friends were long time and founding members of the local Transition House, a shelter for battered women and children. 18 The things that occurred at "the House" on a daily basis embodied concern, care and action toward the improvement of women's living conditions. The House was an informal coming-of-age place for the young women in my family. Many of us spent at least one summer working at the House with the children who where staying there. It was wonderful, sorrowful and eye-opening. Still, I don't think I ever heard the term feminist. They were too busy doing it to talk and write about it. The work of Janice Ristock and Joan Pennell (1996) on self-defined feminist collectives in Canada included rape crisis shelters, sexual assault centres, and shelters for battered women and emergency crisis hostels. These collectives often held a common goal: to provide a safe environment for women in need (along with other situationally appropriate support services). Yet, the participants did not agree upon a single definition of what feminism means. This didn't surprise me, as I noticed during my work-time at the House, philosophical discussions about feminism didn't occur. Discussions were about survival and improving the everyday existence of women in need. Now, that isn't to say that those conversations didn't, or don't happen, I just didn't see it. I have clearly identified my own underlying assumption that being a feminist is a more desired state of being than not being a feminist. My spouse is a feminist man with whom I try to parent our sons and now our daughter to be empowered youth. I live my assumptions, but feel that they must be stated within this context. I have explored various ways to tell the stories present in this thesis. I hope to present diverse ways of knowing and acknowledge pluralism, by using narrative prose, visual texts and layering narratives, analyses and research literature. Yvonna Lincoln (1997) tells us that "the idea that we can think consciously about presenting and representing the stories we tell proffers an enticing invitation to think reflexively and self-consciously -not just about he fieldwork we do, but also about the means we choose and use to relay our fieldwork tales to audiences" (p. 38). Norman Denzin (1997) describes various forms of performance texts researchers have been experimenting with over the past decades. One form in particular that resonated with me is what he calls the "mystory". "The mystory is simultaneously a personal mythology, a public story, and a performance that critiques. It is an interactive, dramatic performance"(p. 201). These 19 montages may include elements from the writer's personal history that are written, visual, cinematic, and auditory. "The mystory text begins with those moments that define the crisis in question, a turning point in the person's life" (p.202). Since my inquiry focuses on an art performance whose subject is the collection of stories of young women, I have considered developing a performance text to present this investigation as I search for meanings in the narratives and experiences surrounding the art performance. Through reflection on possible representations of the inquiry, I return to story-telling. Not the type of linear story-telling with a clear beginning, plotted dramatic action leading to a definitive ending, but more of a narrative montage, a mystory (Denzin, 1997). As I read about mystories and autoethnographies, I considered how I have desired to present my research to various audiences. Within restrictions of presentations, including time and location, any attempt to present the 'whole story', reduces it to a personal myth. Whose story am I telling anyway? At best, I can present a brief excerpt from mystory that may achieve verisimilitude with others experiences in the art performance, that may resonate with research experiences of my audience. Sometimes, while presenting my research I have felt that I am telling a group of friends about my adventure, perhaps of a vacation, as I flip through illustrative slides, and add commentary to broaden the picture for them. In between the slides, or excerpts of video, I tell of my thoughts, reflections, research methods and analyses of the inquiry. After the slide-show and talk, there is usually a discussion where audience members ask about 'what happened when...?' or 'did you consider such-and-such?' or they add to my story with 'theirstory' of a relative event or experience. Other times while presenting my research, I have felt that 'they -the audience-don't want to hear mystory, they expect something tidier, more definitive than what I may be offering at the moment. My doubt creeps in, I wonder "maybe they don't care, maybe they don't believe me..." It is then I feel exposed, vulnerable, exposed, small... I feel my own silence coming on. I recall my first day of kindergarten. I was four. I was small. It was there I learned how to be silent. 1971, Ross School, old brick building, hot crowded classroom.. Mom walked me to school that day. Me in my new haircut, bangs short, straight across my forehead - new glasses hexagonal ovoid, tortoiseshell - new 20 shoes, black, buckles, tight on my toes. I was four and a half (when half years counted). My mom was a babe, all of 23. What was she thinking? We sat around low tables. Kevin Best -the pest -kept changing seats to sit beside me. I kept moving away. He had a buzz-cut, such a nerd. He liked me. We used to be friends, that was before school started, before I knew anyone else. We had just moved into the neighbourhood. Mrs. Bazinski was my teacher. She had us play games, tests of sorts. We had to stick small plastic coloured pegs into a perforated white plastic board. We were supposed to stand up as soon as we had completely filled our board. It was a race. I was quick, really quick. I was first. I stood up quickly too. Mrs. B. came over, my heart pounding. She took my perfectly filled plastic board. "Sit down, " she told me. I sat. Then Lenny finished his board. She chose him to be the first child finished, the winner of the race. My heart sank. " What's going on? " I thought. "I'll show her. I'll be first next time too. " For the second test-game, we each received a piece of paper and a fat wax crayon. Mine was green. We were to draw a solid circle on the paper by making concentric rings in the centre of the paper, tightly spiralling outward. Okay, so mine got a little loose near the outer edges, but so did everyone else's. I was first again. More abruptly this time, she ordered me to sit back down. Being finished first didn't seem to matter if you were a girl in that class. I was never to be picked for being first. I don't remember ever having fun in Kindergarten, even now as Hook back through the luxury of time. I'm glad, however, that I stood up to Mrs. B. I knew that I had seen a turtle as big as a dog (even if it was a tortoise). I knew that it was big enough to sit on. I had sat on it at the Calgary Zoo the summer before I started school. When I told her about the turtle, she told me that I was lying and that I should stop making up stories. My mom was there. "Why didn't she say something? " I wondered -1 wonder. "She knew the truth, she was at the zoo too. " I thought that perhaps Mrs. B. was right, maybe it had all been a dream. I doubted my memory -myself. When I asked my mom about it, she gave me a black and white glossy photo of me sitting on the back of this beast of a 'turtle'. I took the photo to school. "So, what do ya say now, Mrs. B???" I thought to myself as I silently handed her the picture with my quivering little hand. When I could hold back no longer, I blurted out, "I told you so." She shoved me aside, literally pushed me away. My mom was there that time too. She didn't say anything. I don't know why, she doesn't either. This story takes me back to my four-year-old self where I learned about fairness, power, and silence. I shared this experience with my mother. I recently asked her about this memory. She also recalls it much this way. She questioned her silence and her awe 21 of authority. After all, Mrs. B. had also been her brother's kindergarten teacher, and her mother's teaching colleague. She assures me now, that she knows she should have said something. But then, she was so young and unsure of herself. I also shared this story with a journalist friend of my husband and me. Mo k spoke of how this story resonated with him. He told me that not only was he surprised at how personal this was for an academic writing, but that it made him think of his own silencing as a child, also in kindergarten. I was pleased with his response, as I had hoped to have this effect on some of my readers. If we can find moments in our own lives where our voices were silenced by another, then perhaps we can better understand those who are still silent. My reasons for including this anecdote of my first days of school are to explore and reveal my memories of silence. These may not have been my very first silencing experiences, but it is what I recall. I do know, it wasn't my last. I have found it impossible to deny the effects of silencing and recovery of voice. Throughout my graduate work, and in particular the work on my doctoral thesis, I realize that I am still in a process of recovering -discovering my voice. I believe that my acknowledgement of my own history of silence will help me to understand and to find meaning in the experiences of Turning Point participants, and the events that led to the performance Under Construction. What started out as an exploration of an art project has turned to an inquiry about voice, power and representation. We learn silence from observations and from our own experiences. Likewise, we can learn power and voice. Power comes in various forms. We may experience or witness power imbalances within our own gender, within our own socio-economic group, within our own intimate relations. It is not always easy to identify or to acknowledge these imbalances. We may want to deny that they exist, or even chalk them up to an anomaly. Within this story of an inquiry there are narratives of others, of me, and research literature. I have tried to weave these narrative strands together into meaningful understandings of experience and phenomena. It is not a single truth that I seek to reveal. But rather, I seek to present a story where layers of experiences and voices come together so that they might resonate with various audiences. In the end, I am the assembler of the 22 final text, and my voice is ever present throughout it all. This element in itself has caused me to consider my roles as a feminist researcher and writer. Issues of privileged voice and power are also present throughout this study. I have spent a great amount of energy and time thinking about representation: there is no right answer to how to best present this research. I have tried to be thorough, ethical and to give way to my creativity -kick the science habit, as Yvonna Lincoln (1997) suggests to her graduate students. "Breaking the science habit can only come when we have sufficient self-knowledge (read: reflexivity) to understand ourselves deeply, and to accept ourselves with all our fieldwork, collegial, and human frailties. When we can exorcise the academic writing, or at least view it as only one of the many languages of the self, we will see the self emerging textually" (Lincoln, 1997, p. 51). The methods we choose for telling our stories, within our research can vary. Along with my personal prose, I have chosen to include visual expressions on how I interpret my ways of working and of revealing. The mix of black and white clipped digitized photos of myself, interspersed with the words. If read them from top to bottom and left to right, they are: SEE, YOU, YOU, SEE, ME, BLINK, I, I, SEE, YOU. This translucent layer positioned over a layer of colour fields, arranged into a balanced planned pattern, that reads: you, see, me, see, you. Either layer can be viewed on its own or as telling part of the story. Or, they can be read together, each page referring to the other, engaging the reader in my dialogue. This still only tells a bit more of the story, adding colour to the picture, but still it is a partial and situated story. I have framed myself for the reader. It is an incomplete, yet multi-faceted picture of photo fragments of me from different moments of my life: one from a little weekend getaway with my spouse, one taken from as part of collaborative feminist art project where women photographed each other for the purposes of exploring our perceptions of our own bodies. The third photo was really just me pressing my face to the surface of my scanner while I made a birthday card for a friend. But, these aren't revealed in the slices of photos themselves (though now one may make a fairly accurate guess as to which one was which). What I have tried to say with this image is that I wish to reveal part of who I am to 'you' -study participants, and my audience. Any attempt to reveal my whole self, or 23 whole anything, is a modernist myth. Blink, the pause for reflection. I, eye engaged in reflection and reflexivity as I analyzed my own actions and assumptions about my research and writing practices. I have tried to convey the reciprocal watching of research. I see 'you'. I acknowledging that 'you' too see me. I -eye, see you, see me, see you -and on it goes. However, in this case, Turning Point, the watching is bounded by the event. It did come to an end. Yet the exploration of this experience continues as I reflect on and analyze the narratives and shared experiences. In this chapter I have tried to present a personal context for reading this thesis. I have included some of my basic personal information, along with the list of clubs I hold cards for (ie: parent's club, feminist wives' club, former Moose Javian and community art groupie to name a few). I have attempted to go beyond this list to provide my readers with some insight into who I am and what I stand for. I have included my experiences in community art along with a personal tale of silence. In the next chapter I will introduce to you the artistic director of Turning Point, Suzanne Lacy, and her body of work. 24 25 CHAPTER 2: SUZANNE L A C Y : DIRECTING F R O M THE SIDELINES, A N D THE WORK OF OTHER PUBLIC ARTISTS "Lacy's work is a "hard-to-describe hybrid art..." Moira Roth (1982, p.72) (Lacy's )"work is a performative curriculum because it opens a liminal space, within which a community can engage a critical discourse, a space wherein decisions are contingent upon the collective desires of its citizens, as well as an ephemeral space because it is applicable to the particular time and place for which it has been designed. Thus, for Lacy, communities are contested sites, and performance art is a function of community development." Charles R. Garoian (1999, p. 128) Suzanne Lacy Unconventional, explicitly feminist, active, grand... Suzanne Lacy's work involves making art with people. Where some public artists' "work involves sculpting with materials, Lacy says her work is 'sculpting with people and people's lives'" (Rebecca Wigod, 1997). Lacy is known for staging large scale productions that blur public and private domains. In order to more fully understand the context of Turning Point and Under Construction, I have compiled a selection of Lacy's earlier art works along with the works of other activist oriented contemporary artists. Performance art and community-based art projects described in this section are based on published critiques, reviews and essays. Although this review covers more than twenty years of artistic production, it does not provide a complete picture of these works. Details of projects and performances are primarily descriptive and give little information on the processes, on what happened behind-the-scenes. Lacy's work, as described by Moira Roth (1982), is a "hard-to-describe hybrid art which evolved out of Dada Futurist theatre; post-World War II experimental dance theatre, music, poetry and Happenings; the dramatic political life, rituals, and encounter groups of the 1960s and, for Lacy, the women's movement" (p. 72). Lacy (1996) tells of her feminist artistic roots in the late 1960s at the California Institute of Arts: "we began to develop a political art that was participatory, egalitarian, and reflective of both the personal and collective truth of women's experiences. We wanted art that made changes, either in its maker or its audience" (p. 784). Lacy's early sentiments on her passion for egalitarian art production, resonated for me with Turning Point goals. 26 Lacy, who identifies herself as a feminist, recognizes that there are numerous constructions of feminism. She sees pluralism within feminism as being detrimentally fragmented, and risks forgetting our history. "Activism is pitted against analysis, with clear cut art-world bias toward the latter, oddly similar to the art world's condescension to political and community-based art during the 1970s. [....] When theory is disconnected from activism it is robbed of its vitality -its life, some of us would say. Women artists have fallen into a trap of divisiveness. Each succeeding generation has bought the media's version of the previous one...." (Lacy, 1996, p. 786). Lacy claims that the result is that we have a loss of values and no sense of why we act or analyze. Performance artist and educator Charles Garoian (1999) positions Lacy, along with other postmodern artists, in opposition to modernist art's hegemonic discourses and practices. The function of subjectivity and agency for postmodern performance artists is the production of critical citizenship, civic responsibility, and radical democracy. Performance artists such as Rachel Rosenthal, Suzanne Lacy, Guillermo Gomez-Pefia, Tim Miller, Holly Hughes, and others problematize the exclusionary practices of the modernists, combining their interdisciplinary practices with intercultural investigations in order to expose the hidden agendas of the cultural mainstream." (p. 9) The political project of postmodern performance artists is the decentralization of authority by aestheticizing ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, race, and class distinctions. (Garoian, 1999, p. 10) In his work exploring 'performance pedagogy', Garoian (1999) describes the role of an artist, in a community-based performance, "like Lacy's, the artist functions as a mediator, soliciting ideas from community members and fostering their participation in the production of art works that see the vital interests of their community. The democratic principles of this performance strategy are further reflected by the documentation and dissemination of these community-based works through printed publications, videotape, and the World Wide Web, thus giving access to an even broader sector of the public" (p. 28). Lacy's work involves engaging numerous groups and individuals to form a coalition for the purpose of producing a final art performance. Holding Lacy's work as exemplary for performance art pedagogy, Garoian (1999) tells how Lacy brings together willing community participants, including policy makers, 27 business leaders, parents, teachers, youths and elderly in order to co-create a public project. As an outsider, she goes into (or is invited into a community) and engages participants in critiquing their own oppression. Garoian tells us, "As a feminist artist with a working-class heritage, Lacy understands cultural oppression... [Yet] her own identity in a community project is elusive. Although she manages, directs, and facilitates, she does so from the sidelines of a project, pulling it together. The purpose of her art is to make public the voice of those who are not heard" (p. 129). Clearly, issues of voice, power and representation, are deeply woven throughout her history of work. Yet, I am not certain why Garoian described Lacy as 'knowing' the meaning of 'cultural oppression' in any personal way. How can a highly educated, famous, (let alone employed), white American know what it means to be culturally oppressed? As a white educated Canadian woman, I would never claim to 'know' cultural oppression, no matter what I have been told by those who have experienced it. I can 'know of, but not 'know' as those who have faced oppression. This is merely an example of the dominant culture co-opting the phrase 'cultural oppression'. We need to reserve the meaning of this phrase for when it is appropriate in order that it maintains its meaning, and its potency. In her projects, Lacy delegates responsibilities to participants which are related to their particular skills, and directs their involvement. "As an accomplished artist, she assumes final authority over its imagery to ensure artistic quality, a criterion that is essential to luring mass-media coverage and challenging its stereotypical representation of the community" (Garoian, 1999, p. 129). Project participants have approval on the content of the performance, but they "must agree that Lacy retains full authority" (p. 152). According to Garoian (1999) "Lacy claims the problem of authority always comes up in one form or another, and she honestly tries to engage in it. [In an interview with Garoian, Lacy said] 'These are not workshops for teaching public art per se. (Instead) we are going to do a professional work together, collaboratively1'" (p. 152). Lacy assumes authorship for the final image, although she claims the central ideas remain with the participants. But i f Marshall McLuhan is right and "the medium is the message" then Suzanne Lacy has final authority over both. It is not possible to separate the authority of 1 This interview occurred concurrent with the Turning Point project and Under Construction performance. 28 the aesthetic image from the authority of the message. What happens to the integrity of participating voices? What happens to the final message that is heard by the audience after it has been sifted and refined through the artist's aesthetic filter and then mirrored back by media coverage? Ultimately who is heard? An essential aesthetic experience in Lacy's work is empathy as "it provides an embodied connection between the artist and the world" (Garoian, 1999, p. 149). Art critic, Jeff Kelly (1995) tells us that: Lacy is never sentimental about the lives or experiences of her participants. What she hopes for is the mutual creation of some common ground, which if it happens, usually does so in the wake of much debate, struggle, and - i n the final analysis -good faith. Empathy is not the appropriation of another's experience. It is an experience of appropriate connection with others. Lacy does not appropriate, but insists -sometimes quite forcefully -on the possibility of empathic connection. These connections are the "public" domain of Lacy's work. The body is their common juncture. Empathy is not a function of the mind over the body, but of the body as mind. (p. 249) Lacy's art projects are participatory and deal with the content of individual lives, with community dynamics and media representation. We also know that she does not overtly place her own story into these public co-productions. Though these works are usually called collaborative, it is not clear as to the nature of the collaboration. Issues of power and representation enter into discussion with her participants as she engages them in critique of their own oppression, and analysis of media's representation of them. Yet, little about their analysis and critique of her aesthetic representation of them in the context of the public performance. Within this context, framing her working practice, the following descriptions of Lacy's performance art will illustrate we don't know about the power dynamic that Lacy has inherently entered into with them. We know some the themes that have from photo credit: Robert Blakack, California College of Arts and Crafts; Oakland. (In Lacy, 1995, p. 252) 2 9 Lacy's community art performances that have been produces with various groups over the past few decades. Selected Art Works from 1977 - 1994 In 1977, Lacy collaborated with the Los Angeles Police Department and various other community organizations in the creation of Three Weeks in May. This project was comprised of thirty events held all across Los Angeles. This piece was focused on raising awareness of violence against women. Part of the project included a large map in which a red stamp marked the map each time a rape was reported. The L .A. map became a sea of red. Another map indicated locations of support services. Lacy says, "It was used as both organizing device... to bring people together from different anti-violence organizations and different political perspectives together on the same programs -and as a way to create public dialogue on rape and women's solutions for it" (cited in Josephine Withers 1994, p. 171). Press coverage was key to bringing this piece to a larger public forum. The importance of playing to a media audience is usually featured in Lacy's work. Lacy's engaged in an effort to raise public awareness about violence against women. She presented statistics about violence against women and listed public services available to those affected by violence. Lacy sought to bring change through public awareness via the media. That same year, Lacy collaborated with artist Leslie Labowitz and local women's groups to stage the performance In Mourning and in Rage on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall (Lopez &Roth, 1994). The performance was in response to the media's sensational coverage of the hillside strangler who had recently photo credit: Suzanne Lacy (Lopez & Roth, 1994, p. 150) k i l l e d n i s t e n m victim. Lacy 3 0 (1994) tells of how she and Labowitz "analyzed conventions of television news, deconstructed the gender representation in sex-violent news reporting, and created a performance that critiqued this construction even as it called for concrete action ... We attempted to subvert various conventions of sex-violent reporting -like focusing on the identity of the victim as an explanation of why the crime occurred -with both imagery and statements made during the performance" (p. 267). The performance began with a motorcade carrying fifty women, clad in black, from the Women's Building to City Hall. Once on the steps, nine of the women in black, wore towering head-dresses and veils. These towering women created an undeniable ominous appearance. Behind them hung a banner (designed to fit into a television screen) which read "IN M E M O R Y OF OUR SISTERS W O M E N FIGHT B A C K . One woman dressed entirely in red addressed the audience. "The women's terse text placed the Hillside Strangler case into a much larger continuum of male violence against women including wife abuse and incest" (Lopez & Roth, 1994, p. 151). Lacy used the media to extend the reach of her work to a broad audience. The work, overtly political, used the visual aesthetics with its staging and props to impress their message upon their intended public audience. A work like this would be very unlikely to succeed in a typical gallery space. One would not be able to count on the massive viewing audience, nor would the political message be as potent. To arrange a show in a significant gallery venue takes often a year's notice. Timing in this scenario was vital. The story of the Hillside Strangler was well covered by print and televised media. In order to reach the same audience that had been following the story, it was vital that the artists use the same medium for their piece. The motivation for the production was not simply an aesthetic one, it moved beyond the modernist aim of formal aesthetic properties, and into the realm of social change. Also in 1977, Lacy collaborated with Kathleen Chang to create the performance Life and Times of Donaldina Cameron presented in San Francisco. Dramatic readings and acted monologues involved the two characters, Donaldina Cameron, played by Lacy, and Leung Ken-Sun. Bhang created this fictional character modeled after Chang's husband's grandmother. Their performance focused on the experiences of young Asian women who unwillingly immigrated to California (often forcibly taken and enslaved). 31 Cameron hounded political powers for more than seventy years as she sought both political reform and legal guardianship of the women in her care (Stein, 1996). In 1978, Lacy, Labowitz, Ariadne (A Social Art Network - an affiliation of women in the arts, media, government, and feminist community) and other organizers collaborated to produce the first, Take Back the Night rally. In the San Francisco rally they staged a mass ritual performance after a F e m i n i s t Perspectives in P o r n o g r a p h y Conference. Lacy designed a float which trailed 3000 chanting women. Spectators saw a huge adorned Madonna on the float. However when the float passed, spectators were then faced with the gruesome carcass of a three-headed lamb stuffed and overflowing with pornographic text and photos (Stein, 1996, p.233). The performance concluded when twenty women in black destroyed the printed material and the march moved to its final destination while singer Holly Near sang "Fight Back." Take Back the Night rallies have become annual events in various locations throughout North America. No longer viewed as performance art pieces, they are gathering sites for urban women who gain strength in numbers and walk through an urban core at dusk. The battle to be safe in our cities has yet to be won more than twenty years later. Judy Chicago's Dinner Party is one of the most widely known examples of feminist collaborative art projects. The Dinner Party which opened at the Brooklyn Museum in 1979, also provided impetus and setting for Suzanne Lacy's International Dinner Party. On the opening night of the Dinner Party, Lacy orchestrated to have over 2000 women dine together world-wide, in various sized groups to honour women of their choice. Judy Chicago also provided Lacy with a working model for large scale art projects. Where Chicago produced objects of art on the grand scale, Lacy produced art events. Later in this chapter, I will look further at Chicago's artistic practice and some of the critique surrounding her work. Eating within a community may not form a work of art, unless of course that is the intent of the meal. However, in many of Lacy's art projects, gatherings around tables, either for eating or talking, has often been featured. Her performances take common domestic scenes and turn them into spectacles. There are meals taken together by performance participants during the planning phase of performance production. Pizzas, 32 muffins, juice and coffees were often shared amongst the younger and older Turning Point women. Conversations flowed easily while we ate. There was an unwritten policy to make sure the girls were always fed. A nurturing environment like this can aid in the development of trust and community. In line with her previous extravagant international pot-luck, Suzanne Lacy choreographed another grand dinner party in New Orleans, in 1980. Organizers of the Women's Caucus for Art conference invited Lacy to participate in their protest. They were obligated to hold their conference in New Orleans "in a state that had not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment" (Stein, 1996, p. 235). Delegates protested the conference organizers' choice of location by boycotting local restaurants and hotels, opting to stay in private homes and cook and eat together. This led Suzanne Lacy to create River Meetings: Lives of Women in the Delta. The evening of theatre, poetry readings and dramatizations took place upon the opening of the conference including a potluck meal that brought together 500 ethnically diverse women to celebrate their southern heritages. Roth (1993) quotes Lacy's written reflections on this event, she had '"a feeling of certainty that there was real energy afoot among women there and that this performance had helped crystalize [sic] it.' Various subsequent projects have been proposed -including the beading of a tapestry of names signed at the dinner -but, after several meetings, the New Orleans planning committee ceased to convene" (p. 161). As I write and summarize each of the performance descriptions I find myself wanting to know more, sensing that there must be more. What else happened at these events? How did the performances affect the lives of those who participated? What happened next, or was that all there was? How was it received by the community in which it was held? How did each of these events relate to the next? Where is the critique? A l l I can find are descriptions. Where are the voices of the participants? On August 13, 1982, in a Roch Bobois furniture store, in San Francisco, a tableaux of 100 women participants came to life in Freeze Frame: Room for Livingroom. The women came from a variety of ethnic, socio-economic backgrounds, abilities and ages. The costumes and props were decided by the participants. The audience, made up 2The text (Roth, 1986; 1993) does not discuss the decision making process which determined the exact props, the setting of the props, or the costuming. 33 mostly of family members and friends of the participants, was estimated at between 400 and 600 individuals. Participants included African American churchwomen, teenagers, Philippine women, sex-trade workers, ex-psychiatric inmates, pregnant women, co-operate women, Chicana artists, non-traditional workers and nuns. The furnishings consisted of a long pink sofa, a white duck couch, hard upright red lacquer chairs, wood and wicker dining set, a mask and a black satin purse stuffed with hundreds of bank notes, spilled pills and syringes, yellow writing pads and pens. The costuming ranged from leg-warmers for the teenagers, overalls for the non-traditional workers, to contemporary habits for the nuns (Roth, 1982). The theme of the piece claimed to be survival. The general intent was to capture and present to an audience a "pre-coalition snapshot," a vision of potential community between women from various backgrounds (Roth, 1982, p.71). The women seated in homogeneous groupings, discussed stories from their lives that involved survival. The performance was choreographed in such a way that the women sat in silence for fifteen minutes before being instructed to begin their dialogues or monologues The description of this performance raises many questions for me. Who determined that a posh furniture store was a suitable setting for these women, none of whom seem likely to ever enter let alone shop there? When the women were seated in homogeneous groups for their performance, how does this represent a community or coalition? The idea that it was a pre-coalition snapshot strikes me as a bit optimistic. This claim assumes that there was eventually a coalition formed. This, I doubt to be true. I am faced with more questions from this performance than its brief description can answer. How true was this community? Did it reflect the built relationships of these women or an image of a potential community? Whose dream community did this represent? What happened to the group, to the individual women, after the performance? How did it affect their lives, i f at all? Was it a moment in the present, a reflection of their past, a new beginning.... How did this relate to their lives, in their own words? What happened when it was over? Where did these women go after, how did they relate to one another without the context of the performance? 