From September 2012 to February 2013, the children of St. George's YouthNet took part in a project titled, Moving Images. The project was designed and facilitated by artists Melinda Spooner and Ariella Pahlke. Moving Images was sponsored by the Inter-Arts division of the Canada Council for the Arts, in conjunction with St. George's YouthNet and partnering organizations Bus Stop Theatre, Centre for Art Tapes, Centreline Studio, CFAT, Henry's, Lorna Lillo, and Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre. Moving Images brought together musicians, actors, dancers, storytellers, spoken word, video and visual artists from the North End of Halifax in collaborative partnerships with youth. The project aims to create new experimental hybrid art forms that focused on youth and the role of the arts in strengthening communities.
Beginning with an exploration of what they knew/valued and what they wanted to know more about in their community, the children explored their neighbourhood through various forms of art and movement, using creative processes that cumulatively knit together language, sound, visual art, movement and video. The participatory and collaborative process emphasized the youth's potential to find their creative voice to build a shared vision and community narratives that can work as powerful mediums for expression and advocacy.
The results of the children's exploration and experimentation are featured in this website, and are being presented in a community celebration, installation, and performance on February 22nd 2013 at the Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At this event members of their family, community mentors, organizations and the public are invited to view their performances, artwork, videos, photography, interactive website, and to take part in a celebration of their interdisciplinary artwork.
The following are some snapshots of Moving Images:
Mapping key places, imagining yourself, and art walks
The project began with the children collaborating to identify key places in their community by creating a large art map. They added geographical locations that were both known and unknown, and of interest to them in their neighbourhood.
In an effort to connect them with some of these places we went on several 'art walks' through the North End streets collecting found words, photos, rubbings, video, sound, movement, objects, and drawings, which all got reworked and interpreted into compositions that combined various art forms. The idea behind the art walks was to encourage the children to discover new things in familiar places, and also to see their community as an inspiring place with a wealth of 'source material' for creative production. The sound art walks were led by local composer and musician Lukas Pearse, who worked with the children to create soundscapes from their found sounds.
Self-portraits that the children (and some staff) created populate the map, as well as pop-up video links made by several of the children.
Writing, recording and disseminating: reinterpreting and repurposing found words
Local poet Ken Ward led the children in composing the "found" words into spoken word statements about their neighbourhood. Ken asked them questions such as "If you were the King of Gottingen, what would you want to tell people about where you live?" Statements such as "Childhood is a dream to be free and I love that we all have freedom" (written by Keva, age 7) and "Gangster went to the store to buy a fish so he could give it to the food bank," (Isaac, age 11) were printed by the children onto colourful paper and then posted back onto the streets. Days later as they walked down the main street they could see their own thoughts and voices posted in their neighbourhood as they participated in the formation of their own cultural expression. The children also worked with local artist Sobaz Benjamin at Centreline Studio to create and record spoken word segments and a sound track (including the found sound soundscapes).
Moving through the streets freely and structuring a dance performance
In another workshop the children visited the Mi'kmaq Native Friendship Centre with program coordinator, Glenn Knockwood, to learn parkour along side Halifax Parkour. They spoke about the philosophy of parkour as a way of moving through the streets freely to negotiate obstacles by climbing, jumping, running and balancing. They were invited back to free weekly parkour lessons offered through the Mi'kmaq Centre.
As the children performed parkour on the streets they also videotaped their movements. They then learned to edit the video with Ariella Pahlke, and presented their video to a local dancer and choreographer Veronique MacKenzie. She worked with them to choreograph a dance based on the children's interpretation of movements from the parkour video. The dance piece was also inspired by and structured on the sound mix of the children's spoken word and soundscapes.
Natasha Condé-Jahnel and Claire Waqué led the youth in a workshop, which encouraged them to imagine important people, places or characters in their neighbourhood as with Ken Ward's workshop. They used their bodies to physically and vocally represent the important people/places in their community. The theatrical component of this project aimed to offer the youth a form of expression that enabled them to filter what was on their mind into their body and outward to an audience.
Costumes and characters from objects and stories found here
Working with Leesa Hamilton, a fashion designer from NSCAD University the children created costumes from found materials. They were asked questions such as "what kind of characters live in your neighbourhood?" and "what would you be if you could be anything?" From a large pile of glitter, wire, old discs, film, gems, fabric, lace, buttons, snaps, shells, magazines, beads, twine and robot parts, they created characters and costumes that will be worn for a performance at the community celebration.
Working with video and web-based interactivity
Throughout the project, Ariella Pahlke has worked with the children to document and interpret their community and aspects of all the other project activities, using video. Some of the children also learned how to edit and complete their own short videos. These are accessible by clicking on the portraits that say, 'Watch my video!' The children also learned about web-interactivity by participating in the creation of animations and pop-up features for the web site, created by Lukas Steinman.
Working with Nicole Sylvester at the NSCAD Dawson Printshop, the children learned how to use a traditional letterpress, and created posters to advertise their celebration and website. They viewed a wide collection of historic presses, and utilized type from the 1000 drawers of preserved wooden and metal type.
Fostering Mentorship and volunteerism in the community
YouthNet addresses the individual needs of youth by establishing long-term relationships with mentors and volunteers. YouthNet's many volunteers were there each week to focus on strengthening confidence, fostering personal growth and teaching life skills. To this end the junior leaders also provided support to younger children to create an atmosphere of friendship, encouragement, and striving for personal excellence.
Of special note is the volunteer work of photographer Lorna Lillo who documented many of our workshops, thus creating a record of the children's achievements.
PARTNERS AND SPONSORS
- Ariella Pahlke (facilitator)
- Melinda Spooner (facilitator)
- Sobaz Benjamin
- Natasha Condé-Jahnel
- Leesa Hamilton
- Glenn Knockwood
- Veronique Mackenzie
- Lukas Pearse
- Niko Silvester
- Lukas Steinman
- Clare Waqué
- Ken Ward
- Lindell Smith
- Nima Tabatataei
- Mary Alison Columbus
- Sophie Malouin
- Stef Warme
- Rozzi Curran
- Jesse Blackwood
- Lauren Kay
- Christen Kong
- Corinne Hooper
- Haydn Watters
- Han (Jeffery) Bao
- Yun-Chung (Lewis) Fang
- Jane Neish
- Natasha Condé-Jahnel
- Ashley Stanley
- Jessica Holland
- Sarina Piercy