Contemporary Nomads: 2017-2021
Today, we are witnessing huge population displacements from the Near East and Africa toward the Mediterranean and Western Europe; from South and Central America toward the United States and Canada, and across South East Asia from places such as India, Pakistan and Myanmar toward destinations from Bangladesh, to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia, for example. Religion and ethnicity, as well as economic survival has always played an enormous role in these transnational movements. This research identifies two main axes of movement; one that runs in an East/West direction between Europe, the Far East, and the Americas, and another that runs in a North/South direction connecting Canada and the USA to Mexico and Central and South America. Contemporary Nomads seeks to investigate patterns in these large-scale movements of bodies across international spaces by thinking of them as a transnational choreography, one that speaks to the deep fragmentation that exists between communities within as well as outside national borders, between nationalized and personalized bodies, and between social and political institutions and the ordinary people they were meant to serve.
As a Caribbean-born artist and scholar with an international career in dance, theatre, and performance, I attempt to present my own experiences as well as those of other 'wanderers' within the larger arc of what cultural theorist Stuart Hall calls "contemporary travelling, voyaging and return as fate, as destiny […] as the prototype of the modern or postmodern New World nomad, continually moving between centre and periphery” (Hall in Rutherford, J. 234:1990).
Working across disciplinary platforms but prominently featuring dance, theatre, performance, film, installation and new media technologies, Contemporary Nomads investigates the dynamic organization and re-organization of movement(s) along and around these two axes, with Vancouver as a key hub in some kind of imagined future. The research investigates five stages of the ‘traveler’, ‘migrant’ or ‘refugee’s journey (in the broadest sense of these terms), seeking to find out how, when, and why individuals and populations move from place to place.
These stages are as follows:
1. Home - beginning with the conditions that particular individuals and groups of people currently live under and call home, and what makes them dream of leaving.
2. The Parting – starting with the moment that someone decides to leave a known location or ‘home’. In short, we are looking at when the physical journey actually begins.
3. The Journey – the particular route taken by each person or group, and any event, experience, situation, landscape marker (a mountain, a body of water, a person, a path, a fellow traveller, a spoken word, etc.), or other experience that was unique to or crucial for the journey.
4. The Arrival - the feeling of making it, or conversely not making it to the desired destination (a state of limbo).
5. The Settlement/Return – the process of making a ‘home’ in the new location, and/or the dream of finding one’s way back - the (im)possibility of return.
Dr. Henry Daniel Principal Investigator - SFU/School for the Contemporary Arts
Dr. Ali Abdi Collaborator UBC/Educational Studies. Somali born Canadian Dr. Abdi is Professor and Head of the Department of Educational Studies at UBC and a researcher in citizenship and human rights education, international development education, multi-centric philosophies and methodologies of education, postcolonial studies in education, and social and cultural foundations of education.
Simone Rapisarda Collaborator SFU/SCA. Italian born Canadian Professor Rapisarda is an award-winning filmmaker and educator. His feature-length films challenge the traditional borders between creative and critical practice; between fiction, documentary, oral history and anthropology. His films have garnered accolades at festivals such as Locarno, Amsterdam, Vienna, Rotterdam, Ann Arbor, Montreal, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and are part of the permanent collections of museums and galleries such as the MoMA in New York and the National Gallery in Washington D.C.
Dr. Handel Wright Collaborator UBC/Educational Studies. Wright is a Sierra Leone born Canadian and Professor, Deputy Head, and Director of the Centre for Culture, Identity & Education at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on cultural studies of education, multiculturalism (critical and comparative) and its alternatives, anti-racism, critical race theory, cosmopolitanism, interculturalism, identity issues (youth, Africana, politics of difference, complexities of identity and identification), comparative and international education issues, and postcolonialism and diaspora.
Adam Basanta Composer/Sound Designer. Israeli born Canadian Basanta is a sought after and internationally acclaimed composer and sound artist. His work investigates perception – and listening in particular – as an active, participatory, multi-modal activity which is distributed throughout a variety of human and non-human agencies.
Chimerik Media Collective Multimedia Designers. Taiwanese born Canadians Sammy and Shanghan are Co-Founders/Co-Artistic Directors of Chimerik, which seeks to converge visual arts, cinema, new media, music, sound art, dance, movements, design, and technology into new languages that can weave through art, design, performance, research and the commercial world
A live performance and audio/video installation, nómadas takes its inspiration from the current large-scale movements of bodies across international spaces as a type of chaotic transnational choreography. The work is part of the larger, long term Contemporary Nomads research project, which explores “the deep fragmentation that exists between communities within as well as outside national borders, between nationalized and personalized bodies, and between social and political institutions and the ordinary people they were meant to serve” (Daniel, 2017).
the live performance