34 Through her group presentations Lacy taught participants about this form of art so that they would have some understanding of a living tableau they were about to create. Roth (1982) describes how Lacy describes her vision of the performance tableaux to a group of possible participants, she recalls, "I watch the first meeting of the elderly Jewish women at the community center. Twenty in all listen to Suzanne's description of a 'living painting of women.'3 They are taken with the image" (p. 73). We learn little more about these meetings or what happened in group facilitations. How did the images develop, who determined the use of metaphor. Lacy directed the movements in this performance. In a brief description, we get a glimpse of what it was like, "after fifteen minutes of silent tableau, Lacy flashes a green card at the sex workers and they begin to speak. She goes from group to group signalling, and voices rise to flood the space" (Roth, 1982, p.74). On May 19, 1984, along adjacent beach coves in the retirement and resort community of La Jolla, California, over 150 women in white, shared personal stories, often secrets, about living and dying in Whisper, The Waves, the Wind. Suzanne Lacy collaborated with Susan Stone to create the sound score for this performance. The audience perched on the cliffs above the performers could only hear the sounds of the wind, waves and the pre-recorded women's conversations. Approximately 160 white-clad women aged 65 - 100 arrived in a slow procession and seated at 40 card tables covered in white cloths. The women held conversations on topics of appearance, physical problems, sexuality, freedom, nursing homes, and death. The performance ended when the audience was permitted to join the women in their discussions on the beach. Again the energy following this performance dwindled and ceased. "So what are we left with? We are given these vast pageantlike gatherings of women celebrating their differences, their commonalities, their survival, and their wisdom -performances with enormous poetic impact but hollow in terms of action-oriented resonance" (Roth, 1993, p. 161). Roth also tells us that both the Whisper Project along with Freeze Frame, "failed to generate further activities in the city," (p. 161). 3Lacy refers to 'living paintings' time and time again in describing her performance work. This will be further investigated in relation to Turning Point and Under Construction. 35 May 10, 1987, Suzanne Lacy's Crystal Quilt was executed in the Crystal Court of the IDS Building in downtown Minneapolis. Along similar lines to Whisper, the Waves, the Wind, this colossal public pageant in which approximately 430 elder-women participated. Lacy collaborated on this project with artist Miriam Schapiro and musician Susan Stone. Schapiro designed the impressive yellow, red and black quilt that the women performers would enact, and Stone created the audio-tape and music score that played simultaneously during the performance. Audience and media reporters viewed from balconies encompassing the performance space. Two years of recruitment, workshops, and planning led to this grand performance. The length of time and involvement that the elderly women had in the project varied from being involved in a Photo: •http://www.netdreamsxom/registr>,/lacv/index/htrnl two-year process to a single day of the performance. The performance began with a procession of black-gowned women entering the performance set. Four women sat around each of the black-clothed square tables. Why the black gowns and procession? We have heard of the concerns and discontent with this aesthetic decision. Again, artist's aesthetics take precedence. Moira Roth tells us buried in a footnote, "of course there have also been criticism, including expressions of discontent among some of the participants and complaints by members of the audience ranging from gripes about not being able to see the event clearly enough to criticisms of style, content and intent" (1993, p. 172). Where are the written voices of discontent? Why did Roth dismiss this and not include any of this in her writings, as she has said, she has witnessed most of 3 6 these major works over the past ten years. Criticisms of content and intent are nothing to be dismissive of. Jeff Kelly (1993) tells us how Lacy handled participants of the small performance Inevitable Associations4, where other elderly women participants were uneasy about wearing all black dresses. Kelly (1993) tells us that "when the disagreement over the black clothing emerged, Lacy did not simply strip away at her aesthetic design but added to it by providing the red chairs from which her participants could speak out and be seen, thereby representing themselves. Participation, then, was an ongoing process of negotiation without a hidden agenda. The artist's motivations, ideas, and symbolic language -as far as she understood them herself-were all out front" (p. 232). Kelly claims that participation in one of Lacy's works isn't "simply a matter of agreeing with the artist at the outset of a project or her agreeing with her participants. Rather, participation is a dialogical process that changes both the participant and the artist" (p. 232). Returning to Crystal Quilt, the women, on cue, folded the corners of the tablecloths, revealing red and yellow cloths underneath. They spoke to one another about ageing, about their lives. They held and crossed hands in unison, and brought life to the quilt. The audio-taped pre-recorded voices, detailed stories of some of the women participants, adding another layer of story-telling, conversation, narrative, to the ones created or enacted on the site below. During the two weeks following the performance, the project organizers and coordinator contacted all of the participants to talk about how they were doing following the performance. It was an important and compassionate action to take considering the possibility of post-performance blues, and the high rate of depression in elderly women. Some of the participants continued to meet after the performance, but these meetings waned and eventually ceased. This is the first reference to follow-up within the context of Lacy's performances. Beyond follow-up, the consideration of closure is not mentioned. These participants 4 In 1976, Lacy worked with a small group of elderly women for a performance in the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. In the lobby, Lacy was given a make-over to age her like the other women. The goal of the performance was to raise the profile of the invisible woman and the doubly invisible elderly woman (Kelly, 1995). 37 were not merely performers in a play, they are not theatrical professionals, they are regular women with diverse life experiences, sharing and giving of themselves. For many of them it was a two year commitment. This is a significant amount of time in anyone's life. Sessions of reflection and methods to help secure closure ought to have happened. After all, how much can you tell about someone over a phone conversation? Who were those calls for really? Perhaps the organizers felt it was the right thing to do, but what good did it do in reality. This we do not know. Lacy engaged in the multiple levels of creation of The Crystal Quilt, from conception through to fruition. She took similar roles to her previous large scale performance works: artist, director, recruiter, group facilitator, and educator. Once the performance is over her role with the group ends, she disengages. Social work hasn't traditionally been the role of the artist, but then again traditionally, artists haven't used people and their social lives as the raw material for their art productions. Perhaps we ought to reconsider the role of the artist and the responsibilities examined with these new social ramifications. Lacy, when working on Turning Point, made it clear that her role ended with the performance, and i f anything were to follow, it would be up to the affected community to take charge. Clearly stated as this was, it still negated the need for participant closure. In 1993, Lacy designed an artwork or cultural action, Full Circle, to make public both historical and contemporary women who had made significant contributions to their communities in Chicago. This single project is the most thoroughly documented project I found during my literature search. The documentation provides us with an understanding of the inspiration for the project, the participants, the practical and artistic processes, as well as the use of metaphor and site choice. In Full Circle, Lacy sought to make the work extremely accessible in a public place. "Jane Addams was a most visible symbol of the notion of public service. This project will be a modern-day 'portrait' of Jane Addams - not the person herself, but the vision, the ideals, and the activities that typified women's contributions during her time" (Lacy, 1995, p.66). Jane Addams, 1933 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Ellen Gates Starr founded Hull-House in 1889, Chicago's first and most important settlement house. The issues 38 that formed the base for the activities at Hull-house included: "immigrants' rights', juvenile justice, industrial safety, protective legislation for women and children, labour unions, women's rights, public health issues, social welfare legislation, political reform, housing and sanitation reform, public recreation, progressive education, multicultural understanding and community arts programs" (Jacob, 1995, p.66). It was as though Chicago had forgotten its founding mothers. This lack of female presence in both public monuments and sculptures inspired Lacy to develop a project that would celebrate and acknowledge Chicago's contemporary culturally and socially contributing women - women who reflect the actions and interactions of their predecessors at Hull-House. With the assistance of a steering committee, comprised of local women who had connected with Lacy over her numerous visits, the project took the form of temporarily placed monuments naming significant women in the community. The committee acted as a sounding board for metaphors and a means of participant recruitment. It was necessary in the eyes of the committee and Lacy that the monuments represent Chicago's diverse cultural communities. One hundred women were selected from 350 nominations5. Ninety contemporary women were selected by a committee of fifteen women, while the remaining ten women, from earlier eras, were selected by a historical commission (Jacob, 1995). photo credit: John McWilliams, 1993 (Jacob, The committee involved women in as Brenson, & Olson, 1995, p.67) many aspects of the project as possible. 5 A total of 350 nominations were brought forward after an open public solicitation which included advertising and field investigation. 3 9 They sought out a woman owned quarry from which they could obtain the required one hundred boulders. Joanne and Cecil Gillespie, two sisters who recently inherited the Wapanucka Limestone Quarry in Oklahoma, donated the boulders to the project. A bronze plaque, designed by Leslie Becker, inscribed with the name and a quotation by the named was affixed to each boulder. Lacy worked with a sizeable crew to decide upon sites for each of the rocks and, to obtain necessary city permits, obtain and run semi-trailers and cherry pickers. Decisions about placement of the boulders along the Loop, had both contextual and aesthetic considerations. The placement of the boulders was based on a consideration of visibility, and at other times, an association between the named woman and a nearby building. On May 20, 1993 at 3:30 am the last of the boulders were unloaded from flatbed trailers and placed along the streets of the Loop. This sudden surreal rock outcropping received immediate public and media attention. The inscribed quotations brought to the public messages about the millennium and of the anniversary of the first Woman's building at Chicago's 1893 World's fair. Women's groups staged several events around the rocks during the four months they remained on the Loop. The initial event, a week after the appearance of the boulders, honoured the named women. They received certificates6 in front of hundreds of people, including their families, friends, and colleagues. After receiving her certificate, each woman dispersed with her family and friends to the site of her rock. Lacy (1995) was interested in seeing "these small celebrations by each woman, simultaneously occurring pockets, of experience, private acts in a public setting that would create a collective ritual all around the loop" (p.71). Again we see evidence of photo credit: Paula Stewart (Jacob; Brenson, & Olson, 1995, p.71) 6Certificates were prepared by Chicago artist Ester Parada. 40 the blurring of the private with the public experience which is so prominent in Lacy's work. The grand finale for the Full Circle performance/installation occurred on September 30, 1993, when fourteen prominent women leaders7 from around the globe, gathered at Hull-House for dinner. This private dinner party, which was taped and later televised, was a symbolic act. Lacy (1995) claims that it operated best in the artistic realm of the visual and mythological. It was the relationships among women that fuelled Jane Addam's social interventions and much of nineteenth and twentieth century feminist activism. It is this relationship that is so foreign to our popular culture which ignores or trivializes female alliances. Yet, these relationships can provide the power for social change. The documentation of Full Circle gave me a peek into the inspirations and processes in the project. These accounts, descriptive as they are, give us only a fragmented picture of what it means to be engaged in an artistic production with Suzanne Lacy. We have not heard from the participants, aside from second-hand comments in footnotes. We do not know what it meant to them. We have media representations, artists' quotes, and accounts from other writers who may, or may not have been personally involved in the production. For all that this documentation told me, it left me with even more questions. It's clear that there were elements of collaboration, but what was the nature of that collaboration? Perhaps it was more cooperative than collaborative. What happened after the performance? Were there any long term effects on the participating communities, or the individuals that played part in the production? Were these projects successful? How was it determined whether it was a success or not? Were they evaluated and if so how? What were the strengths of the project, from an inside perspective, and what were the 7The honoured guests were: Magdalena Abakanowicz, artist, Poland; Cheryl Carolus, Executive Committee member of the African National Congress, South Africa; Hyun-Kyung Chung, feminist theologian, Korea; Johnnetta Cole, President of Spelman College, U.S.A.; Dr. Mima Cunningham, physician and Congresswoman, Nicaragua; Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, psychiatrist and writer, Egypt; Susan Faludi, writer, U.S.A.; Susan Grode, lawyer, U.S.A.; Anita Hil l , law professor, U.S.A.; Dolores Huerta, organizer of the United Farm Workers, U.S.A.; Devaki Jain, economist, India; Wilma P. Mankiller, Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation; Gloria Steinem, writer, U.S.A.; Rev. Addie Wyatt, labour organizer, U.S.A. 41 weak points? Who stayed and who left? When was it over? Lacy, herself, calls for evaluation of 'new genre' public art. Lacy (1995) asks: Can we trust the artist's claims for the work? Some critics have suggested that the distance between the artist's political intentions and real social change is the only criterion. This idea reflects the dualistic conundrum at the heart of critical thinking about this work -is it art or is it social work? Methods traditionally used to measure change, drawn from the political or social sciences, are never, to my knowledge, actually applied. The language for doing so is not in place, and even if it were, we are reluctant to reduce our critical evaluation to one of numbers, or even, for that matter, to personal testimonies. Concrete results in the public sphere, and how these reflect the artist's intensions, may occasionally be illustrative of a work's success but fall short, as they do not capture all the varied levels on which art operates, (p.45) Lacy goes on to say that if we lean too far in the direction "of evaluating the work's social claims, critics avoid giving equal consideration to its aesthetic goals." I will take these words into serious consideration as I analyze Turning Point and Under Construction. Lacy's work features common elements including intimate stories, voices and bodies of participants. Participants frequently talk to one another, while seated in groupings in front of an audience. Seeing the repetition of this common element, I have to wonder about the degree of participant influence on the form of the project. Who held the power when decisions were made? Who lead and who followed? Who is the art for? Who was heard and who wasn't? In describing her 1987 art performance The Dark Madonna, Lacy (1993) asks the question, Who is speaking in The Dark Madonna? What did the Black, Latina, white, American Indian, and Asian pacific women in the performance feel was noteworthy in their experience, fitting material for a work of art? To begin to develop language appropriate to public art, we will need to consider how the complete process of preparation and exhibition is integral to the work -educating the community, working within the mass media stream, locating the work in its place, recruiting assistants and performers and networking with social institutions. The Dark Madonna was a process that began with a well-attended conference on historical and anthropological interpretations of the Black Madonna images in various ethnic cultures. Next, a series of small group discussions culminated in audiotaping sessions to provide the raw material for the soundtrack which would accompany the performance broadcast on loudspeakers during the performance. This process included linking with multiple ethnic communities and exploring racial controversy, even within the project. The project was the culmination of this process, the public presentation of the year's engagement, (p. 290) 42 Lacy (1993) acknowledges the power held by the artist in collaborative works as she describes the tableau as a framing device for presenting an author/artist determined opinion of reality. Lacy claims that "such intentional framing is inherently political" (p. 292). She goes on to say that "Performance and tableau act together in the public space to create a monument of meaning"(p. 293). Lacy also claims that meaning making is a "shared activity between artist and observer" (p. 299). Then I ask, where is the participant in this mediation of meaning? As she tells us that she personally does not want to discard the model of "isolate authorship" (p.37). The artist here sounds like a modernist working with postmodern materials, and someone else's subject matter. I also wonder where Lacy's definition of public art fit into an art project that claims emancipatory goals? In conversation with Betty Ann Brown (1996) Lacy states "Public art is what happens between the artist and the audience, so public art can take place in the galleries as far as I'm concerned. I'm not so sure public art even has to have a diversity of audience, at least for any one work" (p. 164). So which audience is appropriate for that 'any one work'? Who is included, and who is excluded? To begin to answer some of these questions, we need to hear from the individuals involved. Only then may we obtain a more complete understanding of this performance along with previously described projects. We also need to be able to place Lacy's work, including Turning Point and Under Construction, into context with other collaborative and or community based public art, as well as art that aims for social change, so that we might more fully understand her works. 'Other' Public Artists In this section I present selected public, collaborative, art projects and performances from the early 1970s through to the late 1990s. I describe the content of the art works as they contain elements of ecological, social, or political activism, and I examine their social and educational functions. Each piece has its own distinct location and circumstance surrounding its creation, and in each case, the general public is the intended audience for these site specific and context driven art pieces (Kaprow, 1993). New genre public art is valid content for art education as a vital contemporary art form. I argue that art of this genre is more than simply valid content for art education, but is in 43 itself education. These art projects encourage participants to engage in learning through the production of a dynamic and temporal art work. During the shift of a paradigm, there is a time of overlap, co-existence. Artists construct or perform their work that reflects their times. Art within our changing societies reflects these shifts of philosophy. Modernism and postmodernism must be seen together, in parallax (technically, the angle of displacement of an object caused by the movement of the observer), by which I mean that our framings of the two depend of our position in the present and that this position is defined by such framings. (Foster, 1996, p. 207) Public, community-based, collaborative, co-operative, performative, feminist: art from the modern to the postmodern are not discrete categories but are woven together. However, I have used these descriptors in order to organize selected historic artistic practices. Turning Point and Under Construction fall into the time-line of paradigm overlap - where they clearly exhibit both modern and postmodern characteristics. The structural arrangement has been planned according to the directing artist's aesthetic vision. The colours, forms, flow, sequence are choreographed by the artist. However, unlike a static sculpture, Turning Point and Under Construction contained deeply collaborative elements. These projects were not conceived in isolation, but rather within a community of participants. Each was a multi-faceted and complex work, temporal and yet held individual permanence in the memories of the participants. Although Lacy conceptually constructed the works (as in a modernist approach) she consulted regularly with participants on the physical form and central ideological content (very anti-modernist). Lacy's work firmly fits into the realm of New Genre Public Art, and responds to all three models set out by Lucy Lippard (1996) as feminist forms of art. The feminist (and socialist) value system insists upon cultural workers supporting and responding to their constituencies. The three models of such interaction are (l)group and/or public ritual; (2) public consciousness raising and interaction through visual images, environments, and performances; and (3) cooperative/collaborative or anonymous art-making, (p. 29) According to these criterion, one could refer to Turning Point as simply a feminist art project, rather than as a community-based feminist, collaborative public art performance. 44 However, many people have different ideas about what feminist art projects are, and many young Turning Point participants did not see their project as being feminist In the 1970s, American activist artists sought to emphasize democratic values through the content of art performances and productions while also including populist and folk art practices in what had been an exclusive high art arena (Felshin, 1996; Lacy, 1996). They also included collaboration within their artistic production, expressing at least the guise of democratic ideals. The artist or creative mastermind of high modernism was not the only artistic persona that artists of the 1970s embodied. The collaborative craftsperson, artisan, performer, interpretative historian and social critic were also prevalent roles artists played. Criticizing Modernist Public Art Production The image of the successful artist as a solo hero or poetic seer, unbound from social and moral obligations through a freedom to create art stemmed from the bourgeois culture8 that dominated industrial capitalism (Bersson, 1987). In the modernist paradigm, the functionality of the art object coupled with the artistic intention determined whether or not a piece was indeed art. In light of this, Suzi Gablik (1991) explains that "within the aesthetic framework, real-life actions or situations can sometimes be art, but only as long as they are not useful and serve no purpose" (p. 134). Gablik summarizes the downfall of modern art in that, modernism above all, exalted the complete autonomy of art, and the gesture of severing bonds with society. This sovereign specialness and apartness was symbolized by the romantic exile of the artist, and was lived out in modes of rebellion, withdrawal and antagonism, (p.5) We can see examples of this amoral approach to art when, earth sculptor, Michael Heizer, negated his moral and social obligations in proclaiming "I don't care about landscape. I'm a sculptor. Real estate is dirt, and dirt is material" (quoted in Gablik, 1991, p. 140). Heizer is well known for his sculpture, Double Negative (Napier, 1992) in which he displaced 240,000 tons of earth with explosives resulting in two enormous cuts 8Culture: "The particular ways in which a social group lives out and makes sense of its 'given' circumstances and conditions of life" (McLaren, 1988, p. 171). 45 in the Nevada desert floor. In an attempt to avoid complaints from environmentalists, Heizer purchased the land as private property rather than declaring his intentions, thereby facing a different issue, the alteration of public space (Gablik, 1991; Napier, 1992). Modern aesthetics have been criticized as being devoid of moral purpose and social obligation (Fiss, 1990; Gablik, 1991). The artist is criticized for serving no social or political function. Gablik (1991) claims that: The issue now is whether modernist aesthetics needs to be complemented by a new aesthetics of participation that is less specialized, and deals more adequately with issues of context; and whether a new definition of art's cultural purpose would open it (and ourselves) up to more creative interactions with others, and with the world, (p. 150) Many artists (Deggs, 1980; Kaprow,1993; Lacy, 1977, 1984, 1994; Scherk, Simpson, 1980; 1987 Ukeles, 1997; 1991) have focused on the idea that political action doesn't have to be only symbolic within the context of a work of art (Lacy, 1996; Miles, 1989). Artists may choose to engage in an activity that may act both as an art work, with aesthetic considerations, and politically, as a social action. One outcome does not necessarily exclude the other. Like concerns expressed by socially responsive artists, there has also been a call from art educators to move beyond the narrow elitist scope of a Western Fine Art paradigm, to one of cultural democracy. Art education researchers (Bersson, 1987; Blandy, 1987; Chalmers, 1987; jagodzinski, 1987) call for art education to be socially, culturally, and ecologically relevant, while being responsive to current social conditions. Environmental Concerns Some contemporary artists have successfully linked their social and ecological concerns with their art practice. In the following section I present a selection of artistic work that exemplifies the link between aesthetics and values. The conceptual practices of many contemporary public artists are framed by issues of environment, equality and representation (both historic and contemporary), violence, death, democracy, poverty and privilege. Bonnie Sherk (Leibovitz Steinman, 1996) initiated the public art project Crossroads Community (also known as "The Farm"). The piece was a life-scale performance structure that lasted six years (1974-1980). Crossroads Community, an urban environmental education and multi-arts community centre, transformed seven acres 46 of various land parcels into a "city-farm" park near San Francisco's Mission District. Unfortunately, I have not found written documentation of the lasting effects of the project on the participants and community. In this example we see an urban environment transformed in a way in which directly benefitted community members. Environmental education was a central part of the "Farm" program. There were demonstrations on responsible agriculture and children's art, a performance space and a solar green house. Like one would expect of a farm, it also housed ducks, geese and rabbits. Through this complex project, Sherk "created a way of calling attention to the connections that exist everywhere" (Leibovitz Steinman, 1996, p. 275). Buster Simpson, known for his community art projects in Seattle, has created a number of art installation projects, all in the public sphere. His work responds to environmental issues, and they vary in the amount of collaboration, or public input. In the early 1980s, Simpson created the clandestine installation Downspout - Plant Life Monitoring System. Located at Seattle's Pike Place Market, the installation is a vertical landscape of ferns planted in U-shaped downspouts that work both as plant habitats and as an effective filtering system for water run-off before entering the sewer system (Leibovitz Steinman, 1996). In 1988, Simpson installed a temporary piece titled Composting Commode. He constructed this piece in response to a perceived public need for more public toilets in Seattle. It was first located on First Avenue in Seattle in 1988. When it was moved, trees were planted in the compost from the commode. In May of 1992, Columbia City offered to host the commode in a community garden, a site for future fruit trees. Susan Leibovitz Steinman (1996, p. 277) describes Simpson's work as one which aims "to educate the general public and stimulate it to political change through community action, and to create art that functions pragmatically." His art work combines public education and environmental concerns with practical solutions to urban problems. There is a potency in both the descriptions and the outcomes of these art projects. Although achieved through collaboration and negotiation with city and parks officials, it is not clear in the literature to what extent the official bodies were involved, or what the process was for constructing and organizing these projects. The described environment 47 certainly sets the stage for education planning. However, I have been unable to determine what the education programs around Simpson's pieces were. In Portland Oregon, 1991, Buster Simpson initiated and installed Host Analog. This art piece, like The Farm, serves to remind observers of the interconnectedness of life, a theme strongly supported by art education researchers and theorists (Bersson, 1987; jagodzinski, 1987). Host Analog shows us the power and vulnerability which lies within our eco-system. It is about life, death, and rebirth. In the woods, we see where a fallen tree starts life over as a nurse log, as it returns to the earth and supplies the nutrients of life for new trees. Simpson captures this cycle in Host Analog - where in a public city space, the placement of a fallen tree and the natural cycle becomes a work of art. The cycle of the project is not complete until trees sprouting from seeds in the host log fed by nutrients within its decomposing mass, grow to maturity and tumble with age, rejoining the earth, becoming life-food for another generation. This art piece is a magnificent physical embodiment of the natural life cycle that will only thrive in its somewhat removed environment i f civic opinion agrees that it continue its 20 - 100 - 1000 year life cycle. Although there was civic agreement when the piece was initially installed, it will require reconsideration by subsequent generations of citizens and civic officials. Ciel Bergman initiated the art project Sea Full of Clouds, What Can I Do?. This was a collaborative art project initiated by two artists who cleaned Santa Barbara beaches, three hours a day for five weeks. With the collected plastics, they created an installation in The Contemporary Arts Forum. What began as a collaborative environmental art action, involving two participants, culminated in a dialogue which engaged the public in a debate on pollution and a discussion of what to do about the six dumpsters of non-biodegradable refuse (Gablik, 1991). Cleaning of the environment has been at the core of the work of artist, Dominique Mazeaud in her art and life performance, The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande River. She has undertaken this monthly ritual since September, 1987 (Carde, 1990). Dominique hopes that her project "will act as a catalyst for a better awareness of the growing problem that trash represents to our Earth and the necessity for the comeback of serious recycling, the awareness about trash disposal" (Carde, p.5). The ritualistic art 48 work consists of a meditation session followed by a pilgrimage to the Rio Grande River armed with garbage bags. Though usually alone, she sometimes performs her cleansing with friends or strangers. It is a daunting task to single-handedly clean a nearly dry river bed of debris. However, Mazeaud has used this forum to raise awareness of some serious environmental issues through direct dialogue and interaction with the public, and through the media. Patricia Phillips (1996) notes, "the point is not to produce another thing for people to admire, but to create an opportunity - a situation - that enables viewers to look back at the world with renewed perspectives and clear angles of vision" (p. 70). River debris has been removed (at varying rates) by the artist and occasional participants. Media attention to this project has raised public awareness of the river's situation. Mazeaud developed an ongoing art project / performance that has sought to have direct ecological and educational results. Ritually cleaning the river may bring about raised awareness to participants and media audience, but it may not be a time effective way to deal with the problem. (It is not apparent from this review whether the river cleaning was more than a ritualistic symbolic cleansing.) However, through direct engagement with the artist in the performance site, participants were able to experience first hand the effects of careless dumping on a river habitat. Yet that engagement does not guarantee participant reflection. Mierle Laderman Ukeles, a New York artist, orchestrates performances and art projects that are provocatively designed to stimulate public debate (Phillips, 1995). The subject of her work often centres around issues of waste management, recycling and sanitation work. Within an urban context, Ukeles engages in "maintenance art", an art form committed to the maintenance of public life and performance of everyday activities. In Cambridge Massachusetts, 1993, Ukeles completed an art project in Daheny Park, a former landfill. The fifty-five-acre knoll project is surrounded by sports fields and other playing grounds. Only seventy-two feet high, it still provides a panoramic view of the Cambridge-Boston area. Working with landscape architect John Kissada of Camp Dresser & Mckee, Inc., and with the support of the Cambridge Arts Council's program Art Insights, the artist designed a simple path system that winds gently around the knoll, bringing visitors to the top. The gradual incline makes the entire site wheelchair-accessible. Part of the project's program 49 involved educational presentations with community children and adults. For the glassphalt used to construct the path, the glass component comes both from bottles the children had collected and a week's collection from the city. (Phillips, 1995, p. 191) As a result of Ukeles' work, Phillips claims that "the project enhanced the value of work while making art more accessible" (p. 174). Other artists have also made their work more accessible through collaboration with community members. Well known Saskatchewan artist, Joe Fafard, and farmer, Roy Hickling (acting as curator and project co-ordinator), constructed a large scale community art project in Barrie, Ontario (Meeka Walsh, 1997). The project began in August, 1996, with a single line drawing of a draft horse. Fafard faxed his drawing to Hickling, who then worked with engineering students to survey the land for seeding the large scale drawing. Farmers then worked the field, while pilots and photographers documented the process throughout the season. What began as graphite drawing on paper, faxed as a message, became canola seeds sewn along carefully surveyed lines. The 1,100 x 1,900 foot, living picture of the line-drawn draft horse changed hues with the seasons until harvest time, like any other field of grain. The Fafard Field Project concluded in September, 1997 with the International Plowing Match. Other key players in this massive project included the International Plowing Match Committee, engineering students from Georgian College, local farmers, and Canadian Foodgrains Bank. The image concluded with the plowing of the canvas and distribution of the collected grains to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Fafard, like the other community/ public artists discussed in this study, collaborated with various organizations and individuals from diverse backgrounds that were drawn together to see this multifaceted project to conclusion. This project, like the work of maintenance artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, blurs the boundaries between acts of life and art, and forces us to consider the actuality or the arbitrariness of such a boundary. These projects dealt with issues of the environment, education, and public awareness through a collaborative and active process. In each case the artist worked with others, and considered the audience and participants of the projects. Public awareness, participation, and education were also elements in each of these projects. The public and 50 participants had opportunities to address issues that were of concern to them and then to act on their concerns while engaging with artists and one another. Through the creation and initial installation of the Composting Commode, Buster Simpson instigated debate over the placement of the commode resulting in the acknowledgment that more public washrooms were needed in Seattle. Awareness and public debate were also components of Sea full of clouds - what can I do? (Gablik, 1991, p. 154). Environmental improvements were desired and intended elements of many of these projects. Social commentary was certainly part of their aim, but these artists went further. They blurred artistic creation with environmental and social actions. Artists engage their audiences and challenge our notion of what art is and what it can be. Equality Writer and art critic, Arlene Raven (1988), discusses feminist art from the 1970s and 1980s in the United States. She describes feminist works of art which focus on the experiences of women in relation to: birth, rape, domestic violence, religion, home/work environments, sexuality, and war. The messages within the art works, whether they are weavings, ceramics, installations, or performances, are aimed at bringing about public awareness and social change. Historically, women have been subjects and mythical images found in Western art history. Although present in paintings, women artists have until recently been invisible in art history. Historically women often collaborated in creative artistic endeavours. Gathering for purposes of art making can in itself create community. Arlene Raven (1995) describes an authentic community as differing from a colonized township, in that it is formed through a commonality of its citizens. This commonality expressed by each individual finds a pattern in the whole, one that may be inherited but is also chosen. This collaborative form of art production was not yet acknowledged as being legitimate when Judy Chicago commenced the large scale collaborative art piece, The Dinner Party, which opened at the Brooklyn Museum in 1979. The triangular table arrangement was set with 39 place settings of sculpted porcelain plates of abstract butterfly-vaginas and embroidered table runners, each setting designed to represent a specific woman in history or legend. Key to the success of the work was the acknowledgment of the women who were absent in the common 51 interpretations of Western history (Stein, 1994). The names of 999 women were inscribed with gold on the white floor-tiles beneath the table. Perhaps it is appropriate that the tiled floor was completely white, as Alice Walker was quick to criticize Chicago for explicitly representing only one black woman on the Dinner Party plates. Even then the plate for Sojourner Truth, illustrated pained and crying faces on the plate and not the elegant butterflies of so many of the other plates. Nancy Ring (1996) discusses and quotes Walker's 1979 Ms. Magazine critique: This special treatment, she argues, depletes Sojourner Truth's history as well as that of every black woman obliged to look to this single image for recognition of her unique and particular heritage and lived experiences: 'To think of black women is impossible if you cannot imagine them with vaginas. Sojourner Truth certainly had a vagina, as note her lament about her children, born of her body and sold into slavery. Note her comment.. .that when she cried out with a mother's grief, none but Jesus heard her. Surely a vagina has to be acknowledged when one reads these words. (A vagina the color of raspberries and blackberries -or scuppernongs and muscadines -and of that strong, silvery sweetness, with, as well, a sharp flavor of salt.)'.. .Walker helps to locate its universalism within a sphere of blind whiteness -an invented, sheltering place where thoughts and questions and worries about racial tensions and specificities do not soak and burn daily in the pores but instead are regarded as luxuries or irritants or grounds for self-congratulations, (p. 132) Throughout the project, Chicago maintained artistic control over the design of the product, although hundreds of women were involved in the construction of individual elements. In all, the project took a total of five years to complete and included over 400 participants. Chicago demanded full-time unpaid work from her volunteers, the kind of dedication and professionalism that she brought to her work. The stress of this kind of a demand, left many volunteers leaving the project. Volunteer work is work all the same. It is ironic to consider any level of exploitation of women's work and unpaid labour while working on a 'feminist' art piece. We need to keep in mind the era in which the Dinner Party and the Birth Project (which began in 1980 and was completed in 1985), were produced. At the time of the Dinner Party's construction, ceramic porcelain, and needlework, were not considered materials of fine art, but of artisans and craftspersons, which in turn, were seen as being of lesser value. By choosing to use these materials, Chicago challenged accepted notions of appropriate media for art production. 52 The shift of what is deemed to be appropriate materials and subjects for artists, has had a lasting effect on visual art practice, for both female and male art producers and consumers. Although criticized as being an example of the "cult of the personality that surrounded women artists in the 1970s" (Guerrilla Girls, in Hess, 1995, p. 313), Judy Chicago's Dinner Party provided a template for collaborative art production while using alternate media. Yet "The Dinner Party did not fulfill the Utopian ideals of nonhierarchical collaboration that are understood as having been central to the mainstream women's movement of the 1970s. As all of the participants in the project have stressed (including Chicago herself), Chicago controlled the studio, determined the design of the runners and banners, and designed the painted plates" (Jones, 1996, 105). In the Dinner Party, Amelia Jones (1996) tells us that Chicago identified her project as cooperative rather than collaborative in nature. Chicago "proposed the notion of a 'flexible' or 'benevolent' hierarchy, 'where people get recognized for their work but one person is in charge'" (Jones, p. 106). Personal sentiments, written by participating needleworkers for the Birth Project reveal what this working relationship, or flexibility meant for some of them. Chicago (1985) gives us some of these letters: "I am definitely dependent upon Judy's approval. I have placed her on a pedestal. That's not good for her or for me." Jan Lo Biondo "Most of us are not professionals, and it's difficult for us to separate the personal from the artistic. Judy doesn't understand us or our lives completely; we don't understand her and her life as an artist either. But we keep on trying, all of us." Dolly Kaminiski "For all of Judy's insight and vision, she does not fully comprehend the impact her images have on us. We are stitching with our souls -our deepest spiritual self is woven into our work." Frannie Yablonsky (Chicago, p. 105) Chicago asked women to reveal their birth experiences, by both telling about them and drawing from their experiences when working on their stitching pieces. Yet, when their life and familial obligations took priority, Chicago minimized their importance. Chicago (1985) reflects: "my expectations for a time commitment to the project were based on my own lifestyle. It was a long time before my expectations began to accommodate the reality of most women's lives" (p. 62). She describes a piece that was left unfinished by a woman who was pregnant when she began the piece, but was unable to finish due to the baby's interruptions, sleeplessness, and the fact that she 53 became pregnant again shortly after the birth of her first child. Chicago decided to present the unfinished piece, with its needle in place, " because this happened frequently -women misassessing their capabilities and their lives -I decided to present the unfinished work as a symbol for women's uncompleted lives. This image celebrates woman's fecundity and her power to bring forth new life. How ironic that this very power often causes us to lose control of our own lives" (p. 63). Rather than Chicago having been at fault for assigning pieces too large and complex for busy mothers who were non-professional volunteers, Chicago lays the blame on the volunteers who stitched with their souls, for over estimating their ability. Their individual tales of birth and their lived realities were not what really seemed to matter for this project, but rather, to complete the artistic vision set out by the artist to represent the birth of the universe. Yet she claims that this project was founded with democratic principles in mind. "The Birth Project extends the democratization of art begun by The Dinner Party. It is meant to travel for years, to be inexpensive to exhibit and to ship, to be accessible to many different types of organizations and spaces, and to introduce images of birth and information about the realities of women's lives to a wide audience of viewers" (Chicago, 1985, p.7). After nearly one hundred shows, the tour of the exhibition ended in 1987. Since then, pieces of the project have found their way into permanent collections of various American museums. The challenge to actually have one's art work exhibited has been a battle for many women artists. The G u e r r i l l a G i r l s , an anonymous feminist artists' collective, has brought facts of sexism and racial discrimination in the fine art world to the public, through public poster campaigns. Their text-based, artful posters were targeted at the fine arts community. In bold black text, one such poster asks "how many women had one-person exhibitions at N Y C museums last year?" Beneath the question, totals for following museums are: "Guggenheim 0, Metropolitan 0, Modern 1, Whitney 0" (Nina Felshen, 1995, p. 315; Mary Garrard, 1993, p.102). Beyond the confines of the art gallery or museum, artists have challenged accepted notions of history, including: Judith Baca 1976-1983, Edgar Heap of Birds, 1991, Suzanne Lacy & Kathleen Chang, 1977, Suzanne Lacy, 1994. Historical monuments and other markers tend to depict very selective histories that favour those in 54 power. Some contemporary artists have challenged common assumptions about the past, and suggest alternate histories in their art works. The Great Wall of Los Angeles (initiated in 1976, and completed in 1983), orchestrated by Judith Baca, presents an alternative history of California. The 2,400 foot long mural, located in a flood control channel in the Los Angeles River, "portrays the contribution of indigenous peoples, immigrant minorities, and women from prehistory to the fifties" (Leibovitz Steinman, 1996, p.202). Images, often excluded from history books, include Dust Bowl refugees, blacklisted actors, Mexican Americans being deported, and Japanese Americans being dragged off to internment camps. Participants involved in this ongoing mural include hundreds of teenagers who were hired and taught by Baca. Some of these teens included parolees from the juvenile justice program. This project also included the co-operation of the Army Corps of Engineers, the criminal justice system, the city, local politicians, teachers, anthropologists, and teenage gang members and many more. Susan Leibovitz Steinman (1996) describes Judith Baca as: a teacher who creates pedagogical structures within her expanded-scale artworks, training young artists from around the country in political art. Her work is distinguished by the scope of its vision, the sophistication of community organizing techniques employed, and its impact on national and international audiences, (p. 202) Gloria Bornstein and Donald Fels make use of public historical markers to act as social critics challenging the stated historical truths. In 1992, the artists constructed Shore Viewpoints and Voice Library along the landing at Washington Street Park, on Seattle's Elliott Bay. The artists designed signage, made to match Seattle's other public signs, and installed them along-side existing historic markers and park-activity signs. Their signs provided alternate histories about the waterfront. They also produced a voice library in which callers could access additional information about the history of the waterfront, as well as record their own comments. This temporary interactive art project was in place from June, 1991 until January 1992. Representation Tele-vecindario, street level videos, by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, was a complex collaborative community-based public art project that occurred in Chicago between 1992-55 1993. The working-class9 and low-income residents of West Town are predominantly Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central and South American (Jacob, 1995, p. 77). As it was Manglano-Ovalle's own neighbourhood, he sought to develop a project with the potential to change the residential street from being frightening and gang-inhabited to an environment that brought residents together in a positive and powerful way. He wanted to help take the fear and danger out of the streets so they could be comfortably re-inhabited by residents. Some of the elements of this massive project included Street-Level Videos, known as S-LV's. Through the use of video, Manglano-Ovalle hoped to provide an opportunity for residents to speak out about their community, voice their opinions, and challenge viewers. The first video, "This is my stuff," was played continuously from May through to September, 1993, in front of Emerson House.1 0 Video, an established tool of mass media and popular culture, often depicting negative stereotypes of Latino youth, became a means for the youth to represent and express themselves (Jacob, 1995). Another intriguing use of video was an eleven monitor installation of a temporary memorial on a vacant lot. '"Rest in Peace' became a temporary cemetery in memorium to youth who had died in gang violence" (Jacob, 1995, p.85). Yearly, hundreds of residents are shot in gang related incidents. The inauguration of "Culture in Action" provided an opportunity for the project to show works in progress in an open studio of the Museum of Contemporary Art. This public space was markedly different from the street level venue of the intended video installation in their neighbourhood. For many of the residents, it was their first time in an art museum. According to Mary Jane Jacob (1995), it was unlikely that the art museum public would reciprocate the visit to see the West Town installation in its original site. This turned out to be a long-lived and complex project. After months of meetings that included video training workshops, discussion with over forty social service agencies as well as negotiations among four rival gangs, the project culminated with a block 9Class: "The economic social and political relationship that governs life in a given social order -class relationships reflect the constraints and limitations individuals and groups experience in the area of income level" (McLaren, 1988, p. 171). l 0Emerson House Community Centre is a 1912 settlement house in the West Town. 56 party/video installation; performance and celebration with an audience of over 1000, from both in and out of the neighbourhood. Once the larger, more temporal project was over, videos were still produced by a S-LV crew two years later. In 1995, they were working on the production of'"Neutral Ground' a video dialogue among gang members that surround the school [sic] [Wells High school]" (Jacob, p.87). This art project contained elements of art installation, public memorial, social planning, youth leadership development, and community development. Although temporary outcomes were sought in the initial planning of the project, long-term goals for the neighbourhood emerged. Opportunities for public education occurred at multiple levels within this project. The artist collaborated with community members, facilitated the development of a dialogue among the various age groups and factions of the neighbourhood. Individuals were able to express their ideas, concerns and knew that someone would hear them. The videos were taken to the streets, and then beyond, to the public at large. Indeed, this is an example of truly accessible public art. Canadian artist, Beth Alber's (1997) The Marker of Change: The Women's Monument, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a potent example of a contemporary monument, not unlike Maya Lin's The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. 1 1 Fourteen young women slain in Montreal are remembered through this monument. Yet, it also signifies the senseless deaths of women at the hands of men yearly in Canada. This single tragic event makes a monument possible but it also calls our attention to the countless other instances of violence in our society. The social, personal and political context, makes this monument meaningful for me, as a woman, mother, and student, in a society that tolerates violence. Alber as the artist worked with collaborators to select materials to portray profound physical, actual and metaphorical meanings. The memorial may provide a starting point for some to realize the continued need for discussion on violence - since we "Maya Lin, The Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, 1982, located in Washington DC, has become a place for remembering, mourning, and healing. It is also the most visited monument in Washington. " A 220 foot long, V-shaped, polished black wall descent into the earth and rises out of it again. Its deepest point, the corner of the V , is ten feet below ground level. As one travels down the slope and the wall rises, one reads the first engraving, '1959', the year the war began. Then, listed in order of their death, without mention or regard for military rank, come the overwhelming names of the individuals who died in Vietnam" (Leibovitz Steinman, 1995, p. 256) 57 are not yet the "living monument" to the ideal of a truly peaceful society, physically free from violence. For others, it may be a place to grieve, to remember, to hope. The collaborative effort that went into this monument is astounding, from the fund-raising, consulting with surviving family members, to the severing of the pink granite from the earth. Although it was a single aesthetic design, a unifying vision that guided the project, it was the work, effort and dedication of participants in the project that brought it to completion (Alber, 1997). In Vancouver there are examples of artists working within a community to create works of art that are socially relevant and engage in public dialogue through the creation of art works. The work of Vancouver community public artist, Celine Rich, exemplifies community development through public discourse with a democratic methodology (Pulvermacher, 1996). Community outreach, bringing people together, expressing self within community and celebrating community, are prevalent within her work (in conversation with Rich, 1997). Like Mierle Laderman Ukeles (Phillips, 1995), Rich uses community involvement as some of her raw material in her artistic practice. She works collaboratively with community programmers, consults with numerous agencies, individuals, and with various strata of the city, such as the parks board, heritage board, department of engineering, community arts council, and more. She meets with community groups, youth groups, school classes, teachers, local cultural representatives, young and old alike. One of the key objectives of the Discovery Project for South East Vancouver, initiated by Rich in 1996, was to bring together diverse communities into a shared discussion of their neighbourhood. They discussed and planned how they would mark the special locations in their neighbourhood and local parks that would signify and talk about what it means to them to be a member in their community and to acknowledge local histories. The process involved numerous planning sessions and workshops, construction of representative bus shelters, historical markers on light standards, wildlife and botanical pavers for pathways. Programming for this project involved a massive outreach and promotion effort including brochures, door-to-door visits, bus tours, walking tours with enacted historical plays by local high school students as well as public lectures (in 58 conversation with Rich, 1997). This is an example where an art project contained elements that were temporal: a dated life span, as well as semi-permanent elements. Over two years, there was a very strong aspect of community involvement at every stage of planning and implementation. However, the off shoot projects and long-term community effects are not yet known though there is a recognition that public response to this project has been very positive (Rich, 1997). Community art projects such as these, provide opportunities for connections among community leaders, agencies, cultural workers, social workers, and other willing interested participants. These art installations, actions, and events have been devised with an aesthetic intention to reach out and provoke both the viewers and the participants. In some cases, the art project serves as a catalyst for further social and political actions. The content of the art projects, performances and installations often challenges the ideas and expectations of both the participants and viewing public. The experiences gained from being involved in such multifaceted projects are undoubtedly of educational value. The written accounts have all been fairly positive - asserting the strengths of each project. Negative or critical descriptions were fairly scarce. Failed projects may not have been written about, or poorly documented. Rarely have collaborative public art, or community-based art been described in an artistically critical manner. Written accounts may be required by various funding bodies, or for the purpose of the artists' portfolios. However, unlike an exhibit in a gallery or a public museum where critics write about their shows, a public community-based performance can, if poorly managed or attended, quietly slip from public visibility/memory. While reviewing documentation or essays about public projects and social art actions described in this section, one must consider the source of the information. What is the underlying purpose of the original review, who wrote it and what was their agenda? Was public spending an issue (if it was negative)? Was there a public outcry from an overtly political message? Was there a desire to support a break from the modernist artistic norm? Weaknesses either aesthetically or methodologically may have been over looked in previous reviews for numerous reasons. As a result, we have sided images of the productions from artists' and reviewers' perspectives. We haven't heard from the communities in which the art projects occurred, nor have we heard from those who 59 participated beyond promotional media interviews. By listening to those involved in such projects from their diverse perspectives we will have a fuller picture and understanding of the strengths as well as the weakness of collaborative projects. Polyphonic works of art, whose final forms respond to numerous stakeholders, require more complex forms of criticism than works by solo artists. Critique of the aesthetic form is no longer adequate when discussing complex collaborative, public works of art. We need to hear from those involved in the integral development of such projects to better critique, analyze, and ultimately understand these works. Consideration of Site and Context Although the artist can never know the full range of the viewers' personal domain, when planning and constructing a work of art, she or he must consider the intended audience/participants as well as the context and/or site of installation. Likewise, a sensitive teacher will consider the context for learning and the learner's environment (built, natural, political, cultural), when planning an effective educational unit or lesson. We each live within our personal boundaries, albeit in flux. The edge is the place where change is marked, the boundary where one condition ceases and another begins. Boundaries blur as both conditions are known. What once seemed clear, loses focus, begins to blur. To know the temporal edge is to be aware of your acquired assumptions of reality. A crucial part of adult education involves a process where a learner is able to first be aware of and then to reflect upon her or his assumptions about life from childhood, in order to re-examine their validity in adult life (Mezirow, 1989). Perhaps one's experience in a complex, socially driven art project could lead one to emancipatory knowledge. According to Habermas, such emancipatory knowledge helps us understand how social relationships are distorted and manipulated by relations of power and privilege (McLaren, 1988). Within an educational environment, one becomes aware of their personal boundaries. When learning occurs, these boundaries are pushed out a little further. Since individuals within communities are not only relevant, but essential, it would only make sense for artists to consider the physical, intellectual and psychological domains of the audience/participants when planning community based public art projects. The audience, therefore, becomes an element of the selected site and ought to be 60 considered aesthetically, logistically, and intellectually by an artist i f the intent is to engage an audience in experiencing elements of their edge: straddling, balancing, knowing, even crossing over. The Content for Creation, for Learning The value, or connection one has with a work of art is personally situated. If I were to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., as a thirty-something Canadian, my experience would vary from one who returned from the war, from one whose son, brother, spouse is marked with a date on the wall. Their experience at the memorial will differ again from someone who sees the memorial wall as part of a daily routine, cleaning the park. The impact, the message, the potency for all viewers, is dependent upon the connection made with the personal experience of the viewer. We can say then, that the personal connection between the viewer, participant, artist and art project, needs to be considered when organizing an art project. It is important that those who are involved in such an art piece feel connected to it (London, 1989). Artists should ask themselves what stake the participant, or viewers will have in the piece, and what will draw them in. It is vital that the content and context of the art projects are culturally and socially relevant to the participants (Miller, 1995). Community-based art projects, as I have presented so far, can take into account the relationship participants and viewers have with the site of construction or performance. Participants often have as much, i f not more, at stake or are linked with the content addressed in the work of art than do the artists that facilitate the creation of these artistic collaborative projects (Lacy, 1996). Learning Experiences We can learn from and through art. We may gain insight because of their form and subject matter. We may have our perceptions challenged by what constitutes art. We may also learn about ourselves through engaging in art projects with others while forming communities. We can learn about democratic participation, human interaction, and more fully explore the intrinsic conditions of all that is around us (Blandy, 1987; Bersson, 1987; jagodzinski, 1987; Habermas, 1983). We can experience living within the blurred boundaries of art and life (Kaprow, 1995). 61 Participants may question our massive consumer consumption after spending a day of picking garbage out of the Rio Grande River (or perhaps even from reading a media account of the ritual). When working with a group of individuals over a long period of time, one learns about communication, compromise, media presentation and interpretation. When working with artists, and others in the realm of the visual and performing arts, a discussion, and understanding of aesthetic consideration, will develop. There is rich opportunity for learning to occur through participation in many of the described art projects. Individuals and groups were given the chance to gain new skills, acquire new knowledge about their environment, and look within themselves in order to challenge their perceptions about the world, others and themselves. It is through these elements, that art projects become educational. Charles Garoian (1999) tells us: A radical form of pedagogy, performance art teaching takes its cues from the exploratory and experimental strategies employed by artists throughout this century (Apple, 1995, p. 121 and White, 1995, p. 133). The interdisciplinarity and interculturality of performance art represents a context for curriculum, instruction, and evaluation that is divergent, open, complex, and contradictory in character. Rather than universal absolutes, this pedagogical method seeks a diversity of images, ideas, perspectives, and interpretations, (p. 29) Although the potential for learning is evident through this chapter, my literature review was not able to make clear what the impact was that these art projects had on participating individuals, nor do we know the degree of participation, in the described collaborative art projects. We do not know the power structures that existed within their group dynamics, nor do we know the nature of their collaborations. Who lead, who followed, who was included, and who was left out? Who stayed, who dropped out and why? Was it all as democratic as it seemed? Who was affected? And, what did anyone learn from it all? These questions still require consideration and answers in order that we might have a better understanding of art of this genre. Turning Point, a collaborative community-based performance art project, held in common many similar goals to other art projects broadly described in this chapter. The project claimed to be collaborative, and sought to bring people together to form a community with a common goal. Turning Point also set out to express the thoughts and concerns of its community members to the larger public. Turning Point and Under Construction brought an art performance to the public. Although Under Construction 62 was supposed to be accessible, by being free in a public location, it was also inaccessible to its audience, and even to some of its participants. Representation, and power come up repeatedly in this study. Voice is also a fundamental theme in this study. I have included voice under the theme of power, as voice is inherently a form of expression of individual power; just as silencing is the expression of one's power over another. As I come to more fully understand Lacy's art and mode of working, I am forced to question my own modus operandi as a researcher. Power, and representation are also issues that I have had to face in the research and the writing of this study. Where do Lacy's and my practices converge, where do they differ? What can we take from their similarities and differences to strengthen and improve our respective practices? In the next chapter, I will provide the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of this study. In describing the site of this case-study, I will tell what I recall from the day's events in Under Construction, and how I went about doing this research, my considerations and dilemmas along the way. As I have sought a 'behind the scene' account of the art projects described in this chapter -only to have been left wanting, I also required this of myself. In the following chapter, I tell my research tale, a behind-the-scenes account. 63 CHAPTER 3: B E T W E E N THE LINES - BEHIND THE SCENES "Learning is the creative act that takes place in the relationship between an event and understanding. To understand requires an interpretive act based on a risk-taking venture." El len Herda(1999, p. 137) "Human activity consists o f action and reflection: it is praxis; it is transformation of the world. A n d as praxis, it requires theory to illuminate it. Human activity is theory and practice; it is reflection and action. It cannot. . . be reduced to either verbalism or activism." Paulo Freire(1989, p. 106) Charles Garoian (1999) claims that performance art pedagogy represents the praxis of postmodern theory, and that Suzanne Lacy's community-based performances exemplify this pedagogy. In the first half of this chapter, I present the theory and methods that have informed my research practice. I have turned to feminist, performative, and emancipatory pedagogies to help analyze my research data. I have described and reflected upon my role as a researcher, the researcher- participant relationships, as well the presentation of the research. The second half of this chapter deals with the study specifics, where did 'it' happen, what happened, who took part in these performance art projects (Turning Point and Under Construction) and how did they become part of this study? What form did the data take? I also introduce the two key research sites in this case: Turning Point project, and the performance Under Construction. I have tried to expose theory that has influenced me or that comments on this type of work, so that readers don't have to read between the lines. I have also tried to tell my research tale in a way that reveals more than what I learned or came to understand, but the process I took to get there. Theoretical Grounds: Between the Lines I have grounded this case-study in a feminist constructivist perspective. I have also taken into consideration postmodern philosophy. Feminist theories and postmodern philosophies have informed the ways in which we think about research, how we conducted it and the ways we chose to report on it (Bloom, 1998; Brown, 1998; Flax, 1990; Fraser & Nicholson, 1990; Giroux,1994; Guba & Lincoln, 1994; hooks, 1984; jagodzinski, 1989; Kirsch, 1999; McLaren, 1988; Olesen, 2000). In moments of doubt, feeling alone with the issues I found myself facing during this study, I have been 64 reassured by Leslie Rebecca Bloom (1998), as she tells that other feminist researchers also, "grapple with concerns about ethics, reflexivity, emotions, positionality, polyvocality, collaboration, identification with participants, intersubjectivity, and our own authority as interpreters" (p. 2). I wanted to do good feminist research using a feminist methodology. I knew that by nature, this project was 'a case', bounded and exemplary in nature, yet case-study methodology didn't hold for me a deep enough fit for my study (Stake, 1995). I also considered approaching the study as a phenomenon, exploring the lived experience (van Manen, 1997). However, since phenomenology aims at "making explicit and seeking universal meaning" (van Manen, p. 19) it is in polar opposition to the postmodern rejection of grand narratives and pluralism, I abandoned it as a consideration. I ended up blending case-study and feminist methodologies. This combination didn't seem to be a huge stretch, more of an organic melding. However, Gesa Kirsch (1999) tells us that "feminist principles of research implies, no single methodology is feminist in itself, nor have feminists invented new research methods. Rather, it is a feminist perspective, including a commitment to improve women's lives and to eliminate inequalities between researchers and participants that characterizes feminist research" (p. 5). This troubled me as Bloom (1998) published Under the sign of hope: Feminist Methodology and Narrative Interpretations. In her book, Bloom explicates a fairly well considered feminist methodology. Though Yvonna Lincoln (1997) had already assured me that there is no 'getting it right', I didn't want to get it wrong. So, I examined my practice according to Kirsch's feminist principles, and Bloom's feminist methodology, while situating the study as a case. Within a postmodern context, all is equally problematic. "Postmodernist context of doubt distrusts all methods equally. No method has a privileged status" (Lincoln, 1997, p. 38). Since postmodernism favours no method over another, I am left suspect of traditional case-study methodology and relied upon feminist principles to guide me. In the end, I have chosen what I thought would be a good research fit, a postmodern feminist case-study, framed by a constructivist paradigm. In a constructivist framework multiple realities are recognized. Reality is considered socially and experientially constructed (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Schwantd, 1994). Constructivism, within a postmodern context acknowledges that there is no 65 absolute truth, but truths that are more or less sophisticated (Lincoln & Guba, 1994; Schwandt, 1994). I used to seek to tell, to find the truth. I've attempted to tell no lies, and I found myself asking, 'whose truth was I trying to tell?' and wondering if perhaps my truth was fiction for someone else. This led me to think about the blurred edge between the lines of fiction and fact. I have come to accept the ambiguity in depictions so long as they resonate with me and others, particularly those who participated in this study. Bloom (1998) co-developed a feminist methodology (where methodology "is deeply rooted in the epistemological beliefs that a researcher brings to her inquiry") with one of her research participants known to us only as Olivia (p. 155). Olivia, a second year professor at a university worked with Kirsch as they went over Olivia's life experiences and eventually of their experiences together as researcher and participant. Bloom (1998) identifies the following five methodological concepts that were critical in her research: "the social construction of gender, the study of women's diverse lives, the contexts of the research question, the critical self-reflections of the researcher, and researcher relationships" (p. 139). To further explain these five categories, Bloom goes on to say that "gender as an analytic category remains powerful only in that it has the flexibility to be adapted when multiple subject positions and the complexities of life, nonunitary subjectivity, and interpersonal relationships are considered in relation to gender" (p. 144). In response to studying women's diverse lives, Bloom suggests that though many feminist researchers approach their "research participants with an empathetic heart and open mind, we must also approach the analysis of narratives with a somewhat sceptical or at least, un-idealistic eye, remembering that narratives never are able to represent either absolute truth or a lived experience" (p. 146). Based on feminist research literature and her own research experience, Bloom found that framing research questions from the researchers lived experience and the experiences of research participants to be equally important. Bloom also identifies the lived experiences of women, as primary research data, as an accepted feature of feminist methodology. "Another central goal of feminist methodology is that the researcher learns to openly locate her history, values, and assumptions in the text so that she, like those researched, are open to critical scrutiny by her readers" (Bloom, p. 148). Finally, Bloom identifies 66 what she considers the most critical component of feminist methodology, the research relationship and "the enlargement of the definition of rapport in the fieldwork process" (p. 150). From comparing and contrasting the previous proposed feminist methodology with the following feminist principles of research, we see that there is much overlap. The following are Kirsch's (1999) feminist principles of research: • ask research questions which acknowledge and validate women's experiences; • collaborate with participants as much as possible and so that growth and learning can be mutually beneficial, interactive and cooperative. • analyze how social, historical, and cultural factors shape the research site as well as participants' goals, values, and experiences; • analyze how the researchers' identity, experience, training, and theoretical framework shape the research agenda, data analysis, and findings; • correct androcentric norms by calling into question what has been considered "normal" and what has been regarded as "deviant"; • take responsibility for the representation of others in research reports by assessing probable and actual effects on different audiences; and • acknowledge the limitations of and contradictions inherent in research data, as well as alternative interpretations of that data. (p. 4) Kirsch is not the first feminist researcher to recommend these guiding principles, but calls for their adherence. I noted earlier in this section, these principles guided my research. Like other researchers who attempt to follow these guidelines, ethical dilemmas became a part of my research reality (Kirsch, 1999). Kirsch also acknowledges that some of these feminist principles are similar to those working in a postmodern tradition. "One thing shared by feminists and postmodern scholars, for example, is the antifoundational critique of knowledge. But one thing that is not shared is the tendency for some postmodern theory to drift into pure relativism. Feminist principles of inquiry enable researchers and readers to discern degrees of value; and feminist principles name these valuations as social constructions, not essential qualities" (Kirsch, p. 7). As I prepared to write this thesis, I came across Lincoln's (1997) highlighted words in my tattered textbook, it read, "we will never totally 'get it right.' Perfection is not a requisite for social science research, and the postmodern doubt which we share leads us to believe that 'getting it right' is a project best abandoned.. .Within our partial and situated knowledges, we can nevertheless still move outward, inclusive of our orientation, thinking not first and last about our own research productivity, but rather 67 about the selves we bring to our storytelling lives. In moving outward, we can engage both our own multiple and complex selves, and also those whom we would speak: our subject-topics and respondents, our audiences, and our and others' texts" (p. 52). These words informed and aided my directions and actions in finding ways to manage this project. "Qualitative feminist researchers, in making women's lives and contexts problematic, should openly render their own practices problematic" (Olesen, 2000, p. 238). I find this task inevitable, i f not unavoidable. As I explore the artistic model used in Turning Point and Under Construction, I find myself also reflecting on my research practice and teaching practices. I question my biases, assumptions and my actions. What have my power relations been in this study? Have I provided the spaces for research participants to be heard? Have I provided an acceptable representation of their words, their experiences? I have attempted to be clear about where their experiences and my own converge. By hearing from these different voices and including them in this narrative account, I aim to bring about a deeper understanding of the multiple experiences in this project. Feminisms What feminism means for women today is different from what it has meant in the past. Though our struggles differ, they are struggles none the less. Because North American women have officially gained many equal rights, many young women today are under the impression that feminism is no longer necessary. They believe that feminists don't speak for them, though there are multitudes of feminisms. Some feminists aim to provide an opportunity for social change through creating a distance in which to critically analyze existing gender arrangements. The work of feminist social constructionists focuses on the material living conditions of women (Schwandt, 1994). Jane Flax (1990) reminds us that "feminist theory by itself cannot clear such a space. Without feminist political actions, theories remain inadequate and ineffectual" (p. 40). Turning Point as a feminist art project embodied the effort to materialize feminist goals through a collaborative project. Turning Point's goals were emancipatory in nature as they sought to empower young women, and give them voice while co-opting the mass 68 media into presenting their story in a favourable light -so that they might challenge media representation of young women. It is not possible to truly understand Turning Point or its related performance Under Construction without taking into account feminist theories. From the multiple feminisms written about and discussed, not one, to my knowledge has overtly embraced perspectives of young woman. Often feminist voices we hear claim to speak for those younger, as they claim to speak for all women. Speaking for others was an issue that wound its way through the content of the performance in question, as well as through my research practice, and writing (Bloom, 1998; Denzin, 1997; Kirsch, 1999; Jayati, 1999; Lincoln, 1997; Lather 1995; Lather & Smithies 1997; Tisdell, 2000; Weiler, 1995a, 1995b). We need to consider the implications of this "polyphonic chorus of author/selves, subjects and participants, audiences, and texts" (Lincoln, p. 38). Lincoln also tells us that: Our friends and critics alike demand that they see evidence that our representational and 'othering' practices have not done violence to our respondents and their lives. They look for proof against having acted colonially or in ways which further marginalize or disadvantage. Our critics are quick to locate ways in which we have fenced round the center to keep strangers out. Often this means that voices other than the author's need to be heard, (p. 48) In order that we attend to the above requirements, Lincoln tells us that we need to seek out these voices and find appropriate and sensitive ways to bring them into our texts. Participants will need to recognize their voices in our texts, whether they co-author them or not, and find them both meaningful and honest. We must avoid misrepresenting those who gave of their time, energy and themselves to partake in our research projects. Rather than simply reaching from our adult lives into our childhood memories, we need to reach out to girls today, and listen to them speak. Feminist research needs to include the voices of our female youth. We cannot deny them the authority of their own voices. What we can do is to include them in our research, and provide spaces within our studies where they can be heard, all the while taking care not to misrepresent them. I believe for feminist educators and researchers, listening to our youth is very important. Yet, feminism, for many youth, has connotations that have alienated them. I asked some of the young women participants from Turning Point what their perceptions were of feminism. Seeing as Turning Point was considered a feminist project, the 69 responses I received were not what I had expected. In their own terms, they let me know that feminists did not indeed speak for them. What a dilemma. How could all forms of feminism have forgotten those on the verge of maturity? They are our daughters, nieces and friends. Even when we all seem to be speaking the same feminist language, echoing each others concerns, many of us consider ourselves to be feminist, while many of these youth reject this title, as they reject many things from the 'adult' world. Actions of feminism are more relevant to them than are the titles. As a way to come to understand the experiences of the participating young women, I had to consider the interpretation of their narratives, our researcher -participant relationships, and my personal narratives as well. I have taken into account multiple perspectives of this project, by listening to others, some that see this as a feminist project, as well as others who adamantly do not. I do not make universalizing claims about the nature of young women, nor about their social environment. This study is about a specific project and an accompanying performance event whose characteristics may resonate with other projects and events. Also, the experiences and opinions expressed by the women study participants may resonate with this study's audience. Jane Gaskell, Arlene McLaren & Myra Novogrodsky (1989) tell us that "There is no one place where women stand, and feminism means understanding the ways women have been silenced and women's experiences has been misrepresented to themselves and to others" (p. 39). Quasi-metanarrative feminist theories have been criticized for insufficiently attending to historical and cultural diversity, and falsely universalizing features of the theorists own era, culture, class, sexual orientation and ethnic group (hooks, 1984; Fraser & Nicholson, 1990; Olesen, 2000; Weiler, 1995). Social theories stemming from early feminist research tended to be totalizing or essentialist, as they sought to define key factors explaining sexism cross-culturally. Feminism Nancy Fraser and Linda Nicholson (1990) examine feminism and postmodernism by considering the relationship between philosophy and social criticism. Where postmodernists have focused on "elaborating antifoundational and metaphilosophical perspectives", feminists have prioritized social criticism over philosophy (p. 20). "Concerned with the difficulties of ever producing more than a partial story of women's 70 lives in oppressive contexts, postmodern feminists regard 'truth' as a destructive illusion" (Olesen, 2000, p. 225). These two tendencies have complementary strengths and weaknesses and provide important criticisms of each other. Feminist Pedagogy Feminist pedagogy as seen in art education is linked to new goals of collaborative, and socially responsive art practices. Rita Irwin (1999) tells us that, "feminist pedagogy seeks to transform social and institutional relations through the removal of oppressions inherent in societal structures, stereotypes, and prevailing ideologies. Although feminist pedagogy is concerned with gender relations, it is not limited to that critique. Creating a liberating learning environment promotes a democratic process wherein learners are directly involved in an inquiry process" (p. 37). Irwin also tells us that "Pedagogues and learners alike become actively involved in the act of inquiry within an interactive environment of collaboration" (p. 37). Elizabeth Tisdell (1998) tells us that feminist pedagogy is about education for women in various environments, and that feminist pedagogy is also about women's stories. "It is about using stories and examples from real life in educational situations to facilitate both women's development and structural social change for women" (Tisdell, 2000; 182). Feminist pedagogy appears to be a valid way to look at Turning Point and Under Construction as they both dealt with the stories and learning of young women. Suzi Gablik (1993) tells us that where modern art was founded on "notions of radical autonomy and art for art's sake, the politics of a connective aesthetics is very different" (p. 131). Though a modernist framework has been well defined, Gablik tells us that "we do not have a process-oriented framework for those for whom the world consists of dynamic interactions and interrelational processes" (p. 163). In this new aesthetic, relationships are given authority, empathy is encouraged, and concrete social change is more desired over merely symbolic potential. Gablik tells us that we need to change our aesthetics to correlate with social good and change our ways thinking to include a "methodology of participation" (p. 178). New goals for art include: "closeness, instead of distancing; the cultivation of ecocentric values; whole-systems thinking; a developed discipline of caring; an individualism that is not purely individual but is grounded in social relationships and also promotes community and the welfare of the whole; an 71 expanded vision of art as a social practice and not just a disembodied eye" (Gablik, 1993, p. 181). "Connective aesthetics and feminist pedagogy overlap in many ways. Both are concerned with collaboration, community building, caring, social purpose, listening, dialogue, modeling, taking responsibility, nurturing, and social action" (Irwin, 1999, p. 37). Irwin tells us that it is not sufficient to look at collaborative art pieces, we need listen to their messages. "We need to hear these collaborations through a listener centered, connective aesthetic combined with feminist pedagogy. We need to listen, and to be listened to, as we learn to connect with one another and our environment" (Irwin, 1999, p. 39). Turning Point, from its inception, called for this collaborative social interaction and focus on collective voices and stories. I found clear examples of the desire for connective aesthetic art production as I read through sketchbooks1 from an early group of Turning Point girls where they answered the question: Why do you want to do this as a group? (this being the art project/performance). Though they were all thoughtful statements, I have selected a few to represent what seemed to be said by the group. The sketchbooks were gathered by the assistant producer of the project. Some pages were removed from the sketchbooks and bundled into common topics. As a result these pages are entirely anonymous and I don't know if these anonymous sketchbook pages, written with coloured markers, correspond to my study's participants. Rather than leaving each quotation the same, or marked with a number, I decided to simply change the font for each girl's quote. The following selection of girls' narratives are from their sketchbooks gathered after an early Turning Point planning workshop: We are a group of girls working together to promote understanding of ourselves and each other. We want to create a number of performances which will relate our stories and experiences to the rest of society. W e want to do this as a group so as to gain the collective ideas and inspirations of various young women. To find those who can, if not relate to or feel what we have been through, empathize with our personal experiences. There is a jewel or power within each of us, however, together we can be strong c h e e s e . We want to do this as a group because we are all joined by a common thread and by common issues that we all care about strongly. Besides, we will make a bigger impact if we act together and work well as a team. I feel that we need to change the way society treats us. 1 Refer to page 96 of this document for information relating to gaining research access to participants. 72 As a group, we have collective ideas, thoughts and personal experiences. Together as a group we have a strong voice and can hopefully let other young women know that they are an important part of Canadian society. We want to create a performance that will acknowledge the struggles and achievements of young women across Canada. Why we (the group) are doing this: • to form a collective conscious in order to make decisions and create ideas in ways which pertain to the community of young women which we as a group of 30 represent in the midst of our larger community. • In order to bring together aM of our experiences into a mosaic of experience. • To make a collectively strong statement that will show the many faces of young women to the outside community. • To enjoy ourselves amongst one another and realise our value. We want to do this because we want to go on TV and because we get four hundred dollars each but best of all we get to speak out against discrimination against women, say we are more than just reminders of sex and 'cause I like to doodle on my hands and cause we all do. (participant's emphasis) As a group, we represent a diverse group of young women with different ideas, issues and backgrounds. However, we, as a collective, have much in common, (being young women in Vancouver) and though this project we hope to recognize our common ground and celebrate our differences, raise awareness concerning our issues, respect our heritage, create art blah blah blah blah... WE WANT TO DO THIS AS A GROUP BECAUSE WE ARE A BUNCH OF YOUNG WOMEN GIRLS -WHICH IS STRONGER THAN JUST OF ONE PERSON. W E WANT TO RELATE OUR|STORiES| TO THE PUBLIC BECAUSE WE FEEL THAT THEY SHOULp-W?^«ARED. W E NEED TO MAKE CANADA AWARE OF THE ISSUES WHICH AFFECT US. DIVERSIFY (participant's emphasis) (excerpts from anonymous Turning Point sketchbooks, dated August 23, 1996) I have transcribed their written words, and interpreted them with font and other word processing tools. However, I am disappointed with the sanitization of this process, losing the flavour of these notes and sketches. The following page is my response to this sterility of form and richness of content. The segments of text from the girls sketchbooks have been combined and then over-layed over a coloured doodle from one of the sketchbook pages. 73 are- *v < toaether tc yrPHurte, MwltritAtuf}-create. fl- nuynper of perfprtniincei W k i Xveriences to the- rest vfwc.xe.tu. groc we represent a diverse group of young women with and backgrounds. However, we, as a collective, have much in comr (being young women in Vancouver) and though this project we hope t o l i recognize our common ground and celebrate our differences, raise awaren concerning our issues, respect our heritage, create art blah blah blah blat W E W A N T T O D O THIS A S A GR< >l ip B E ( ^ © W B T G f R L S 4 W H I C H IS S T R p M i l I W E W A N T T O R E L A T E OURlgTQRI fc i THAT THEY SHOULD BE SHARED. T H E ISSUES W H I C H A F F E C T US. D I V E R S I T Y JUS1 UBLIC BECAUSE 1 D t®*Um CANADA As a group, we have collective ideas, thought trongvoia : and pers Togetlier as a group we have a strong voice and can hopefully , young women know that they are an important part of Canadian society. We want to create a performance that will acknozoledge the struggles and achievements of young women across Canada. K v Jhfj' T * 'wSt •'»"* l St E**<* t to do this as a group so as to gain We want to do this as a group because e collective ideas and inspirations of various we are all joined by a ig women. To find those who can, if not ilate to or feel what we have been through, empathize with our personal experiences. There is a jewel or power within each of us, however, together we can be strong cheese. md by common issues care a, strongly. Besides, we will mam a if we act together and work welt as"a I feel that we need to change the society treats us. * WehrVflflt to do this because we want to go on TV and because we get J foyf hundrajjdollars each but best of all we get to speak out against discrimination against women, say we are more than just reminders of sex ancJjBausel like to doodle on my hands and cause we all do. (the group) are doing this: jBBMBilJBBb M B B ^ ^ ^ ^ T - I 1 | l a collective conscious in order to make decisions and create ideas in vyays which pertain to the jniry of young women which we as a group of 30 represent in the midst of our larger comr •In order to bring toget ier all of our experiences into a mosaic of experience. •To make a collectively strong statement that will show the many faces of young women to the ot community. •To enjoy ourselves amongst one another and realise our value. m.^Jf M j H r (excerpts from anonymous Turniog Point sketchbooks, dated August 23,19%) Sandra Taylor (1995) tells us that a feminist pedagogy "needs to take account of the complexities involved in the construction of femininity i f it is to be effective. Thus it needs to draw on theoretical understandings about subjectivity and change, on research 74 on girls' subcultures, and also on research on popular cultural texts and femininity" (p. 4). Taylor calls for pedagogy that engages girls in a critical discourse of constructions of femininity so that, in the end they can construct their own femininity. "The key to empowerment of young women seems to lie in the development of a sense of social or collective identity as girls or young -women rather than merely in the development of a sense of identity as an individual" (Taylor, p. 15). In the early stages of Turning Point, about 30 young women were involved in a process of analysing stereotypes as presented by the media as well as their own. In group workshops they mapped out and discussed these images. Many of their suggested performance images include mirrors, images of women from the visual mass media, barbies, women holding hands, and women talking -telling stories. Based on this early analysis and potential site visits, they came up with some preliminary performance proposals. Some of their proposals include: Seawall: lots of girls and or women joined hands along the wall singing songs and reading stories and poems at the same time. Woodwards building: let us be an art exhibition to let people see how we feel & or how women are treated/portrayed in the media. Construction Site: for grand opening do a performance lots of people of all different races & backgrounds from different walks of life. SEAWALL: EACH HAVE BIG MIRROR AND FLASHLIGHT ALL AROUND SEAWALL TOGETHER TO GET ATTENTION, FLIP SIDE OF MIRROR WILL HAVE STORIES ABOUT MANY ISSUES ON THEM. W E WILL READ STORIES WITH MEGAPHONES TO ALL THOSE PASSING SEAWALL AND AT THE END SAY THESE STORIES AREN'T MYTH. THEY COULD HAPPEN TO EVERYONE INCLUDING YOU - THEN FLIP MIRROR TO SHOW THE LISTENERS THEIR OWN IMAGES TO EMPHASISE THE LAST POINT. W O O D W A R D S : Women & girls in history, mothers & daughters, reopening the past, relat ionships, shopping - talking manikins, girls dressed up like manikins tel l ing stories of women of the past, spot l ight manikins. Lost lagoon: Barges, boats, stor ies, camptire, l ights, fountain Library: tableau - visual display, people walking around with walkman, lasers and smoke. (participant's emphasis) Seawal l : Girls on roller-blades w/mirrors &stories written on back going around seawal l . Library: Throwing barbies on to roof. 2 n d f loor girls acting & looking like barbies. 1 s t f loor girls acting & looking like girls 75 L ib ra ry : I l ove t h e s h a d o w s W o m e n a r e s h a d o w s m a t e r i a l i z e on l y a s s e x u a l o b j e c t s on l y p u r p o s e . C r e a t e s h a d o w s , l i ne a u d i e n c e u p in r o w s a l o n g a l l v i e w i n g p l a c e s o n f l oo r s o f l oo r is e m p t y j u s t s h a d o w s - c u t o u t p a p e r f i g u r e s o n t o p o f g l a s s roo f & o n g l a s s w i n d o w s - s i d e s t o c r e a t e rea l i m a g e s & c a r t o o n s o f m e d i a . Seawall: Chains of people and things and unity, boats made of paper in the water. *Woodwards* we can use the window for displays and people. (participant's emphasis) Construct ion Site means MEN ewwww... Sleazy construct ion guys whist l ing and s tar ing. Queen Elizabeth Park: A funeral procession of Barbie dolls and other un-acurate female images @ Q.E. park, put pictures on a papered wall, as end of performance, take down paper, behind paper is mirrors. Seawall: Women joining hands on seawall after a hand painting session. SEAWALL (BY STANLEY PARK): USE THE SEAWALL AND HAVE WOMEN OF REAL SELVES STAND ON WALL UNITED W/HANDS AND BELOW ON BEACH HAVE THE BODY IMAGE/WOMEN IN MEDIA PORTRAYALS. DURING A CERTAIN TIME, USE LIKE A BIG BLANKET OR PARACHUTE AND COVER ALL THE PORTRAYALS ON THE BEACH, SHOWING, THE "HIDING OF FALSE WOMEN FOREVER" - CAN ALSO DO @ Q.E. (anonymous Turning Point sketchbook notes on site and performance suggestions, Aug, 20, 1996) The group visited numerous sites to consider for the performance, including: the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, Botanical Gardens; Queen Elizabeth Park, City Hall, Commercial Drive; China town; Seawall/Stanley Park; Woodward's; Ford Theatre; Vancouver Central Library; Roundhouse Community Centre; and a construction site. Out of 30 girls, only two suggested the use of the Construction site, most of them didn't even comment on it at all. The seawall at Stanley Park, Woodward's, and Queen Elizabeth park were clearly favoured by the girls. The Library was also high on their list of possible sites. In the end, the construction site of The Residences on Georgia was selected because, according to Lacy "We really liked the idea of girls on construction sites. That stuck as the idea, so off we went to find a construction site" (in Cramp, 1997, p. 5). Lacy (Dec, 14, 1996) drafted a document in which she lists the Vancouver Library, A construction site and, David Lam Park/ Roundhouse as the top three sites for consideration. Lacy identified the strength o f the site as a point o f juxtaposition o f young women in an unexpected location due to gender perceptions, and the metaphors "a changing Vancouver (diversity), building the future, forming the foundation and developing a physical sense of capability" (p. 2). Some of the girls did not like this idea 76 at all. One core girl wasn't sure who, or when, it was decided that this would be the final location - thinking that perhaps she had missed 'that' meeting. However, through discussions about the performance site, many of the core girls understood the metaphorical possibilities of the high-rise construction environment. Construction sites can be beautiful from a distance, with the sun glinting off their freshly cut steel, and partly installed glass. But upon closer inspection, the roughness becomes apparent and the beauty becomes a potential beauty. The building is not as complete as it first appears to be. Like a high-rise under construction, a girl at a distance may appear to be a confident woman, but as she approaches it becomes clear that the confidence is not yet there, she is still a girl -becoming a woman. The juxtaposition of young women and the male adult environment of a construction site, holds potential for engaging the audience into thinking about why is it such an unusual site for women to be, and asking where their perceptions about women and construction sites come from. A l l the while, they could become aware that these young women themselves are still under construction. And, these are the youth that will be responsible for building our future Vancouver. By the time the performance came around, there were no dissenting voices questioning the performance location, from the core girls. Everyone seemed to be pleased to see this performance happen. However, the discussion about the metaphors did not enter into the performance itself, for many of the new performance girls and audience, the meaning was lost. Feminist pedagogy, based on a desire for social change through activism is rooted in the history of women's liberation (Weiler, 1995a). In examination of Frierean and other liberatory pedagogy through a feminist pedagogical lens, Kathleen Weiler has identified three areas where these pedagogies can be expanded. "The first of these concerns the role and authority; the second addresses the epistemological question of the source of the claims for knowledge and truth in personal experience and feeling; the last, emerging from challenges by women of color and postmodernist feminist theorists, raises the question of difference" (p. 31). She has identified difference as a central category of feminist pedagogy. Assumptions by earlier feminist scholars that they could make claims and speak for all women, has been "exploded by the critiques of postmodern feminists 77 and the growing assertion of lesbian and women of color that the universal category 'woman' in fact meant 'White, heterosexual, middle-class woman,'" (Weiler, p. 31). Shared experiences form the basis for political analysis and action according to both early feminist and Freirean pedagogy (Weiler, 1995a). Another area of commonality with these two forms of pedagogy, is in the authority of the teacher. "The feminist teacher as intellectual and theorist find expression in the goal of making students themselves theorists of their own lives by interrogating and analyzing their own experiences" (p. 34). Turning Point claimed to focus on the girls' unique experiences -diversity (shared individual stories ). This was something the girls wanted to maintain. Yet, the shared experience was also in the forefront of Under Construction. The artistic director tells us that the goals of her work have been "definitely... to empower participants, to raise consciousness about certain shared conditions of being female" (Lacy in Gablik, 1993, p. 110). This was most obvious with the aesthetic elements of Under Construction. Red t-shirt uniforms, made this diverse group look the same. Being visually the same, their diversity was reduced if not eliminated. This was a common critique from the viewing audience and is noted by project manager and production producer Barbara Clausen (1998). The second key parallel is the question of the authority of the teacher - i n this case, the artist. Patti Lather (1991) tells us that we need to rethink the role of teachers who have liberatory intentions. Lather asks "how can we position ourselves as less masters of truth and justice and more as creators of a space where those directly involved can act and speak on their own behalf? How do we do so without romanticizing the subject and experience-based knowledge?" (p. 137). Though in this model of artistic construction, the artist consulted with participants and other stakeholders, right from the beginning, the artist maintained ultimate control and authority of the final image. This connects with Gablik's (1991) description of modernism where "the self is central; power is associated with authority, mastery, invulnerability and a strong affirmation of ego-boundaries -which is precisely what the modern artist's 'self came to convey" (p. 62). Gablik goes onto contrast the modern approach with a partnership model where "relationships are central, and nothing stands alone, under its own power, or exists in isolation, independent of the larger framework, or process, in which it exists" (p. 62). For 78 Gablik, "community is the starting point for new modes of relatedness, in which the paradigms of social conscience replaces that of the individual genius" (p. 114). With the artistic model as expressed in this work, it seems as though the artist is crossing a threshold from a modernist paradigm into the postmodern, and operating within a hybrid paradigm. The artist's work is responding to individuals and communities, but the ultimate authority lays with the visioning artist. Postmodernism It had been generally accepted that attainable objective truth is dead (Tom Barone, 2000). Tom Barone confirms the suspected demise of 'subjectivity' as well, "the term is no longer needed to serve as a foil for its discredited twin" (p. 166). Hal Foster (1996) criticizes Jameson's position as being too totalizing and not culturally sensitive. He also claims that the discourse around the death of the subject is now also dead. "The subject has returned in cultural politics of different subjectivities, sexualities and ethnicities" (Foster, p. 209). Postmodernism rejects both the omnipotent god-gaze of the Enlightenment and the neutrality of reason (Lyotard,1991; Foucault & Deleuze, 1986; Flax, 1990; Hartsock, 1996; Lather, 1991). Nancy Hartsock quotes Kum Kum Sangari when she describes postmodern theory as "the voice of epistemological despair" (p. 46). Postmodernism is the end of the grand narrative (Lyotard, 1971) and has been characterized as schizophrenic and pastiche, as well as linked to consumer capitalism (Jameson, 1984). Over the years, elements of postmodernism have been debated. Fraser and Nicholson (1990) argue that Lyotard's conception of social critics is "too restricted to permit an adequate critical grasp of gender dominance and subordination" or dominance and subordination along lines of race and class (p. 20). Researchers from various disciplines draw from postmodernism (not taken as an absolute, as it resists the very notion) as they construct their theoretical paradigms. Though postmodernism and its notion of multiple truths is far reaching, I was recently reminded of its limitations, in my practical lived experience. As I entered into the writing phase of my study, I was caught off-guard as I accepted default preferences of my word-processing program. Having given this just a little thought, I discovered the auto-correct feature has turned out to be little more than an ever-present positivist editor looming just below the surface of my screen -quietly 'correcting' my intended words -as they deemed 79 by a programmer elsewhere as being an incorrect way to write, or to think... .With each strike of an 's' following 'knowledge' to make i t ' knowledges, the bright red wavy line highlights my 'error'. I had to 'teach' it that feminism could also be plural, and that 'other' could be a verb as in 'othering', likewise with 'subject' in 'subjectivising'. This has been a little reminder to me, of how limited postmodernism has been in bringing about far reaching change, effectively challenging modernism's pervasive notion of an absolute truth, to spread the pluralism of postmodernism. There are commonalties among postmodernist and feminist theories as feminist theorists enter into and echo postmodernist discourses, deconstructing "notions of reason, knowledge, or the self and to reveal the effects of the gender arrangements that lay beneath their neutral and universalizing facades" (Flax, 1990, p. 41). In the early 1990s, Fraser and Nicholson (1990) critiqued universalizing feminist theory and called for a postmodern feminism that is explicitly historical, culturally and temporally specific. They suggest that methods used in postmodern feminist research be tailored "to suit the task at hand and use multiple categories when appropriate and forswearing the metaphysical comfort of a singular feminist method or epistemology" (p. 35). For Fraser and Nicholson (1990), in the postmodern era "legitimation becomes plural, local and immanent" (p. 23). A decade later, Virginia Olesen (2000) reminds us that the postmodern position has "produced an uneasy and sometimes anxious concern that the shifting sands of meaning, text, locale, and the continual proliferation of identities left no grounds for reform oriented research, reinforced the status quo, erased structural power as well as failed to address problems or to represent a cultural system" (p. 226). Amanda Coffey and Sara Delamont (2000) warn of the dangers that accompany liberation in postmodernism. "Whenever women intellectuals see their world differently from the elite men around them they are in danger of finding that a new theory has defined them out of existence. Paradigm shifts in dominant group ideology rarely benefit the muted subordinate group. Feminist scholars need to be alert to men changing the question" (p. 145). Simplicity is a myth when accompanying depth, or breadth for that matter. There is no clear path, no easy answer, but there may be questions so subtle in nature that they were previously overlooked. As I weave my way through the contradictions in the 80 research and theoretical literatures, I prepare for my research analysis. I soon became accustomed to and anticipated contradictions. Emancipatory and Critical Pedagogy Knowledge is dependent on culture, custom and historical specificity. "Some constructions of reality are legitimated and celebrated by the dominant culture while others clearly are not" (McLaren, 1988, p. 169). This notion echoes the conditions of a postmodern feminism as described by Fraser and Nicholson (1990). Critical educational theorists view school knowledge as historically rooted and socially constructed and is deeply entwined in a nexus of power relations (McLaren, 1988). Emancipatory knowledge helps us understand how social relationships are distorted and manipulated by power relations and privilege (McLaren, 1988). Hegemony, the process by which a dominating culture exercises its power over subordinate groups, serves to maintain power relations in the form of consensual social practice. We can see examples of consensual domination in our every day, from our legal system, schools, churches and families. Friere (1993) reminds us that knowledge of power imbalances is insufficient. Significant social change requires praxis, "reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed. The revolutionary effort to transform these structures radically cannot designate its leaders as its thinkers and the oppressed as mere doers'" (p. 107). Patti Lather (1995) identifies the "pressing need to turn critical thought into emancipatory action" (p. 303). Lather (1991) questions the limits of the reasoning mind to free the oppressed. Lather criticizes Stanley Aronowitz and Henry Giroux for positioning the "'oppressed' as the unfortunately deluded, and critical pedagogues as 'transformative intellectuals'...with privileged knowledge free of false logic and beliefs. Such a bald [sic] statement points out the profound dangers in attempting to speak for others, to say what others want or need, of performing the Grand Theorist" (p. 137). Aronowitz and Giroux called for educators to '"become transformative intellectuals rather than skillful technicians.'' What was now necessary was to 'link emancipatory possibilities to critical forms of leadership by rethinking and restructuring the role of curriculum workers"'(in Pinar et. al., 1995, p. 260). Lather's critique would seem to support the implementation of the feminist principle that: we 81 need to consider implications when we speak for others within our research as well as in our art productions. We also need to consider why we feel the need to speak for others in these contexts, and whether the author of the narratives can speak for themselves within in spaces we provide, or co-create. Garoian (1999) claims that "critical pedagogy of postmodern performance art consists of interdisciplinary and intercultural work. While interdisciplinarity empowers spectators /students to explore and challenge the discipline-based ideas of institutionalized culture, interculturality enables them to cross borders, to challenge the biases of ethnocentricities, and to develop a world where a diversity of cultural perspectives can coexist" (p. 42). Central to issues in Turning Point and this study is praxis. For Garoian, performance art pedagogy is the praxis of postmodern theory. He claims that "performance art espouses the critique of cultural codes and the development of political agency. A pedagogy founded on performance art represents the praxis of the postmodern ideals of progressive education, a process through which spectators/students learn to challenge the ideologies of institutionalized learning (schooled culture) in order to facilitate political agency and to develop critical citizenship" (p. 39). He explains that performance art pedagogy "represents the embodied expression of culture as aesthetic experience -that is, pedagogy as performance art and performance art as pedagogy" (p. 45). Moreover, Garoian claims that the collaborative performances directed by Suzanne Lacy are curriculum text. Garoian, identifies six strategies of performance art pedagogy. Holding Lacy's work as an exemplar, Garoian claims: Lacy's community-based projects correspond to the six strategies of performance art pedagogy. They represent the praxis of postmodern theory. Like an ethnographer, she enables a community to represent itself, to define its own concerns, its own identity. She fosters a public discourse that exposes and challenges linguistic misconceptions and stereotypes. She inspires political activism to resist cultural oppression. She creates a climate of social awareness and collective involvement. Her community performances attract and exploit the technological apparatus of the mass media to challenge its negative stereotyping with images that shed positive light on the community's identity. Finally, by re-positioning community activism as art, she enables an ecstatic awareness of body's cultural oppression and transformation. (128) Considering that Garoian published this work two years after this research had been conducted and was in the process of being written, I did not take it into consideration in the formation of my study, but have considered it in my writing and final analysis. I also 82 have to note that the basis for his claims come from reports of Lacy's performances and interviews with the artist (which incidentally were concurrent with the Turning Point project). I also have to admit, that I was initially seduced by the potency of descriptive reports, videos and presentations. But after having witnessed a performance, and been behind the scenes, I feel that I have a more informed and balanced perspective than I had initially. Power is a key theme in my research in three key ways. In the first place, the claimed content of the Turning Point deals with the media representation -misrepresentation of young women. Secondly, there is the power relation between the directing artist and the art project participants to consider. Finally, there is the researcher-participant relationship that also warrants exploration. Knowledge statements are human constructions of models of reality (Polkinghorne, 1997). The knowledge that I bring to this study is contextualized, bounded locally and temporally, yet remains in flux. Knowledge of the human condition is incomplete and will remain a partial and situated tale. Representation of knowledge, and lived experience is also a key in this research where: participants represent themselves in self-published zines ; participants analyse mass media representation of women; representation of the young women in Turning Point and in Under Construction; finally, how these young women are represented in this thesis. Performing and Reporting Research Joe Kincheloe (1997) describes the struggle within qualitative research and its use of narratives: As postmodernist theory has rejected modernist grand narratives along with their totalizing claims -that is, the rejection of omnifictionalization as a narrative act - a space for a new look at narratology has opened. Moving beyond the empirical belief that social reality is both perceivable and coherent in its structure, qualitative researchers have struggled to fill the liberatory space. While the replacement of monological holism with heteroglossic textual interpretations and polyphonic voices has been helpful on a number of levels, such innovations have not necessarily revolutionized qualitative research narratives. Until such 2 A zine is a non-profit self-publication, often produced on a photocopier. It is a hands-on print and image document. The term zine (pronounced zeeri) comes from the term 'fanzine'. These are often very individual and quirky in nature and form (Vale, 1996). See Appendix II for a few sample pages from Turning Point Zine 1. 83 narratives and their formations are reconceptualized, realist narratives will continue to imperialize consciousness by constructing a particular subject position for the reader. As realist narratives resolve contradictions, an unproblematized hallucinatory social whole is created, (p. 71) Within our positions as researchers, we need to acknowledge that the power to narrate or represent is equal to the power to silence and misrepresent. There is not a clear distinction and care must be taken to ensure we do not end up perpetuation current oppressive systems. We need to render our own research practices problematic as we render problematic women's lives and contexts (Olesen 2000). There are no distinct edge between our lives and our research, and we need to acknowledge this explicitly in our research and our writing. Tidy compartmentalizing of our work and our lives is no longer possible. Some artists blur boundaries between disciplines when they describe their artwork as cultural analysis. Others describe their work as social and political actions. Artistic and academic disciplines no longer have discrete edges (Garioan, 1999; Straw, 1997). More and more, works of art, criticism, and scholarship have come to define their projects through cultural analysis. Across these activities, we increasingly find the deployment of a shared set of analytical tools, or reference to a common body of authors and texts (Berland, Straw & Tomas, 1997, p. 4). In theatrical improvisations, the actor is given a situation in which to respond. There is no script, but there is a theme. Conclusion comes naturally as the actors respond to one another. A successfully improvised skit will engage the audience in the moment. The flow of the scene shifts as each actor slips into unexpected material. It is the unexpected situations and the equally unexpected responses that bring richness to the performance. Actions in the social world are experientially guided and responsive to changing contexts without the necessity to 'stop and think' before the act. Research practice can be characterized as a dance in which investigators respond to the opportunities and challenges of their projects through 'felt meanings'. (Gendlin quoted in Polkinghorne, 1997, pp. 11) Like actors in situated improvisations, we live our lives. Surprises come our way and we react. We create new situations and others respond. Within our established expectations of daily events, there is chance for the unexpected. Researchers who proceed inductively, with eyes and ears open to the voices and perspectives of others, 84 hear the unexpected and see the unimagined (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule, 1997 p. 11). This is when the boundaries between life and research blur and become even more arbitrary. In this way researched-lives, respond to and grows with each new situation. Norman Denzin (1997) tells us that "in dealing with the truths of life's fictions, the dividing line between fact and fiction is tested, and reality and the text become one. Narrative, in its many storied, performance, and textual forms is all that we have. [...] There are no stories out there waiting to be told and no certain truths waiting to be recorded; there are only stories yet to be constructed" (p. 266). Though I have been aware of my own performance throughout this research, I have only now begun to feel comfortable with telling my performance tale. I have to acknowledge my own learning experience through this research, not only have I learned about others, but I have learned about myself and have found my own voice. I agree with Carolyn Ellis ((2000) that "vulnerability can be scary, but it also can be the source of growth and understanding" (p. 752). Writing this research has been an intensely personal task, I feel intellectually exposed and personally vulnerable. This personal discovery happened well into the writing process. Though intrigued by embodied performance text, at this point in time, I am determined to see this script through to its final pages rather than abandon it. As I construct this text I do so with consideration of my audience(s). The audience, in this case, are the readers of this text, including the professional (a group of scholars), and the participatory (research and art project participants) (Denzin, 1997, p. 188). Who do we hope will read our reports? How can we make our reports accessible and meaningful to our intended audiences. This may mean more than one version of the same report, or it may mean that sections within the report take on differing tones. If we wish to retain the inclusive essence of our research, then we must consider the language and form we use when reporting narrative studies. Otherwise, resulting articles would be removed from the reality known by the participants and the researcher during the acts of research. Inclusivity in our research, through the use of narratives, would then be limited to the acts of data collection. If your ontology proclaims inclusiveness, in those cases, would be hypocritical, choosing when the participants are included and yet excluded from discourse. Particularly in research that claims to be inclusive, participants must be 85 considered when preparing a research text, as they may wish to read the findings of the research which they personally helped to inform. I believe along with others (Lincoln, 1997; Ellis, 1997; Polkinghorne, 1997) that it is necessary for research reports be accessible to the participants. If the language is elusive to them, then it will only serve to alienate them from the project. Often in qualitative research, participants dedicate a lot of time and personal energy. I would question then, who would such research reports serve if the participants who were supposed to benefit from the project, were not seriously considered as also a valid audience of research reports? That is not to say each report must be accessible to everyone, but that some of the report writing should be considerate of research participants. Feminist theories have informed the ways in which social science research is conducted and reported (Denzin, 1997; Ellis, 1997, 2000; Flax, 1990; Fraser & Nicholson 1990; hooks, 1984; Lincoln, 1997; Miller, 1991). Postmodern philosophies have also effected the way many of us perceive our research practices (jagodzinski, 1989; Fraser & Nicholson, 1990; McLaren, 1988; Giroux, 1994; Guba & Lincoln, 1994, 1997; Lather, 1991, 1995; Ribbens & Edwards, 1998). Research can respond and grow throughout the duration of the study, and can be polyvocal and consider multiple audiences and multiple perspectives. It can be, and should be, inclusive and accessible. Finally, we can talk about our research and present our narratives -free from the grand narrative, and do not have to claim 'the answer' to 'a problem'. It is not always easy, nor obvious where we need to stop our studies. If we are still looking for 'conclusions' this task is even harder. The conclusion of a study doesn't mean that we have found the answer but may have found the appropriate moment to pause and reflect knowing that research and study is ongoing. I often relay to others the events in my life as unified tales. Tom Barone (2000) tells us that we do not "view time as a series of isolated moments, each one disconnected from the other. Instead we tend to make sense of the moments of our lives by placing them within the context of all previous instants of awareness" (p. 123). We edit our stories so that they include details that are relevant to the plot, and we exclude those details that are of less importance. Where life events are somewhat chaotic and make for 86 a messy story -narratives are our framed edited tales that we construct through careful selection and edition so we can make sense of our tales, find meaning in them, and come to understandings. Donald Polkinghorne (1997) connects commonly practiced life storytelling with the function of narrative discourse in academic research. Narrative configuration cannot impose "any emplotted order on the selected events. The final story must fit the events while at the same time bringing an order and meaningfulness that was not necessarily apparent in the events as it happened" (Polkinghorne, p. 15). For Polkinghorne and others (Ellis, 1997; Ricoeur, 1984; van Manen, 1997) "researchers speak with the voice of the storyteller rather than the impersonal voice of the logician or the arguer. They speak in the first person as the teller of their own tale" (Polkinghorne, p. 15). "Narrative is the natural mode through which human beings make sense of their lives in time. Narrative discourse produces stories whose subject matter is human action" (Polkinghorne, 1997, p. 13). Narrative has been used as a means to document stories within research. One form of narrative is eloquently told by Ellis (1997) as she reveals her provoking autoethnographic tales that are simultaneously personal and academic. Like performance artist, Allan Kaprow (1993), her work also explores the intersection of work and life, the blurring of life's boundaries. For me the research process was a personal act -as is this writing. I kept this sense of exposure in mind as I went through participants' written and audio narratives. Lincoln (1997) describes texts as: testaments to the facts of our existence, to having "been there," and to the many voices of the individuals with whom we have interacted. But much is being demanded of postmodern texts. Beyond being testamentary, they are expected to fulfil purposes never premised until the later half of this century [last]. Readers and theoreticians alike ask that texts "come clean" with author's partial, situated, but authentic self, preferably the "self that showed up to begin the fieldwork, the self that accomplished the fieldwork, and the self who left changed (since authentic fieldwork inevitably changes a person), p. 48 Voice Embedded in much of feminist research are the notions of inclusivity and the empowerment of women. One of the key issues that I have faced in doing and writing this research is a common dilemma among feminist researchers (Bloom, 1998; Brooks, 2000; Brown, 1998; Kincheloe, 1997; Kirsch, 1999; Lather, 1995; Lincoln, 1997), that is, 87 how do we provide a place where women's voices can be heard "without exploiting or distorting those voices?" (Olesen, 2000). Though I have requested participants to read through, edit, and comment on their narratives, I did not receive many replies. Some were merely grammatical changes, while others included current reflections on their experiences in the art project and performance. I cannot be certain that what I have written today, is true for each of the study participants. I have tried to be inclusive, but still find myself questioning my practices. Kay Standing (1998) had similar responses from her study participants. She 'tidied' their transcribed narratives in response to their feedback on the transcriptions. But Standing also raises an important consideration for those of us who engage in recorded conversations and interviews that we later transcribe, she notes "we do transcribe our participants' words as they were spoken -their spoken language enters the text to make our work 'authentic' and real -our spoken language does not" (p. 192). While writing this chapter, I ran into Alix, (an adult study participant you will be introduced in the next chapter) outside our neighbourhood coffee shop. It had been sometime since we had run into each other. We quickly caught up with each others' lives, the ages of our toddler daughters; the states of our home-renos; the improvement of the neighbourhood and who is also living nearby; she has changed jobs; and I am finishing this thesis. At this point, she told me, T was a lot of help wasn't I,' sarcastically. She went on to tell me how she had never read her own spoken words before, and that she 'sounded like such an idiot'. I of course disagreed with her, because I genuinely thought that she was fairly articulate and interesting. She was apologetic and told me that she just wanted to 'completely edit things out'. I assured her that it wasn't too late. She made it clear that she wanted to have her text, as Standing said, 'tidied up'. And again, here I am using our candid conversation as an example of how participants may feel when they read their spoken conversation for the first time. Perhaps this is related to why many of them don't make changes or respond. Perhaps, for some it is too embarrassing to read, let alone comment on. Alix and I have planned to get together to visit and let our girls play. Occasionally, in the written narratives, I included my short clipped comments, or responses, but only to maintain the flow of the written conversation. At the time, I did 88 not consider what I had to say as being important to the content of the document to warrant its inclusion in the final text. Now, I know that my questions need to be visible in the text so as to get a fuller picture of what the dynamic in the interview was, and why a participant might have responded in the way she did. I know that I cannot present the 'whole picture' of what happened or fully describe their collective experience, but I hope to present a mutually agreeable narrative of the events in general, and to include contradictions and dissenting voices. There are researchers who claim to be inclusive of their participants, and in an attempt to be true to those individuals, use narrative as a tool to record the stories and voices of participants (Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery & Taubman, 1995; Blenky, Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule, 1996; hooks, 1987; Lather & Smithie, 1995). Joe Kincheloe (1997) tells us that one "does not discover a voice that was there all the time but fashions one in negotiation with his or her environment. In the context of inquiry, critical constructivism intervenes in the fashioning process by pointing out the omnipresence of power" (p. 60). Yvonna Lincoln (1997) reminds us that "'voice' is not something we 'discover' for 'subject voices'; it is a process of discovery we may start, but which they complete" (p. 44). Ann Brooks (2000) uses the term giving voice as a term to articulate a previously unnamed experience. For Brooks, the term developing a voice is: a process of evolution, of gradual unfolding, with voice taking on different forms as it develops. As a metaphor, the idea of developing a voice is an attempt to illuminate how women learn to express their identities as they change and develop. A woman may need to learn more about herself in order to express herself more fully and truthfully. In turn, as she develops a voice and listens to her own words, a woman may learn more about herself, and this new knowledge may further contribute to changes in her identity. The expression of identity may not always be consistent with women's internal experience of self, and one challenge may be for women to develop a voice, a means of self-expression, that corresponds to who they know themselves to be. (p. 93) Brooks also tells us about how upper-middle class girls reclaim their voices after choosing silence in order to fit with social expectations for female behaviour. She found that poor and working class girls also chose silence, but it was to protect themselves from gossip amongst their peers. The rediscovery of their voices came after a recognition that "voice is emotional and physical, not simply intellectual" (Brooks, 2000, p. 96). Voice is a particularly powerful image because it places the powerless in a proactive role. In terms of learning, voice as power suggests that women learn to 89 use voice in response to their experiences of power relationships. Their use of voice may conform to inequities of power; they may also learn to use voice in ways that subvert power... .The metaphor of voice as power can be expanded to encompass women's individual and collective voices. Women can claim voice and power as individuals and as a group, and these individuals and collective efforts are frequently intertwined. (Hayes, 2000. p. 102) Voice, as individual expression as well as collective expression, was integral to Turning Point and Under Construction. In the following chapters, we will read the narratives of younger and older participants. The younger participants were often focused on being heard, while the older study participants were focused on providing space for these young women to be heard. The goals of these connected projects, aimed to empower young women, and to give them voice. There were numerous conversations among Turning Point participants during its development and their voices ultimately provided the audio focal point of Under Construction. In the following chapters I have tried to understand how this act meets the criterion of empowerment as claimed by Garoian (1999). Narrative offers an authenticity to participants' voices, and a flexibility in the collection of data. However, once the narratives are analyzed and synthesized they are then reported in formats accepted by most academic serials, often exclusive of participants as any other academic report (Sawicki, 1996; Polkinghorne, 1997). Kirsch (1999) tells us that researchers "inevitably interpret and appropriate participants' stories in the context of their work, filter interviewees' comments through their theoretical framework, and analyze participants' narratives based on their own knowledge, training, and lived experiences...Even feminist researchers who deliberately set out to validate women's experiences can face interpretive conflicts when interviewing women who do not share their values" (p. 49). Even though I acknowledge these dilemmas in this research, it does not free me from the problem itself. On the contrary, since I am aware of these dilemmas, I feel bound to respond to them in my work. There is no consensus on how or whether we should include research participants in research analysis, or how we include them in the text. Kirsch (1999) tells us that "we should aim to include the voices of others more actively in our research by consulting with them. Assuming interpretive responsibility would not only mean presenting voices in dialogue, but also providing readers with access to the process that shaped the dialogue" (p. 85). Kirsch also tells us that we need reveal to our readers our 'balancing 90 act' as we attempt to "represent the voices of others in our texts with efforts to engage in critical analysis and interpretation of research data" (p. 100). While considering engaging participants in the acts of data analysis, Jayati Lai (1999) find that bringing participants into the research analysis process problematic as she perceives it to be "a necessarily incomplete and exploitative fashion in an attempt to redress this power [researcher -participant] imbalance" (p. 123). Lai also is wary about bringing in her research subjects' voices to "selectively buttress my arguments" (p. 117). Issues around inclusion, representation, and reflexivity are every present in current research practices. I ask, have I made room in this text for dissent? Did I cover my ears, conscious or not, to what I didn't want to hear? I recall hearing criticisms of Under Construction from the larger community, at the time. Implicated by my connection to the project, I responded by defending it, defending Lacy and dismissing the criticisms as simply 'misinterpretations'. I felt that the public just wasn't privy as to what was going on behind the scenes enough to make a valid judgement. In the end, or at this pause, I find that I occupy a space where conclusions are not easily drawn, and boarders blur. There is valid critique of this project, but it is not so easily made. Specialized language within an academic discipline may serve those from in the academy, but may discourage participants and other interested parties from engaging in any resulting dialogue. This is not only an act of domination, but also a great loss for potential discussions. There may be a chance for rich exchange of ideas if participants and others, previously excluded due to inaccessible language used within the text, had a chance to engage with those who wrote the texts. If researchers who are consistently inclusive in their ontology and methodology report in such ways that participants feel welcome and engage in the dialogue brought about by the research (Lather & Smithies, 1997), then discourse will not remain exclusively in the domain. These researchers would not then be engaged in power relations where knowledge is power and access to the knowledge is controlled by a select few (Michel Foucault & Gilles Deleuze, 1990; Jana Sawicki, 1996). Research Narratives Narrative, only one of many forms of reporting, has been suggested as an alternate and inclusive form of presentation. Many researchers have sought to present 91 their work differently (Bloom, 1998; Coffey & Delamont, 2000; Denzin, 1997; 2000, Ellis, 1997, Ellis & Bochner 2000; Irwin, 1999; Kirsch, 1999; Lather & Smithie, 1995; Lincoln, 1997; Mauthner & Doucet, 1998). In the following section I describe the work of Patti Lather and Chris Smithies (1997) who sought to reflect multiple perspectives through a multi-layered text; and Mary Field Belenky, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, and Jill Mattuck Tarule (1997) who include a variety of forms in their presentations in order to engage and include their audiences in genuine discussion, and to add their voices to the overall discourse. Feminist academics, Patti Lather and Chris Smithies (1997) treated their report as a multi-layered text which included researchers' dialogue and reflections that flowed with and yet separate from the voices presented by the participants as well as the highlighted boxed information within the body of the text: interviews, research reports, journal entries, and their own insights collected over their inquiry. The layers run throughout their account of their research in Troubling the Angels. They shared the first desktop published form with the participants well before the book ever went to press. This unique form of research reporting is not unlike some easily digestible journalism, and is not visually or linguistically intimidating. The participants were then able to provide feedback to the form and the content to the researchers. Gesa Kirsch (1999) suggests that feminist researchers should ask themselves when writing research reports whether, "we are helping readers into new and, one would hope, more enlightened ways of reading when we wrote multi-vocal texts? Or are we just avoiding our responsibility as scholars to provide readers with the analysis and theory necessary to understand the students, teachers, classrooms, and forms of literacy we study? What responsibility do authors have to readers on the one hand, and to those they study on the other?" (p. 75). Kirsch also claims that writing multi-vocal texts is not enough. Scholars need to be clear as to their research values, goals and research effects. Feminist academics, Mary Field Belenky, Blythe McVicker Clinchy, Nancy Rule Goldberger, and Jill Mattuck Tarule (1997) describe a way of presenting their collaborative research project in a way that reflected both the content and the process of the research. Although some of their audiences expected solitary lectures, or standard 92 panel presentations, they found formats that made them and their audiences more comfortable. You can only talk about collaboration when you're on your on[sic] own; with the group, you can demonstrate it. Our style of interaction - bouncing ideas off one another as we talked, being playful with ideas and each other, sharing the job of moving the audience (or group) along, eliciting comments and ideas form those who sometimes thought they were just there to listen - tended to set the audience at ease. (Goldberger, 1997, p. xxi) They had come to dislike the format of traditional academic conference lectures. Talking at the audience, as is so often done, was not what they were interested in doing. Having completed an academic book, Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice and Mind, (1986) and being frequently asked to participate in lectures and conferences, they decided to do it differently. Instead of speaking at an "audience," we began to construe it as conversing with colleagues, working on questions that matter to all of us. Instead of disseminating knowledge and protecting our turf (our theory), we tried to involve others in questioning and expanding our ideas. We were not delivering a product; we were engaged in a process. (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule 1997, p. xxi) The following excerpt illustrates an interaction with their audience in the development of a dialogue. We were beginning to feel authentically "voiced" when we spoke about our work, finding ways to inhabit the expert role and to speak authoritatively while encouraging collaboration.... It became important to "use" our expert status as a tool to insure that there was a dialogue about the work. We worked hard to devise formats that could convey the spirit of our collaboration, creating workshop designs that replicated our process of collecting and analyzing data. For instance, we would begin by clustering people into very small groups to analyze interview data.... Participants were actively engaged in constructing a theory of knowledge, using the same methodology we had found so useful. By the time the whole group reconvened, everyone had had a good chance to develop and articulate their ideas in a small group. Even people who seldom speak in public places would find themselves contributing to a discussion in a large auditorium. (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger & Tarule 1997, p. xxii) Carolyn Ellis interrupted her own writing to comment (through writing) about her own writing process, the choice of voice that she was using to present her ideas. She questions her choices for the reader to consider her situation as well as the reader's writing practices. I found this section not only very enjoyable, but thought provoking. In 93 italics she states: "Wait a minute. Is this the way I want to tell this story? In an abstract mode ...This vocabulary, so familiar and comfortable to scholars, is inaccessible to readers outside the academy. Most people do not speak this way. Even as a member of this tribe, I sometimes feel alienated by this way of talking" (Ellis, 1997, p. l 15). She includes herself, as researcher and participant in her research and in the research report. This discussion on voice and representation is very important to my research as not only do Turning Point and Under Construction have these issues at their core, but I also had to consider them as I conducted and wrote about this research. Though I have tried to make the final report both accessible and rigorous, passages in the report should be familiar to study participants. Yet, the content should also be of use to educators, artists, and other researchers. I have considered the multiple, possible audiences that may be interested in the report. I have been thorough in my interpretation of the data. I prepare the final report while considering the work of academics Patti Lather & Chris Smithies (1997), Carolyn Ellis (1997), Yvonna Linclon (1997) and Mary Field Belenky, Nancy Rule Goldberger, Blythe Mcvicker Clinchy,& Jill Mattuck Tarule (1997). Mystory My research report is one that reads much like more traditional research. Yet at other times it takes on a personal narrative style, telling of my research journey. While reading research literature, and reflecting on the gathered data, I have found moments of tangent interruptions. Tangent interruptions are what happens when a lateral thought or feeling interrupts my train of thought but as a result things to 'click' together, and suddenly make sense. Tangent interruptions are also other times when things were making sense, and then a tangent interruption disrupts the meaning and I have to reconsider the assumptions that I initially had, or had read. These tangent interruptions are like that voice that says, Heh, this sounds like something else that I just read, yet it is different and holds other implications. It is also the voice that comes from a place of memory, this reminds me of when. It is the voice of doubt that asks, are you sure you aren't misrepresenting them? Is this really what they meant to say? These moments may interrupt, but also bring me to a new place of understanding. I have included many of these moments in italics throughout this text to privy readers to my process. 9 4 "Reflective accounts of research are important because they remind readers that scholars are always products of their culture and history, that observations are always limited and partial, that interpretations are complex and contradictory, and that all accounts of research are open to revision and reinterpretation" (Kirsch, 1999, p. 82). In mystory, I have woven theory with my narrative along with the narratives of study participants (Denzin, 1997b). I have drawn fibres of thought from the work of others. I have woven them together into a cloth. Stitches and seams somewhat in place. I will describe the resulting garb. What I, as a researcher, as a person, hold to be true, can be seen through my ontology and methodology. The boundaries between public and private are arbitrary. We create them as we perceive a need for them and as groups within society call for them. However, as a researcher, I dwell within my research (Ellis, 1997). I take time to breathe within the space created through the onset of inquiry. My research creeps into my everyday as my everyday life has crept into my research. I chose to do a study within my community. Now and then, I run into participants from time-to-time as we go about our 'regular lives' -shopping for groceries, attending shows, or passing a coffee shop enroute to take my son, Wolfie to his ballet class. We always chat. Sometimes they ask about how my writing coming along. But, they always ask how I am, how my kids are, what's new. I too ask about them and their lives. First and foremost we are people who got to know each other as co-participants in a shared experience. Within acts of research, I am present. I am not the objective observer. I am an actor in a scene of life. I just happen to be taking notes. When I am not taking notes, I try to recall what I can. I listen carefully to those who tell me their stories. Though they have been silenced in the past, what matters now is that they are no longer silent. They inform my research and a larger discourse of power and representation. I respect what they say. I asked them if I understand them the way they intend. I hope they understand me. I have tried to make my written and spoken words accessible. With new or clarified understanding in this research, I hope to find better ways to engage with others. 95 Study Specifics: Behind the Scenes Turning Point and Under Construction involved many of the same people and even many of the same images, but they were very different in their modes of production and in the overall impact on participants and audience. Turning Point was a social project that focused on young women. Most of the organizers, and volunteers were women from Vancouver. There were many workshops, meetings and events within Turning Point. Initially there was a weekend workshop at Crescent Beach in January, 1996 where the girls were introduced to some of the organizers, including Suzanne Lacy. The workshop focused on mass media representation of women. These discussions continued at open workshops at the Vancouver Art Gallery from February, 1996 until later that May. That August, 30 young women were hired to be involved in Turning Point's production planning. This is when I first became aware of the project and became involved shortly thereafter. Access It was not until I had participated in several meetings and workshops, and felt that I had established myself with several Turning Point participants that I invited them to participate in my study. I handed out brief written invitations to talk to me. It was a wide open invitation. The text in the invitation was: Attention Turning Point Women! You are invited to participate in a study that focuses on the Turning Point project. The study is conducted by Lorrie Miller who is a doctoral student at UBC. I would like to talk to you about your involvement in this project. If you are interested, or just want to ask me a few questions, please feel free to call me at home. I then left my home phone number and my e-mail address. I did not receive any calls from the girls from the invitation, but it did provide a personal introduction when I talked about my project during meetings. Often when I handed the invitation to the girls during or after a workshop, I would invite them to participate if they were interested. I would then get their phone numbers and arrange a time for a first meeting. A l l of the girls that I approached were very receptive; it was really just a matter of arranging suitable meeting times. Of course, I included a letter of permission in accordance with the university's ethics committee. 96 In all, I interviewed seven core girls and five organizers/ volunteers. I also interviewed some girls on the spot at the performance who were only involved in the project for a single day, as well as audience members during and after the final performance. Most of the interviewees had detailed knowledge of the project while others knew very little before they attended Under Construction. I believe that this broad range of interpretations and reflections of Turning Point and Under Construction will help us to come to understand the complexities of this project and event, and the varying experiences of participants. Though I was supportive to the project as a whole, I had to make it clear when I could help and when I felt I had to step back to observe. I needed to take time to record my observations. I felt that I also needed to participate in order to better understand those observations. I tried to respond to the needs of the project at the time, as well as to my needs as a researcher with obligations beyond the project. There were times when I was a project helper and an adult participant, and other times when I felt I needed to be only an observer. While in the midst of a performance, and responsible for an activity, I couldn't keep clear notes and had to rely upon my reflections. Many people have asked me whether I interviewed Suzanne Lacy for this study. I certainly considered it, but in the end, I decided that this would unnecessarily complicate my research. It was not Lacy acting as an artist in a community that I was as interested in, but the model of art production she used along with the experiences of those participants who were closely involved in the process. I felt that it was vital to talk to the community members closest involved in implementing the project, that being the project manager/production producer and assistant. These are the local folks who saw that everything fell into place. I decided to maintain a professional distance from the artistic director, as I felt this was what I needed to do in order to be openly critical about the project. I needed to feel at ease with either critique or praise, though it is still not easy. I was able to collect many media interviews with Lacy during the preparation for Under Construction. I was also provided with her own writing which included some of her intentions and working processes (including a video recording that she produced to reflect the Turning Point project and Under Construction performance). At this point in time, I would be interested 97 to hear the current reflection of what happened in Turning Point from both the artistic director and the producer. Has this experience influenced their subsequent work? I would also be interested to hear their responses to this thesis. The producer has recently requested a copy. Scenes The girls produced three zines . They planned, designed, produced and distributed them as they saw fit. The zine project was headed by a small group of girls, though it was open to all of the girls involved, or any newcomers. None of the girls had actually ever produced a zine before, but latched onto this element of the project as a means for personal expression and girl recruitment. Each subsequent zine became more complex in its form and personal in its content as one issue referred to the previous issue and included submissions from its readers (which were often girls who were already involved). Handpainting events were key visual elements to both Turning Point and Under Construction. The handpainting logo came from one of the girls' sketchbook pages, but the idea of doing henna on their hands first came from the artistic director as she noticed some girls doodling on their hands. The idea was then broached with the participants, they liked the idea and thought they would try it out with henna rather than with the markers they had been using. They held their first event in October, 1996 at The Community Cultural Development Conference, Assembly of BC Arts Councils. This first small event featured pairs of girls in black Turning Point logo t-shirts sitting at small tables handpainting and chatting to each other. Tea candles on each table dimly lit the foyer. The girls ignored the conference delegates as they watched them and listened in on their conversations. The second event was later that December at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. This recruitment event also involved young women sitting at small square red tables, lit with tea candles in small bowls, handpainting while conversing. It was a chilly winter day, but space heaters helped to take off the edge. The event, like all of the events, was documented by a designated Turning Point photographer. The watching public was welcomed by Lacy to walk among the girls as they talk and paint. The 3 See sample Appendix 2. 98 audience mostly waited at the doorway and took their own photos. Some of the girls talked to one another as they paint, others sat in silence. At one point I sat down at a table across from a girl, we talked as she painted my hand. There weren't as many girls as was anticipated, but not a bad turn out overall. Our hands were cold as she drew lines and swirls on the back of my hand. It was quiet and pleasant, yet it was still chilly. The rains came quietly into the garden beyond the doorway. After the event, we ate from a buffet that was set out and waiting for us in the Scholar's Room in the garden. We often ate together at events, and meetings. Everyone came to appreciate these little meal meetings, even when it was only juice, coffee, pizza and muffins. As part of the 1997 Women in View Festival, Turning Point held another handpainting event located in 11 cafes simultaneously along Commercial Drive. This event was preceded by a workshop at Britannia Community Centre. This performance was primarily girl developed. Lacy asked them, "You tell me how you'd like to do the piece as in who is at the table -what is on the table..." (from fieldnotes). Though the artistic director facilitated this project by asking questions to the girls, the girls ultimately decided on the final image. Older girls volunteered to work with the girls on this project. The role of the adult volunteers was to go to the cafe an hour before the performance and to select and hold a table for the performance. As an older girl volunteer, I sat at the La Quena Cafe and waited for the 2 pm performance. Once the handpainters arrive, I moved and then acted as support i f necessary. The site managers handled everything, but we were there i f they required assistance. So, I sat and supped my coffees. At La Quena, there were three girls and one older volunteer. The theme of conversation and the zine #3 (hot off the press) was courage. Some girls handed out handbills inviting more girls to join the project. The handbill read "Turning Point is art and social action whose goal is to use public spaces and connections to make the voices of young women heard" (Handbill Feb. 23, 1997). The handpainters, Megan and Megan sat at the black clothed cafe table painting each others' hands with henna. A local television crew came out to cover the event. It was a huge success according to the girls. On May 3, 1997, as part of Vancouver Youth Week, Joyce Rosario (an active core girl) organized a coffee house and poetry reading at the Roundhouse Community 99 Centre. By this point, the final performance date for Under Construction had been moved back to June 15 from the originally planned date in May. In Under Construction there were to be hundreds of young women participating in a large scale public performance that intended to highlight their issues, comments, and life experiences as told by them. These young women, aged 13 to 19, were from Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. They would represent the social and cultural make up of young women in this region. A clip from the Turning Point Mission Statement (1996), written by originating adult participants and planners, states: We are here to have a strong voice which will raise awareness and challenge stereotypes in society. We will provide young women with an opportunity to express and learn from personal experiences and feelings in a large, supportive and diverse group. Through sharing experiences, we will build trust among our group which will enable us to create a unique art performance, allowing us to express our opinions to society. Turning Point was intended to be flexible and to evolve as it grew. It took on many forms through 1996-97 and involved many more people than its mission statement suggests. In 1995, a working group of Vancouver artists, youth workers, educators, media makers and youth collaboratively prepared the Turning Point Overview and Mission, in which they describe an early vision of this project. They held a common interest in the power of art to both make, and alter, community and society. Turning Point Overview and Mission August, 1995 states: This project aims to position Vancouver teenage girls as authorities-anthropologists, activists and spokespersons - for their own culture, in order to create and foster an interchange of ideas, the outcome of which is expected to affect programs, policies, public attitudes, and the self esteem of the participants. We have invited artist, educator and social activist Suzanne Lacy to join us to develop a public artwork, using a process of engaging diverse constituencies around issues identified by us and which we believe will be accomplished by the following means: • Networking with people in public institutions, including schools, Parks and Recreation, and other departments of the city, and with public and private organizations to build consensus and public awareness; • Media awareness fueled by media literacy workshops; 100 • A large scale public art performance designed by the participants working with artists. For us, the process of coalition and community building is an integral part of the artwork. Similarly, the mass media aspects are designed as a public face of the art. Pulling the process together, a final performance serves as a celebratory ritual that brings diverse themes and people together in a public site. But it is the networking and community building, the support of gender-aware policies and sensitivities, the mentoring and relationships formed, that will form the lasting legacy of the project, (p. 1) The Turning Point project was mandated to be inclusive. This meant engaging in recruitment activities to reach various communities. Some recruitment activities were more successful than others. Some participants were recruited through their schools and friends. By focusing its energy on school recruitment, Turning Point excluded those girls who were not attending school. The group explored how they might include out-of-school youth. It was decided that it would be too difficult to actively recruit street youth and others not in school. As a result, the majority of participants were strong students (as this was yet another activity they were choosing to take on along with their school responsibilities). Although descriptions of Turning Point claim to include girls from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, they were typically middle-class. However, Under Construction, the final performance of Turning Point, did include a more diverse socio-economic group of girls (including a small group of young mothers) than did the core group of participating girls. I have reviewed my notes, interview transcripts and read numerous project documents, dating form 1995 - 1997, in order to describe the general population which made up Turning Point. These descriptions were not only of the individuals that participated, but of the communities that they together created. The Turning Point Mission Statement from 1996 was composed by the group of young women that were involved in the project in the summer of 1996. This composed mission statement holds elements from the earlier mentioned sketchbook responses to why they are involved in this project as a group. We are a diverse, collective group of young women, ages 13-19 from different areas of Greater Vancouver. Our group is multicultural, multilingual as well as from different socio-economic backgrounds representing a broad range of issues relevant not only to young women but to the general public, (p. 1) 101 A planning committee of 11 was struck in 1995 (10 women and one man). Two members were from the Social Planning Department, and one was from the Office of Cultural Affairs City of Vancouver. Three members were from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. There were two independent artists. One person was from the Vancouver Art Gallery and another from the Vancouver School Board. The Project Coordinator, was from New Performance Works Society. For the purpose of this study, it is not important to go into detail about the individuals on the Planning Committee, other than there were numerous interests involved from various civic groups and organizations and individuals. Two members of this Committee agreed to be interviewed as they held many roles in this project. I felt that given their history in the project and their participation through to the finale, they would have unique insights to the project. There were women of all ages, from many backgrounds, levels of education, experiences, and cultures. Each brought their skills, opinions, and desires to the Turning Point project. Initially, Turning Point planners had a vision to include up to 1000 girls in the final performance. Over time, this plan was modified and ended with around 300 young women, and 50 core members. With such an ambitious goal as achieving 1000 participants, a recruitment strategy had to be developed and implemented. Suzanne Lacy summarized the recruitment plan in her Turning Point: Work Plan Summary Narrative Draft 12/14/96. Many of the ideas summarized were gathered from the numerous Turning Point group participant meetings already held at that point. Questions surrounding recruitment were posed to the participating girls. The document itself was composed by Lacy (1996), however, much of the content had been agreed upon during group meetings and workshops. This document (December, 14 1996) states: Recruitment Plan The recruitment plan has three components. A series of mini-events featuring hand-painting take place in various locations, targeted toward different communities. Radio and television sponsors run PSA's and advertisements in March and April [1997] to target young women performers. Community organizing approaches to organizations, churches, schools, and youth workers will reach groups of young women. A Recruitment coordinator will develop a full plan that consists of these components. Working as a member of the central coordinating group, they will identify target numbers, ages, and ethnicities to create a balanced performer group. They will develop a plan to contact specific organizations and schools. 102 They will collect names and contact information of performers, handle releases and necessary parental permissions, generate attendance at rehearsals, assess transportation needed for performers, and distribute communication for rehearsal purposes. 1. Target populations and outreach. The coordinating group with the TP girls will make a desired target number for ethnic composition of performers, based on numbers of residents in greater [sic] Vancouver. Target numbers will also be set for girls of different social backgrounds, as well as those experiencing diverse social situations. We will need to recruit in cohort groups for logistical reasons as well as support systems provided to girls in these groups. School sites and responsive teachers, youth workers, and scout troops are examples. The Recruitment coordinator will make contact with and presentations to various schools, organizations, and churches. TP girls will hopefully also participate in some of these presentations. As part of the recruitment plan, leaders of the cohort groups may be specifically enlisted to provide transportation, support, and rehearsal for participants. 2. Mini-events of hand painting. In December [1996] we performed at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens as part of an outreach effort to the Chinese [Canadian] community. February 20-23 [1997] there is an opportunity to bring together our girls' image of performing in cafes on Commercial Drive with the Women in View Festival that will also take place there. We would also link with Britannia Community Centre for the event, which would take advantage of shared publicity and themes. March 14 [1997] there is an opportunity to perform for the art community at the Round House [Community Centre] opening. This may be able to link to outreach to the Gathering Place and the Carnegie Center, and other downtown venues. It would necessitate winning the interest of young people who organize in that area. Other suggestions: The girls have suggested multiple school sites, favorite cafes as opportunities for spontaneous hand-painting events. We might want to investigate bringing the Indo-Canadian community into the project by selecting a venue that relates to their culture, or working with an Indo-Canadian woman at the M O A who has already introduced hand-painting events. Finally, we might want to stage specific events for First Nations recruitment. These ethnicity specific recruitment events can be a source of self-esteem and pride for the participating young women. 3. Collecting stories. Developing the soundtrack should be part of the recruitment and community development process. Our group of TP girls will be interviewed for the sound track. The video documentation will include taping small groups discussing specific topics such as racism, etc. Telling their stories for each other, for our sound track, and perhaps for the media will be a leadership and self assertion exercise for these young women, (p. 7-8) Events within Turning Point connected to girl recruitment for the final performance. As a note of interest, the issue of quotas held some level of contention 103 among the Turning Point girls. They specifically stated in an earlier one page document titled: Turning Point Recruitment Ideas, that recruitment shouldn't be based on culture, and "Don't attach too much importance to cultural designation...No Quotas". They also suggested ways to reach street youth and 'welfare kids' and youth with disabilities. These suggestions are noticeably absent from the recruitment strategy (Lacy, 1996) outline described above. Absence of these groups in the document maybe linked to difficult logistic considerations. However, without firm documentation to substantiate this, all I can surmise is that it was not a priority to include these groups. If you had been one of the 600-9004 people to view Under Construction, you would have begun your experience in a long queue winding its way around the outside of the construction site. You would have seen live video-feed on monitors strategically placed in peek holes in the bubblegum pink hoarding. Audio revealed girls' live chat. Sci-fi techno-construction sound and music layered with girls voices, played over a loud system. Ten girls in safety vests and yellow hard-hats carried modified street signs and marched in front of the site's main entrance. Soft Shoulders, one sign read in black bold letters across a yellow caution sign, the girl turns it around, Sharp Mind. Stop, reads another sing; the girl flips the sign on cue, And Listen it reads on the reverse side. You could watch as you file onto the performance site. Once on-site and standing among your group of a few hundren, safely behind the light wooden barricade separating audience from performers - you would stand for 20 minutes while the pre-recorded soundtrack played overhead and the girls 'performed'. About 130 young women in identical red t-shirts were in the performance. Some sat in sating arrangements on white three gallon buckets while they talked about the issues listed in their performance kits. Others sat on large piles of concrete blocks, also hand-painting and talking. A few girls, under the direction of trades women, worked on mixing concrete and filling wooden forms. Voices over a sound system blend in and out of the electronic music and techno-construction mix. The soundtrack loop played throughout the performance while activity continued on the floor. You would have heard intimate stories of loneliness, loss, anger, achievement; voices of individuals, simply asking that we listen... Soft voices, wavering, pause, sigh.. .Another voice coolly describes a moment of pain. 4 This number varies depending on the document reviewed. 104 I am very very solitary I like my mom. I like my mom. She's always going to be my mom, so I've got to work it out I k n o w t h a t o n c e I leave I can never g o back t o be i ng a k i d . Sometimes I feel like I have control. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes Ifeel like I am imagining this control, but really, it feels like I have my parent's pulling the strings. And I'm just one of those dummies moving with those strings. I am basically labelled by my friends as a tree-hugger. But, I'm okay with that. My mom thinks she knows what's best, but she doesn't know what I want. We 're not close at all. We don't talk about things. Ifeel that one thing I have control over is myself. My parents are more materialistic. Especially my father. He, quote "spoils us and so we won't have anything to look forward to." When emotionally I find my family... it's starved. *1heu- expect io muck. Iheu- neoen had a chance- to- ie euenuthinq- they- could ie, iut!) juii ^ eel like the wetifht ii... and they, iau it'i allfan- mu (mm qood and theu'ne juit tnuina to help- me the w&u then can... and !/] know-that. But. .. !)jfiel io much pAeiiune. 9t'i. not like uou. quui. "We 'ne not >uch, iut they- aave me eoenuthinq- Uteu-could. !>] can talk to- mu- panenti aiout eoenuthinq-. Jlike eoe^uthinq.!. Iheu- qo to eoenuthinq, any kind ajj event H have - they, want to qo. VAeu- ne juit like - the ieit. Iheu-iup-pont me in eoenuthina !/1 do, But, H judt feel io... It would by nice to have a father figure. But, he's not a father figure so, I'm not going to waste my time on him. you think you are something to a person and then... you find out that you're not (anonymous v o i c e s from s o u n d t r a c k , Under C o n s t r u c t i o n , June, 1997) From her third-story vantage, Lacy directed the movement on the floor with hand signals and radio directions. After 20 minutes, your group would have been ushered out, going around the outer perimeter of the performance floor. The movement continued as you left. If you had been in the third and final audience wave, you would have then been ushered onto the floor to mingle with the performers. Only this final 200 were able to hear the conversations that before they could only see... 105 Though audience members of this final group did finally hear some live voices of these young women. What they would never hear, nor see, is the two year process that 30 of the young women and numerous older women engaged in to develop other smaller events, zine publications, and this one day event. It unfortunately did not reveal the dedication that they brought to the project. The final highlighting of their voices was cursory at best. Study Participants The study of Turning Point and Under Construction was long and in depth. I participated in and studied their development over the course of one year. It is important to know the social context for Turning Point when talking about the participants of this study. Main interviewees were some of the 'core girls' who were intensely involved in the project. I also found it important to know about key organizers and volunteers. Participants in this study were also Turning Point participants: from British Columbia's Lower Mainland with diverse backgrounds, opinions, and experiences. Study participants were more than respondents to interview questions, they helped me to understand their experiences in these projects by clarifying their transcripts, editing them, and by reflecting on past events in more recent phone conversations, letters and e-mails. But, more than that, we were co-participants in the projects themselves. Maxine Birch (1998) claims that she "did not need such words as 'professional stranger', 'subjects', 'collaborators', or 'informants' to describe a research relationship, but was ... able to refer to friends and group members of which [she] was one" (p. 177). Birch chose to use the term 'participant' as did I, in which the researcher is included. Though I was not one of the girls, I was one of the 'older girls' of which there were many. We often worked along side one another in the midst of Turning Point. We had many conversations when the tape recorder was off and away. I don't believe that Turning Point participants saw my primary role as a researcher, and this has been reinforced when I hear, 'heh, weren't you in Turning Point?' In the end, the project involved hundreds of women of all ages. These women committed varying amounts of time to the project, some stayed on from the initial planning stage through to the final performance. Others joined at various times 106 throughout its development. Most of the girls joined only on the day of the final performance. In a document analysis, I searched through the following types of documents to come up with the description of group participants that made up the Turning Point project. I looked at planning documents, press releases, written participant testimony, transcriptions of radio interviews, transcriptions from researcher - participant interviews, artist statements, final reports, promotional material, as well as newspaper and magazine articles. The specific information that I sought in these documents included: descriptions of participants, modes of recruitment, and quotations from participants when they described themselves or others within the Turning Point project. I also noted similarities and differences in the descriptions as the project progressed. Researcher -Participant relationships I started Turning Point as an interested community member, then as an observer. As the art project grew, and changed, so did the roles I engaged in. Sometimes I was participant-mentor, observer, interviewer and documenter. As a participant-mentor, I attended meetings, interacted with the other participants, and provided some guidance for the Research Group (which was lead by volunteer Al ix Sales). This was a sub-committee within the project. I volunteered for this role (subtly suggested by Lacy). The Research Group requested a mentor to assist them in their ominous task of gathering and organizing written information to help critically inform the project. I don't recall how much help I really was, as they seemed to be really quite competent. The gathered information was then presented to the other group members. Though I have moved twice since the conclusion of Turning Point, I still house the resulting archives from the project including an array of video recordings, audio recordings, slides, posters, articles, zines, workshop notes and maps, site plans, girls' sketch-books, and committee minutes. By naming the roles that I took on during the course of this study, I reveal the categories for the relationships between the participants and researcher. During the 'get-to-know-you' phase of Turning Point, I tended to sit back and watch, but as things developed, and I felt more comfortable, I was able to just be myself. I got to know some of the girls, the other older volunteers, and hired staff. During the year, we became friendly with each other, but I didn't develop any close friendships. 107 Ellen Herda (1999) tells us that although; there is an emphasis on "equalizing the relationship between the researcher and participant, the responsibility for all aspects of the project in the end belongs to the researcher." (p. 120). Kirsch (1999) warns that "researchers who strive for the benefits of close, collaborative relationships with participants must accept the risk that such relationships may end in a participant's sense of disappointment, broken trust, even exploitation" (p. 27). Kirsch also suggests that researchers need to set realistic expectations about the commitments that participants make to research projects. "We must learn to respect those participants who lack time or interest in our research or who fall silent when we expect them to dialogue with us" (Kirsch, p. 36). In this study, only some participants chose to write current reflections to me about our project. Some had time to talk on the phone, or write an e-mail to me. Some didn't respond at all. I chose to accept that this project was not a priority to them as it is to me. I gratefully accepted any responses and emotionally had to let go when the mail stopped delivering participants' responses. "We must always respect participants' decision about the degree to which they wish to interact with us. We have to remember that even i f participants are not collaborating with us, they are still generous with their time, receiving no direct compensation" (Kirsch, 1999, p. 37). Interviewing Candid conversations were common, and on and off the record statements were made clear. The interview questions were for the most part open-ended. Although I started our taped interviews with an interview schedule, it often just provided a starting point for conversations with participating girls, artists5, organizers, and audience members. I also adapted the interview questions to reflect the changing nature of the project, as well as to respond to the individual being interviewed at the time. Carolyn Ellis & Leigh Berger (in press) suggest that researchers should move away from "the orthodox model of distance and separation, interactive interviewers often encourage self-disclosure and emotionality on the part of the researcher... .In this interactive context, respondents become narrators who improvise stories in response to the questions, probes, 5The roles of participating local artists were often supportive and didn't reflect their artistic abilities, but the overall construction of the project. 108 and personal stories of the interviewer." I would consider the type of interviews I engaged in during this study are what Ellis and Berger refer to as reflexive dyadic interviewing. Reflexive, dyadic interviews follow the typical protocol of the interviewer asking questions and the interviewee answering them, but the interviewer typically shares personal experiences with the topic at hand or reflects on the communicative process of the interview. In this case the researchers' disclosures are more than tactics to encourage respondents to open up; instead, they often feel a reciprocal desire to disclose, given the intimacy of the details being shared by the interviewee. The interview is conducted as more as a conversation between two equals than as a distinctly hierarchical, question and answer exchange, and the interviewer tries to tune into the interactively produced meanings and emotional dynamics within the interview itself.. .Thus, the final product includes cognitive and emotional reflections of the researcher, which add context and layers to the story being told about participants, (in press) Although the taped interviews in this study were often conversational in nature, they were obviously interviews with a purpose. We did not deny what we were doing, and claim that we were simply having conversations that we just happened to be recording. Bloom (1998) tells us that "what is more important is not whether one does an interview or a conversation, but that there is a resonance between the context of the relationship and the type of speech event that people have. If the relationship is a research relationship, perhaps it is less 'natural to have a conversation than an interview" (p. 40). If you are seeking an interview, then disguising it as conversation may be more 'unnatural' than an open interview. We need to be open with our intentions. At the beginning of each taped interview I asked each participant to tell me a bit about herself, her background, and her community. Since part of the art project dealt with the development of a community, I felt that it was important to note with which community, or group, each woman most identified herself, i f at all. Below is the list of initial questions that I used in the taped interviews. 1. Could you tell me how you first became involved with Turning Point? • What experience have you had with art(s) projects? • Do you have any volunteer experience with community projects? • Have you ever been involved with projects that have focused on women or women's issues? 2. What do you do or have you done in this (Turning Point) project? • What role(s) do you play in Turning Point? • What responsibilities do you have? 109 • What activities do you engage in? (Meetings, zine making, recruitment...) 3. Tell me about these responsibilities. • Activities? 4. What exactly is the Turning Point project? • What is it (has it been) to you personally? 5. What keeps (kept) you involved in the project? 6. What do (did) you hope to gain from your experiences in the project? • What do you feel that you have gained from you experience in the project? 7. What do you hope (think) others (girls, women, audiences) will gain (have gained) from Turning Point? 8. When it is all over, what do you expect or hope will come from all of this...? 9. How will you know that the project and/or performance have been successful? The following questions were developed after several interviews and specifically for the post production interviews. 10. Was it a success? If so, how ? If not, in what way? 11. Tell me how the performance went for you. • What did you do in the performance? • How did you feel during the performance? • What kinds of reactions did you see in the other girls? • How did you feel after the performance? 11. What were some of the difficulties and strengths in the project, in the performance? 12. How would you weigh the process vs. the product, or in this case the production? 13. Tell me about your thoughts on the art development process that this project used. 14. What is next for you? • What was the highest point for you in the whole project? • What was the lowest point in the project for you? • Would you do it again? A l l of the interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed either in part or whole. Going through hours and hours of taped interviews was a daunting task. I found the process surreal. My headphones and tape player acted like a time-machine. I was not only taken back to the times and places where we had our interviews, but also to that time in my life. I recalled expectations, anticipations, as well as apprehensions. The memories mixed together my academic and my personal lives. In one taped interview, held in my apartment, my then three year old son (now almost eight) interrupted us for a little 'emergency'. This interruption took only a moment from the interview, but brought me a smile while reviewing the material later. And again each time I read this. Maxine 110 Birch (1998) tells about her similar experience, "while I was transcribing I was often transported back to the setting in which the interview occurred. I remembered simple images, from sitting in my kitchen having a cup of coffee, to more complex feelings such as empathy and a sense of closeness. Through the act of transcribing I had relived the telling" (p. 179). Ellis & Bochner (2000) describe memory as "thoughts and feelings [that] circle around us, flash back, then forward, the topical is interwoven with the chronological, thoughts and feelings merge, drop from our grasp, then reappear in another context" (p. 753). Listening to the tapes and transcribing them into text, was an intimate experience with my memories, quite unlike transcribing data from someone else's interview. (Those transcribing experiences are more voyeuristic) Once on paper, with the nuances removed from the background drone of cappuccino machines, the cars on the street, the nagging child at my ankle.. .the texts read cleanly, not quite sterile, but there was a cool cleanness about them, that didn't exist on the tapes. It isn't exactly like being there, though it is a part of what happened. When I crafted individual letters to the participants and sent them their transcriptions, it was very satisfying. I felt a sense of letting go. It had been three years for some of the participants since we had our interviews. Some participants had moved on and required some research to find. With others, all I could find were their parents' addresses. I sent the packages on to them at their parents' residence, in hopes of having it then sent on to the participants. I have located a number of the key girls from the project as well as central organizers. When I sent out the packages of the transcripts I included individual cover letters which outlined what kind of continued participation I was hoping for. I asked them to read through the transcripts for clarity and correction. Some of the transcripts came back with nothing more than grammatical correction, one participant commented that she wanted to be read more coherently, and supplied some minor changes to her grammar. I invited them to make any corrections on the transcriptions as well as to elaborate on any of the questions they felt needed more attention. I asked them for updates of where they were in relation to the interview, as many of them were in their final year of high-school at that time. I wanted to know if they felt that their Turning Point experience had in any way affected their lives. I asked what they would suggest to improve Turning Point. I also asked them to i l l include any changed opinions they might have felt since their first interview, and i f so to provide a brief explanation. I offered to share my final report with them upon completion. Some have taken up my offer. I included self-addressed stamped envelopes for their easy return of their notes, transcript additions and changes. In our correspondence we have touched on what has happened lately, but mostly reflected on our earlier interviews and the whole Turning Point experience. Each time I received an e-mail, or a package arrived at my door, it felt like a gift from the past had come my way. Not only do they remember, but they care. This pleases me to no end. I have their personal notes that have been sent to me along with their comments and corrections on typed pages of transcripts. I also asked them to consider and reflect upon a series of new questions. One night in the fall 1999, at the performance of a Fringe Festival play, a young woman came up to me and asked me "You were in Turning Point weren't you?" she asked me. I then recognized her, Juliette6, from the project as well as from our interviews. I was so pleased that she recognized me, I gave her my e-mail address, and she assured me that she would e-mail. I told her that I would like to pass on to her the notes from our interviews two summers ago and to see what her reflections on the project are now that some time has passed. She seemed very enthused, and has since given me her responses to the interviews. That fortuitous meeting reinforced my decision to make the report of my study accessible to Juliet and the other study participants, and meaningful to a broad audience. Data Collection Data collection began for this research project in September 1996, and continued through to September, 1997. Data collection included interviews, participation, and observation (Guba & Lincoln, 1981; Merriam, 1998). A l l formal interviews were audio recorded. I observed and participated in many of the workshops. "Observation is a major means of collecting data in qualitative research. It offers a firsthand account of the situation under study and, when combined when interviewing and document analysis, 6A11 the young women whom I interviewed for this project chose pseudonyms for themselves. They often chose names of famous women they admired. Participants signed waivers to use their images for Turning Point publicity, and were publicly identified in the art project, but not necessarily as being interviewed in my research. 112 allows for a holistic interpretation of the phenomenon being investigated" (Merriam, 1998,p. I l l ) Not only were there multiple methods of collecting data, but the form of the data varied (Merriam, 1991, 1998; Stake, 1995). Data forms include: audio taped interviews, field-notes, participant journals, project-planning maps, and project documents. I also examined the information documented and collected by the participants and by a professional videographer who was hired by the Turning Point project, to document parts of the process. When I first planned this research project I thought I would consider the same types of validity, and reliability concerns that I had for my masters thesis. As a result I took the following precautions to maximize reliability, (Merriam, 1991; Stake, 1995): 1) triangulation, where one uses multiple methods of data collection; 2) conducts member checks, where participants aid in the clarification of the text; 3) a researcher's biases being presented at the onset of the study in the form of a personal ground. But since that time, I would also like to consider the use of the term reliability checks as suggested by Ellis and Bochner (2000), as this project involved other individuals besides the researcher. "When other people are involved, you might take your work back to them and give them a chance to comment, add materials, change their minds and offer interpretation" (Ellis & Bochner, p. 751). As I have previously mentioned, I returned transcripts for elaboration, and clarification. The validity in Ellis and Bochner's work is one that, seeks verisimilitude where "it evokes in readers a feeling that the experience described is lifelike, believable and possible" (p. 751). Ellis and Bochner's interpretation of research generalizabilty resonates with me. Ellis & Bochner tell us that: Our lives are particular, but they are also typical and generalizable, since we all participate in a limited number of cultures and institutions. We want to convey both in our stories. A story's generalizablity is constantly being tested by readers as they determine if it speaks to them about their experience or about the lives of others they know. Likewise, does it tell them about unfamiliar people or lives? (p. 751) Inductive Data Analysis Data analysis has been on-going throughout the study. I use thematic analysis in which "we are able to articulate the notion of theme we are also able to clarify further the nature of human science research. Making something of a text or of a lived experience 113 by interpreting its meaning is more accurately a process of insightful invention, discovery, or disclosure - grasping and formulating a themematic understanding is not a rule-bound process but a free act of 'seeing' meaning" (van Manen, 1997, p. 79). Data has been organized according to situational factors, themes and concepts (Merriam, 1991). Merriam (1998) tells us that categories should "describe the data, but to some extent they also interpret the data" (p. 187). Names of the categories in this study came from the researcher, the participants, and research literature. Initial categories included relationships & community building, and Art production as a site for learning . Issues of representation, process & production, audience, closure, and success (devaluation emerged during initial analysis. The common undercurrent themes of the thesis: power and representation, emerged during a final analysis which included revisiting the data along with current research literature. From these two themes I was able to include all of the categories, both constructed and emergent. Though voice plays significantly in this study, I believe that it fits well under power. As one has the power of self, or the power over, the expression of that power(lessness) through voice or silence. These two themes run throughout Turning Point, Under Construction and this study. Summary Turning Point was a multifaceted, polyphonic art project that I followed for over a year. It was an experience that I find difficult to explain, since it spread out from a starting point into having a life of its own. My task at hand is to simplify a complex project into an understandable and meaningful text. Yet Turning Point was filled with sound, movement, growth, frustrations, enthusiasm, relationships, beauty and boredom. The writing of this report also proved to be challenging due to my position in the study. I have come to realize that I had been initially too close to be able to critically examine the project. I have had to reflect upon my own role as a researcher. What does this mean in this study? Sometimes I was a researcher, noticeably observing and taking notes, at other times I was participating in the process and helping with the project. I was also a safe set of ears, someone with whom to chat about project ideas and feelings, without any repercussions. I too faced issues of power, and representation. I questioned my transparency and accessibility. Was I really as transparent as I could be? Did I have an 114 agenda that I needed to acknowledge? I recognized that I was in a position of privilege simply through age and education. Based on those criteria, I would have my voice heard more readily than some of the teenage participants in this study. I also wondered what effect my study had, i f any, on the art project itself. Did my line of questioning encourage the girls to be more critical of their roles in the project? I also wonder how much of my own critical reflection on my roles within the research is necessary for the reader? Wil l this read as being self-absorbed, or will it really provide the necessary grounding to interpret the research? Janice Rislock and Joan Pennell (1996) suggest that what we want to avoid is " feeling satisfied that we have adequately located ourselves when we have merely listed the social and identity groups to which we belong" (p.67). Through reading Rislock and Pennell, I was reassured that the purpose of self-reflexivity is not necessarily a self-centred diversion into the personal life of the researcher. "On the contrary, the purpose of self-reflexivity is to improve the quality of research, not to derail it" (Rislock & Pennell, p. 66). Gesa Kirsch reminds us that "using the authorial I... is one way to make sure that theory and research does not make the universalizing and homogenizing claims so typical of past scholarship" (p. 79). My literature review forced me to consider the terms that I had been using to describe my research process. I need to be truthful with the participants about where I am coming from with my questions. I need to be truthful with the reader about what I intend to do with this study. I received feedback from the participants as I analyzed the data, in its various forms. I took extra caution with their interview transcription. I wanted to be sure that I understood what they meant in their narratives. They have had the opportunity to read our transcribed interviews and add their comments, questions and clarifications to the transcriptions. I have listened to what they have had to say about their experiences, in their own words. Participants' voices have been missing from all of the other descriptions of community-based performance art, except when they have been recorded for the performance soundtrack. These narratives are also absent in Garoian's (1999) description of performance art pedagogy -curriculum text. How can we know that this form of pedagogy is the emancipatory act that Garoian claims if we don't hear from those 115 whom were to have been empowered . Before now we only hear participant word -their voices, is in the context of the art performance. We have not before heard them talking about their participation in the projects. What did they think and feel? Has their experience affected their lives? Why did some stay and some leave. How did it all happen? What happened when it was all over? Significance of the study I believe that this case study is important based on the unique opportunity for engaging in and examining a collaborative, performance art project of this magnitude. There is a lack of literature which critically examines postmodern art within the context of performance art, and a lack of research where the experiences of the participants within such a project have been taken into consideration. I believe that we need to carefully consider ramifications around representation and power when working with youth or those less powerful. Media representation, and representation of youth in general is an important topic for exploration for educators, artists and for youth. Collaborative performance art projects can provide youth with a venue for meeting, exploring issues, and expressing themselves to a larger audience than has typically been available. I believe that this study will prove to be informative in bringing to the forefront the experiences of young women, while also examining new genre public art as an opportunity for empowerment and learning, that is, as a form of education. As Garoian (1999) refers to performance art pedagogy, it may also hold implications for teaching art in a way that only recently has been considered. This research may help artists, educators, and community developers to understand the relevance that collaborative, activist art projects can have on participating individuals.. Turning Point and Under Construction have provided me with a unique opportunity to observe and be a part of a dynamic performance art project. 7 In Garoian (1999), the performance project he sites specifically to illustrate Lacy's work as curriculum text and performance art pedagogy, 'praxis of postmodern theory', is the 1994 performance in Oakland, The Roof Is on Fire. Teens, mostly Latinos and African Americans, sat in new cars on a rooftop parking lot 116 This study has helped me to gain a more complex understanding of the processes, contents and contradictions of such collaborative performance art projects. while they spoke about their issues. The audience, including the media, were invited to 'listen in' as the youth spoke to one another. 117 CHAPTER 4: TURNING POINT A N D UNDER CONSTRUCTION: LISTENING A N D TELLING "The Turning Point project was one of the turning points of my life. I met many young women I could relate to, and that was very beneficial to me. I learned a heap about social issues, activism and public art." "If we were to do it again, I would like the project to focus more on the young women's images and ideas. The emphasis on the production at the end got in the way of what was developing with the core group." "I loved the hand painting: for me it was the real 'art' of this art project..." "As we began working on the big production we began drifting apart. The final performance sent a message, but I don't think it was the message we wanted to send." (Four core girl narratives in Barbara Clausen (August, 18, 1998) Turning Point: A Final Report) / didn't want to share my personal life, but I did anyways. It sucked. I don't like telling yuppy strangers who would cry at 'Bambi' what I've been through: I'm tired of this shit. (on Emily Carr workshop) Finally people had opinions past the authority and were not afraid to SHOUT. I feel like kicking butt and changing the world, but I guess, that's not what we 're doing. (anonymous narratives in Turning Point girls' sketchbooks, who dropped out of the project in the fall of 1996) Each person's narrative tells us a bit of their story. Together the narratives create a polyvocal text which helps us to come to understand their individual and shared experiences in Turning Point and Under Construction. "Together, women may be able to name or rename their experiences, an act of power in itself. Further, the powerless can create conversations among themselves, which can lead to power even when the powerful refuse to listen" (Hayes, 2000, p. 107). I listened to their stories, as they were originally recorded during our interviews. I listened to them again as I transcribed them into written text. Finally, I hope that I have heard them as I make room in this text for their voices, so that they might be heard by the larger audience that they long ago sought. While reading the narratives in this chapter, you need to keep in mind who is speaking and "under what concrete circumstances.. .and who is listening and what is the nature of her relationship with the speaker -especially with respect to power?" (Brown, 1998, p. 32). Though I have tried to represent study participants respectfully and in ways that they would agree with, I recognize that I was usually senior to the interviewee and also in control of this final text, despite my good intentions. I have included as much of the narratives as I have so that readers can "consider their own alternate interpretations," or understandings (Stake, 1995, p. 87). 118 I have considered organizing the narratives into their subject topics, and themes, according to their roles in Turning Point. However, I decided to frame this section in more of a chronological order, where each narrative is within the same relative context of time. In the first section of the chapter, the narratives take place during the developmental stages of Turning Point, where fundraising, girl recruitment, and project planning are well under way. The second part of the chapter begins with my narrative as I recall the Under Construction performance as a witness on the performance floor, then followed by participants' immediate post-performance narratives. In the third section, narratives describe post-performance thoughts, from individuals' written reflections from a year and more after the performance. I have organized narratives into the following topics: 1) How participants described the events in Turning Point and Under Construction; 2) Participants' experiences in Turning Point and Under Construction; 3) Participant opinions and reflections. Within the topics, I present the narratives of each woman as they relate to these categories Roles each played in the project, Growth and learning, Closure and follow-up, Success and evaluation. From these discussions, emerged the following themes: Voice and Empowerment, Ownership, Feminism, Process and Product, Audience, Community, Metaphor, and Role of the Artist. Turning Point asked its participants to reflect on their lives within their communities and to respond to what they found. I, in turn, asked several of these same participants in to reflect on their experience in Turning Point. So, in the end we have meta-reflections -their reflections on a process in which they were frequently reflecting. I also asked them to comment on the process that they went through, often while they were immersed in it, and again well after the project was over. Turning Point: One Narrative at a Time I have organized these narratives chronologically according to interview date. By presenting the narrative segments of individual young and older women interviewed for this study, readers will have a sense of the context in which each woman is speaking. I interviewed some key coordinators and volunteers. The young women chose their own pseudonyms, based on women whom they admire, from history, from their personal experiences, or from myth. The adult participants opted not to use pseudonyms as they 119 didn't mind being identified while also admitting that it was pointless to mask their identities given the size of the local art community and the high-profile of the project. Barbara Local women organizers and volunteers played an enormous role in the growth and development of Turning Point. On March, 28, 1997, Barbara Clausen, producer of Turning Point and Under Construction, and I met for lunch at a sushi place near her office. We fit our rolls and noodles in between sentences and train of thought... Barbara had a diverse and interconnected history in fine-art and education as well as in performing arts administration. Barbara is very involved in the local arts community and was a driving force behind the development of Turning Point, and inviting Suzanne Lacy to come to Vancouver. Although very knowledgeable about art, her main focus in her career had been in dance, from teaching dance to young children to administering dance companies. She also spent two years at the Canada Council as a dance officer in Ottawa. At the time of the interview she was working in her own business where she supports individual performing artists and projects related to the performing arts. She was very passionate about seeing Turning Point grow from an idea to a reality. She became the project coordinator from the very beginning. She was part of the team that developed New Performance Works Society, which was the producing body of Turning Point. Like so many of the young women, this was also Barbara's first community project, as well as her first project that focused on women or feminist issues. Descriptions of Turning Point and Under Construction I think it (Turning Point) is several things (for different people)... I think for the girls that are involved, it is kind of empowerment process and the real kind of experience that none of them have had... having mostly to do with relationships with one another in my opinion, and working on something that they don't quite get, but have faith that something will happen and also being really pleased at being involved in something that has public face and is all about girls. For the community of funders and supporters, Turning Point is about leadership development for girls, it is about making some kind of public statement about multiculturalism, about youth and about females. Last, but not least... Turning Point is really a piece of art by an artist whose name is Suzanne Lacy who makes spectacular one day events...It is a piece of art and social action, it's a kind of a girls' club, it's kind of a neat opportunity for people to interact in ways that is completely outside of their normal roles. I work now 120 with young women in a way that I wouldn't normally. It's an honour to hang out with the girls and do stuff with them, it's really neat. It is especially an honour for me because it puts me in a really different context with my own daughter.... Another thing that this project is... it is some kind of an interesting opportunity for a small number of girls, not a huge number of girls. The five hundred that come (plan) to the site will have a great time, but the thirty or forty who have gotten it from the beginning and have gotten to work with Suzanne and who are working with us intimately, at the moment, I think are the ones who are really getting this thing, whatever it is. (Int.: Barb, 7.1) Experiences This great story is.... seven of my very best female friends that are involved in the arts in one way or the other, formed this non-profit in order to look at the idea of doing projects that might come our way. But also a way to network as a way to have an old-girls club, frankly. Because a lot of us were involved in the arts, but not connected to large organizations, and you get out of the loop really fast i f you're not involved in an organization where you are on a mailing list and everything else. We got together and one of things that we decided to do was, at every meeting we let someone else bring an idea, a video, an audio tape and we would talk about it... and that was where we saw the videotape of Suzanne Lacy. It was for interest, for information, but as it turned out that organization had a mandate that was wide enough to accommodate that project. So it is partly accidental, coincidental, but partly., we were all on the same track. (Int.: Barb, 2.2) Feminism This is my first (women focused project). So, I am coming to feminism late. Although I am of an age where I might have been involved in a lot of feminist development, I wasn't. I was certainly aware of it, but that just wasn't my experience at the time. I am familiar with feminism action and theory, but it hasn't been part of my experience. So, this is quite interesting, and I feel very comfortable with it, and I feel that it is a very valid thing to be doing with my daughter. That is how this project is happening for me. It's happening for me as a professional, but I am also doing it as a mother, and she happens to be involved, although she wasn't at the beginning -she came to it herself. She knew about it through me, but her decision to do it was her own. (Int.: Barb, 3.2) Roles. In the best possible sense, and I think that Suzanne would support this, I have been her partner on the ground. Suzanne didn't know anything about the city, other than she knew Susan Gordon and Rosalyn at the Parks Board, because that was who invited her up originally. So, I have been her administrative partner. She develops through a lot of experience ways of perceiving in terms of how to network and with whom to network. So from the very beginning, she would set up okay next time I come up, I would like to meet with some educators, Fd like to meet with Park Board people, Fd like to meet with some art teachers... So I would scurry around make cold calls and set up meetings for her, which she would facilitate brilliantly. That was the developmental part of this job, of my job was 121 to build a network of supporters, of funders and basic community supporters of this project... Then my job became to make the grant applications, to raise the money, to do whatever is we were going to do in the end... So, my job has been to administer the project by understanding Suzanne's vision as it developed over time, and finding the financial support for it. Basically, housing the project, being the central communicating person. Being the person who speaks for the project in Vancouver. I would say some of the success of this project has had to do with her vision, absolutely, but also with my reputation as an arts administrator, because I do have contacts in a lot of quarters and I do have a good reputation as being interested and committed to things that are considered legit. Not that she couldn't have done this with someone else, but I suspect that this hasn't been a small contribution to the project, it's just my reputation. (Int.: Barb, 4.1) Barbara's roles engaged her in every aspect of the project, and only in the very final phase of development of the performance did this become absolutely impossible to maintain. I am physically present at everything to date, but that is going to have to shift because as the project explodes at the end, into a full scale event of the proportions that we are now thinking about, I can't possibly be present at everything, and that is fine with me. (Int.: Barb, 5.1) Barbara gives all of the credit to the vision for the project to artist. Her role was to make sure that the practical aspects of the project were viable and then taken care of. Barbara and Heather, her assistant, made sure that the "nuts and bolts" were in order. The practical aspects meant to try and accommodate Lacy's artistic vision and to fit it into the time frame, financial and logistical parameters. I am very much working in collaboration with Heather - and not exclusively -because everything gets framed by Suzanne, but I would say, all of the details get put in place by me and Heather -not without talking to a whole lot of other people and tearing our hair out and running around in circles and saying what do you think, do you think this will work? So for instance the zine, which is becoming an interesting part of the project for the young women, was not Suzanne's idea, and it was the young women's idea and it was encouraged and supported by Heather and me and we made sure that it happens. Whereas it is certainly a part of the project, as a whole, the fact that it happens is because there were people around to say cool, we '11 help you to do that, or cool, we '11 pay for that. So it is hard to say... (back to the question of what kinds of activities is she involved in) there are probably lots of other things, like the nature of each event because, Suzanne will say I think we should do x and then she's literally - in the 122 past at least - been gone for the six weeks or so between saying we should do x and x happening. Which doesn't mean that she hasn't been involved in saying (things like) and it should have, and I think we should, and then perhaps we should... And then she leaves. That's fine, and so Heather and I and others... I am thinking about the Sun Yat Sen project (hand painting performance), we were invited to do something there. Suzanne thought it was a fabulous opportunity, we went there, we had a quick look. She said ya we should do it here and here... an I'll be back in a month. And it will happen. We were obviously interested in doing it this way or we wouldn't have done it...For Heather and me to figure out... how many chairs and tables, how many girls. (Int.: Barb, 5.3) We tried to accommodate what Suzanne wants, but because she is not present, occasionally we come up with something that we think that is a better idea, or that... Well, we come up with options for her, alternatives, so that the visual component is completely under her control, except for the 'Drive' 1 thing, which I insisted should be more of the girls own engagement. That is one of the things I felt was missing was the girls getting engaged in how it should be organized. In retrospect, maybe it would have been better i f it had been organized differently, but on the other hand they did it. So, the visual aspect is Suzanne's, the implementation of it and the getting ... she'll say the poster, I think it should have a hand on it. Then she goes back home. We get a designer, we decide what the poster looks like based on ... you know. Suzanne can't be physically available, and she doesn't really care, aside from the sweeping we should have x, we should do x, this should be better publicized than that was because we 're moving in a c o n t i n u u m towards a very big event. These recruitment events were basically about raising the profile of the project so that it can be as big as she wants it to be at the end. So, in some respects, the tiny details of the recruitment events are not as important as the little tiny details of the big event will undoubtedly be. And she will be in town enough to have the kind of control she requires for that. (Int.: Barb, 6.2) Reflections and Opinions For Barbara, Turning Point was more than a good idea, a fun project or even a job. It was an opportunity to work with extremely interesting people where what you do might make a difference. For me, I think the metaphor Turning Point is pretty powerful on a lot of levels. For me it is a turning point in my own career. It's been extremely energizing and engaging and also frustrating and maddening as anything that is interesting is. I am really interested in broadening my scope as an administrator and as I near the end of my career....I like to do stuff that has social significance, which is not to say that art doesn't, like the performing arts and the Firehall Theatre, but I guess for me it is a shift in my own focus and understanding that my talents and skills, as limited as 1 Local ly , Commercial Drive is often referred to as simply The Drive. 123 they are in the administrative field, can be used for stuff that perhaps is more meaningful to people. (Int.: Barb, 8.1) Role of the artist Barbara found Lacy to be very understanding about the administrative function of this project and also to be generous with her praise as well as accommodating with the practicality of some administrative decisions. Yet, she found the fluidity of the boundaries of roles sometimes frustrating. It wasn't always clear which decisions were aesthetic ones reserved for the artist, whether it would be up for discussion, or could be determined by someone else other than the artist. She noted that Lacy did accommodate Barbara's ideas as well as the girls and others. She (Lacy) has given these collaborators, these young women far more collaborative leeway than she is normally used to doing. She is a huge collaborator by nature, but I think there have been points at which I or others have said, Gee, I really think you should ask the girls about that. And she does, but that isn't the first thing that occurs to her. It is now, interesting, now that we are down to the crunch. She won't complete the details of the final event until she has a meeting with the girls next week. She has found that every time she does creative brainstorming with the girls they just... she gets a whole lot of things solved that she can't solve. Which is a normal thing for her, but it would normally be another adult artist... she collaborates hugely. And she is also doing that with designers and professional artists here. But the girls, in the various permutations, a group of five going to her hotel for dinner or a group of thirty in a formal session - as we will have next Saturday - or a couple of them going onto the site with her and just dreaming. That is where some of the really neatest ideas have come from for this project. And she is quite aware of that, and is quite willing to proceed that way. (Int.: Barb, 9.3) Collaboration was a term that was often used to describe Lacy's mode of working with communities. Yet, the notion of artistic authorship and control over the aesthetic were also prevalent. These contradictory notions were acted out throughout this project and also appeared in the published literature and press releases surrounding the project and performance. This would ultimately lead to audience and participant unease with the way the project was portrayed. As an example, a one page Under Construction press release dated May 12, 1997; the first paragraph reads: "Under the direction of internationally renowned conceptual/performance artist Suzanne Lacy from California, and supported by a professional production team, the young women will create a performance event unlike anything ever experienced in Vancouver." In the second 124 paragraph it states: "This is a two-year collaboration of a diverse group of Vancouver teenagers who have been changing public perceptions of young women. They are participants in a peer-led social art/community development project whose goal is to use public spaces and personal connections to make the voices of young women heard" (my emphasis). If the production had been truly collaborative and peer-led, then they wouldn't be under the direction of anyone. Collaboration involves shared power in a process. It was an artist directed project, albeit a consultative and cooperative one. Nature of art. Many of the participant and volunteers that I spoke with (on and off the record) did not care whether this project was called a work of art. What did seem to matter to them was that it happened. It was difficult for many of them, who had limited background in visual art, to distinguish what characteristics made this project a work of art. Even Barbara, who is fairly savvy, found that it was hard to identify as art. It didn't matter to Barbara whether it was called art or not, what did matter was the expertise of the individual leading the project. The only thing to me that makes this is a piece of art is the fact that the woman who is doing it and who has done i f for 20 years, calls it art. She calls herself an artist, she has a reputation in the art world, that is coming from a thread that I know very little about, the happenings,... that it is part of a historical continuum, and that it is going to be written up in art journals. That is the only reason I know it's art. I know she'll have control over the visual aesthetics, she has control over its logistics, which she considers a really significant part of the art. I consider it production, but it is visual art for her, that is how it happens, how the audience comes in and goes out and where the performers are, not just what they look like, but how the communications work. She is really into communications. So, that is why it is art, because she is an artist, and she identifies herself as such and because she's identified by her peers as such. (Int.: Barb, 15.2) Audience Barbara doubted that the general audience would understand Under Construction. She recognized the difficulty of the soft nature of the performance, given the harder edged messages that Lacy's had centred many of her previous performances around. Although Barbara, was sure that the overall community would be confused by the performance, she hoped that they would get the key messages that Turning Point was trying to put across. Developing a new culture. How the voices and lives of young women, especially in a community like Vancouver where we have a huge mix of cultures, are going 125 to be... this is what I think it's going to become. This is a slice of...listen to this, watch this, this is who is going to be building the new community in Vancouver. And that is why the metaphor of the construction site... Here watch this, this is who we are, this is who we are becoming, and this is how we can become together... I think. I am not sure yet, because I have not heard the soundtrack yet, and they were a lot of really intense interviews with young women that was based on personal experiences that were quite personal: some having to do with cultural issues, other with abuse issues, and others. So, maybe it's about that. There is a really important thing, that I don't know is happening enough, about the connection with these young women to the women around the world, the global culture. What is it about young women that we can do this to them around the world and even here? So, it has that political edge to it...I think it is a little softer than that. Not really a celebration, but more of a massive manifestation: this is young woman, and young woman in Vancouver. (Int.: Barb, 16.2) Success and evaluation: ease and difficulties. For Barbara, the easiest and the most difficult aspects of the project have fallen into the area of finances. In the beginning it was easy to find funding for the project as it intentionally was designed to meet numerous mandates simultaneously. However, as the project progressed, the artistic vision grew and the budget available for the grand event was no longer in sync and this major issue needed prompt resolution. They needed to hire production staff, recruit 500 young women and 100 volunteers, recruit and train them as well as get all the supplies and transportation necessary for the production. It was a daunting task and a seemingly impossible one. I lost heart, not faith in the project, but faith in the ability to pull it off. We are, for what this is, not for what it's been all along, which has been pretty funky and wonderful and we've produced three events and gals meetings and workshops and media literacy. We've done a lot in the last two years. And I began to think, well that's the project then, that's okay. And it took a crisis for me to understand that no, that is leading up to the event, which is what we've hired Suzanne to do. But I had gotten lost in the details, I couldn't see the forest for the trees. The forest was going to cost a hell of a lot more money than what we had left. That's not a question of spending too much money. We did everything that we were supposed to do, everything was approved by her. It was a community project, we raised the money - we spent the money, but only she approved that we do it. But we didn't see the truck coming. (Laugh) in a way, and as an administrator, I am slightly embarrassed by this admission because I can't understand why I didn't get that it was going to be this huge. And also, as I was going to say, I am part-time, but I work a lot more than half-time on this project, but there are a couple of other things I have to keep on the burner. My assistant Heather works 10 hours a 126 week and is a full-time arts student. We have two U.B.C. students working for us, one at 10 hours a week one at 4 hours a week, and that is it! (Int.: Barb, 11.1) At the time of this interview, the financial crisis was nearly resolved and the project was well underway. Success was seen in accomplishing the final show, to see it all come off without too many hitches. I wonder about the personal toll that it took on Barbara, and her assistant, Heather. From Barbara's description, it sounds as though they were overworked, understaffed, and had out of range expectations set by someone else. Success was described often as it related to completion of the show. Participants also considered how they would personally evaluate both the process and the product. This project is a challenge, and in the end it will be a coup, I will feel that I have pulled something magnificent off. I already do, and that was a part of the crisis which is ... We have done a hell of a lot over the last two years, we've raise a hell of a lot of money, we've got these girls engaged, we've done a lot of neat things, so what's the problem, so we don't do an event?... Someone had to remind me What did you hire Suzanne to do? ... well ya, a big event. It will be a big personal success, for me privately and personally if I am able to accomplish it. (Int.: Barb, 13.1) Barbara described various levels of success for Turning Point. She felt that in many ways it had already been successful in achieving some of its goals. I already feel that it is a success, okay, because the girls have gotten engaged to the point where they are helping to determine the shape of its parts, that they are writing they determine... the hand logo is theirs ... the way The Drive worked. They chose The Drive, and then they went and actually planned the performance on The Drive. I guess it will be successful to me if all the goals are met. If we can really get 500 young women with the demographic split that is similar to the demographics in the city, and i f they get why they are there, and the press responds in a way that is pro-female. I think that will be successful. (Int.: Barb, 14.2) When I asked Barbara what she hoped to gain from her experience in Turning Point, she told me that she had already acquired what she had hoped. She had formed the working relationships with other community members that she admired. I have already gained it, I think. Which is a real working relationship with a lot of people I really admire in town. I feel like I have a new network of people in this city and that is because of the work I did on Suzanne's behalf. 2 Personal and professional stakes were associated with this project. For Barbara, as the producer of the show, the stakes were high, as she said earlier, it was her reputation. This poses some conflict as many of the decisions were made at the director level, beyond her control. As she says in this quote, she was working towards the end performance also a personal accomplishment. 127 I got involved in the Roundhouse (community centre) because Susan Gordon and Joslyn Kobylka met me through this (project) and now I am on an advisory board for the park board. I have learned a lot about the Artists in Residence Program. I have learned a lot about the visual arts just by being the producer of a so-called visual arts event. It has kind of expanded my knowledge of the community in Vancouver and working with a lot of really great gals. I gained a working relationship with someone I adore, in Heather, who just walked up to me and said, I want to be a part of it. A lot of people have done that, but she has worked her butt off. I can see working with her for ever i f she would have me. She is just a great great collaborator. She is the kind of person that thinks about stuff a long time before I think about stuff. I ' l l say Heather have you??? and she will say Ya, it's already done! And she has a great aesthetic sensibility. (Int.: Barb, 13.2) Barbara offered a three fold response to my question about what she had hoped others would gain from their experience in Turning Point. She identified three separate groups: the participating girls, the community, and Canadian artists. My sense is that, the girls that have been involved will have a sense that they are not alone, that there is a way to connect with people that you have never met before that works, just because of your gender. I think that for some of the young women, this was news, and this was good news. That even though they were culturally really, really different, or economically, there was something that they had worked on together. It was like nothing that they had never done before, not the project itself, but the fact that they were collaborating with young women, because they were young women, no matter what else they were. So for me that is a significant thing. I hope the girls, I've seen it, so I know it is happening with some of them, will just come up with confidence, being able to speak their mind, being able to assume that people are interested in what they have to say, because people are interested in what they have to say. The press is -it is kind of an interesting set up that we've given them, but I think that they are rising to the challenge. I think, I hope that the community art people understand the nature of performance art, temporal public art, that public art can be temporal, not just monuments and boulders, I think that is interesting. I hope that I can find some Canadian artists who want to do stuff like this, because now I know how to do it. (Int.: Barb, 14.1) Heather When Heather and I last met, it was by chance at a mutual friend's wedding. Heather had received but not yet reviewed the interview material I had sent her from our earlier interview. She finished her degree at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in the 128 spring of 2000. While at the time of the interview she was a full-time student, in the beginning of her program. After my lunch interview with Barbara (March, 28, 1997), I stole Heather away from their office. We went for coffee at The Grind Coffee Shop, on Main Street. Heather had a long personal history with activist work and support work for women in Quebec. She worked as an animateur, in a daytime drop-in centre for women. Her previous art experience centred around photography and photo-based art. She holds a belief that art "needs to come out of the gallery and back to serve the community more from which it came...it needs to be more of a political thing and come together more with the people" (Int.: Heather, 1.1). Heather describes the role of the artist as related to being a story-teller. "Art is supposed to be the story-teller, or visual helper, in a way... as artists, you can create something that helps someone figure out something or illuminates an issue or a situation, and I feel that it belongs in the community" (Int.: Heather, 5.2). She first became involved in Turning Point, when she met Barbara and learned of the project. Descriptions of Turning Point and Under Construction Each participant described the project and performance in their own words. Some chose to use some of the tag phrases found in various media releases, while others used entirely their own phrasing. By asking each of them to describe in their own terms, I was hoping to find out what they understood the heart of Turning Point to be. Heather describes Turning Point in this way: It (Turning Point) is a community art project, it is for and by and based-on the work of Suzanne Lacy, and a huge number of girls, but mostly 21 young women who have through this long facilitation process trying to figure out what they want to say, how they want to say it, what are their terms.... It is an art project that has, at it's base, a grass-roots involvement of young people, but it keeps fanning out to more people, and what do they want to say, and then it shifts it a little bit because they have concerns about this and it resonates with the other girls and that goes through. So, it is a community art project. (Int.: Heather, 6.2) Experiences Heather joined Turning Point to assist in a two week workshop at ECIAD in August 1996. Heather compared the two week workshop to first year art school. She saw this as being an intensive primer for the girls. They learned what performance art was, what public art was as well as the process for making a work of art. - 1 2 9 Basically they did a whole year, almost, in many ways -what I've been doing in my first year of art school is what they did in that two weeks. Really, I noticed a lot of similarities, it was really intense for them. I think that some of them really got it. Some of them didn't really get it, or it was too much, or will filter in later. It was facilitated by professional facilitators to help the girls with the things they had trouble with. So for two weeks these girls talked about what is art, how do you create an artwork. That is a very big thing right there -considerations of site, scale, what does your piece say, how do you present yourself? And then there was so much to do... how do you help a sixteen-year-old articulate things that are perhaps, more than they have articulated before. So, it was a very big thing. (Int.: Heather, 2.2) At the end of it (the two weeks at ECIAD) the girls gave a presentation based on what they learned, and they came up with a lot of the things that we have been doing for the past six months, like the hand-painting and the metaphoric connections. But all of these girls came from different places, they were all... a lot of them didn't know each other. Some of them didn't even know what they were doing there. I guess they understood in some ways, but I think in a real way, I don't know if all them really understood. From our core girls we have 21 out of 30, or of the 29, which is quite good. They are totally engaged and they completely get it and they are powerfully motivated. They are really great that way. (Int.: Heather, 3.1) Roles. For the ECIAD workshop, Heather was responsible for all production related tasks including booking tours and transportation for the girls; ensuring that all the classrooms were open for them, as well as arranging for food. Heather worked more or less full-time for Barbara following the workshop until January 1997, when she shifted to part-time hours. She was the production assistant, so for a particular event, like a hand painting event, she was responsible for the details like: Setting up the posters to make sure that people could find the place and make sure the food was there, organize the rooms. We would find out when Suzanne would come down, once a month, call a meeting that day. It would be my job to get the letter out to the girls, do the mail-outs, call-backs to the girls, are you coming, do you need a ride, are you bringing a friend? Whatever, wrangle the girls. Then I would need to book the room, get the right number to the caterers. If we are doing a performance, and we needed to get henna; if we were getting t-shirts made, maybe, painting, we would need to get tables set up....(Int.: Heather, 6.1) Reflections and Opinions Heather was happy to have worked on the Turning Point project. But more than that, she appreciated the experiences that it came with it. She valued the relationships with her co-workers and the girl participants. She told me she would be thrilled to work with the girls again in a future project. 130 Growth and learning. The real legacy is what the girls take on and teach other people. For me the project is totally and completely the girls. I get so thrilled when I get to hang around them. I am such a fan. I have gone through all these emotions from being really irritated by them... and then they are just amazing. Some of the core girls, who I know the best, have gone from point A all the way around and back again. The girls really help each other. It is a really safe environment for the girls to just help each other with issues, things that they needed to work out. So, the art project -what is it about? It is hard to answer that because it is about all of these little things that happen. (Int.: Heather 8.2) I asked Heather why she stayed involved in the project. Keep in mind I am a first year art student. For me as an art student, to be involved in a project like this is ... so tasty. I wouldn't have been able to hope for anything as great as this. This is such valuable experience for me. (Int.: Heather, 8.4) I asked Heather what she hoped others, the girls, the audience and the community might gain from the project. The girls overwhelmingly took the priority in this case. That is hard for me to say... I have looked at this project as the process from the girls, and so my thoughts have always been on the process of the girls are they getting something out of it, is it a meaningful experience for them? How can we make it more meaningful? What are the needs that we are meeting? I haven't really thought of the audience, like I sort of don't care, I don't care if nobody shows up... but I do, I want a lot of people to be there, and I want them to look at it and see whatever it is that the girls want them to see, and they walk away with something that is lasting. (Int.: Heather, 10.1) Nature of Art I asked Heather what makes this art? This was a difficult question for her, given that she spent the majority of her time on the project dealing with production particulars, and not the global picture. The attitude of the beholder.... the main event may be seen as just an event, like a rock concert. Because it's going to be engineered, we are going to get a tonne of girls, we are going to ship them in, we are going to place them, dress them up and they are going to do their thing. That is very crass in some ways, compared to the process in how we have gone through and ... you know the project has so many different levels, and my level has been on the ground. So, it is on the details. It is very hard for me to see the whole thing because my whole job has been involved with particulars. So, when we have an event, I don't know how it has gone. I haven't got a clue. So, it is very hard for me to answer a lot of these questions... (Int.: Heather, 11.2) 131 Community Turning Point manufactured a community of girls. However, the longevity of that community was fairly ambiguous knowing from the onset that they were brought together to participate in this finite project. Heather hoped for at least an individually lasting project, in terms of the opportunity for growth for the girls. It is going to very interesting ... I wish that in ten years I bump into some of the girls and (they tell me) I've been doing this and this and this, and you know that Turning Point thing we did years ago? Well that really helped me when I needed to... whatever. I guess in a more tangible way the leadership of the abilities of the girls have learned, or those sorts of things, have definitely helped, those things you can put a name on. But I think that there is a lot of other stuff you can't put a name on that has happened to the girls that will come out later. Those sorts of things will happen to me to, all the production stuff, working with great people, and those sorts of things. And for me, because I am an arts student, the more interesting stuff is the stuff that I can't name yet, the stuff that I won't even know about until after the project is done. (Int.: Heather, 12.1) Success and evaluation. The ways of measuring success is complex when dealing with such a multifaceted project. I asked Heather how she would know that the project has been a success. She answered in terms of the audience, the girls and herself. She wasn't sure how one would assess the success of the effect on the audience, but felt that the project would need to be assessed in administrative terms, as in the promotional material, good reviews and visibility. For Heather, success for her would mean a worthwhile project in the eyes of the girls. It will be successful to me, i f at the end of it the girls - whom I've come to know-feel that this process has been really worthwhile to them, and that they are really happy with where they've gone from when started to where they are now. It's been easy or hard.... For me that will be the most important thing. I don't know how that is going to affect the other types of community art that are happening in the city, the community centre art pieces. I hope that it doesn't affect them adversely, because this has a huge budget compared to those... I don't know, the town is very political in those ways and I don't know who gets what and who doesn't. (Int.: Heather, 10.3) Heather had some internal, philosophical battles with the notion of community art. For me it is to reconcile what I think community art should be, what my prejudices and biases are and to learn to be patient with the project and to allow the process to happen, and to not put on it my ideas of... or my biases of what I think is happening, or isn't happening or what should be happening or shouldn't be happening. (Int.: Heather, 12.2) 132 Reading over Heather's words, I wonder why I didn't ask her what her expectations were for the project. What were her biases of what she though should have been happening but wasn't? She also had some struggle with Lacy's working style. It is very difficult to work under direction when the direction changes all the time. That is the nature of the beast, and I can't fault her on that, it is not her. There are all sorts of things. I had to get to know who she was, because I had to find out what her comfort level was working with others, I mean all those sorts of things. You know the thing with Barb, we all have to find out how we fit together and then that is how we work together, we have done a lot of work that way. It's been great. (Int.: Heather, 13.1) Heather was working very closely with Barbara and many of the core girls in the project at the time of this interview. One of these long term extremely active core girls was Frieda. Frieda April 23, 1997, sitting at the Grind, (the same coffee shop I went to with Heather). Frieda (self selected pseudonym) and I we sat talking over a tape recorder and notes. Frieda was the first Turning Point participant I interviewed. We talked a bit about pseudonyms. We thought that it would be fun to use names of famous women artists rather than arbitrary names. At first our conversation seemed a little awkward. I explained the use of the tapes and the need for anonymity. She wasn't particularly concerned if anyone knew who she was or her opinion. It may become clear that the girls themselves when reading this study, would certainly know who was who. Description of Turning Point and Under Construction I asked each participant to tell me, in their own words what the whole project was about, as though I knew nothing about it. Frieda frequently gave presentations to groups at schools to try and recruit more girls to the project. Frieda told me: Turning Point is an art and social action project. And we are interested in empowering young women, giving young women a voice in Vancouver. Because there are a lot of issues pertaining to young women that the rest of... that all you guys should know about. Like, just, women's issues in Vancouver, eating disorders, for example, relationships at home and relationships in general, with your family, with guys, guy-girl relationships and what it is like to be an ethni