May 08, 2011
Thank you Dr. Cartiere (Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Emily Carr University of Art + Design)
Distinguished and honoured guests,
my fellow 2011 graduates,
faculty and staff,
and all of the loved ones who are here to celebrate with us
and those who are not able to be here today.
I want to personally acknowledge the support of my own family, who are far away from Vancouver and also my relations who have come before. During a recent project at Emily Carr, I was led to discover photos from my grandmother’s college graduation in 1938. Until finding the photos I did not know that any of my grandparents had attended, let alone graduated from, a post secondary institution.
Found in the midst of course work that dealt with a materialist sense of time, those photos made me aware of how we live concurrently in the past, present and future - through the things and stories that we encounter.
Even the place of our studies is permeated with the legacy of those who have gone before us. I acknowledge that in this place to which most of us have arrived from someplace else, we are guests.
Vancouver is indeed a very old gathering place, and it is recognized as the unceeded traditional territory of the Coast Salish people. This is the source of confusion for international students and even Canadians from outside of British Columbia since, unlike the rest of the country, the aboriginal claim to most of BC has not yet been relinquished through treaties.
So owing to these gracious and hospitable people, histories and places, my task here is to speak a farewell to Emily Carr University on behalf of the graduating masters students.
Do you remember just over a year ago, during our Seminar in Research, we decided to host a group exhibition and a writing symposium under the title Killer Texts?
Leading up to the somewhat unlikely quote that inspired our exhibition, Avital Ronell in the book Crack Wars describes a moment in Flaubert’s Madam Bovary as the first declaration of war on unregulated drugs. In the book the apothecary wants to write the names of everyone who has been drunk on the door of the town hall.
“The drunk, like the adulterous Emma, liberates uncontrolled signs into a public sphere... Like the work which contains them, they become killer texts, triggering a chain reaction of uncontrolled mimetic caliber. Thus even translators of such a text are endangered by the effects of contagion.” (98)
In our exhibition we were considering the integration of art and text. Art and design are maybe like the public drunk or the adulterous Emma --they get circulated in public, as texts. People who read or encounter our ideas risk becoming infected by them.
In some ways, Avital Ronell uses drug addiction to capture our morbid attention, so that we think about public-ness. Does the liberation of radical and dangerous “signs” or unanticipated new ideas indicate a public sphere?
Much of these graduate studies have been an education in the production of unanticipated ideas, and in how to place them in public. From Dr. Burnett’s challenge in one of our first classes, to make something go viral, to the thesis project which challenged us to produce new knowledges within existing discourses, we were given the assignment to put ideas into the world.
And so, we took the first steps.
Besides Killer Texts, we presented at most of Emily Carr’s conferences.
We showed our work in Emily Carr exhibition spaces, on its exterior surfaces, and in a new exhibition venue, 1612 Gallery, where thanks to Helgi Kristiansson’s research project, solo and group experiments by us as well as and other graduate students from Vancouver and Europe were shown.
Our work was also seen throughout the lower mainland at:
the surrey art gallery’s e-mixers
Elissa Cristall Gallery
UBCs Norm Theatre
the PNE Container Art Exhibition
Further within Canada, we distributed our ideas to:
Banff Centre Residencies
Pecha Kucha Victoria
Nuit Blanch in Toronto
and the Western Canada Communication Graduate Student’s Conference in Nelson, BC with SFU and University of Calgary
Internationally, we presented Emily Carr-generated ideas at:
the Cross Border Relations Conference at the University of Washington
the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas
Raleigh First Night in North Carolina
Society of Photographic Education in Atlanta, Georgia
Hub M3 at the University of Salford, UK
Spike Island in Bristol, UK
the WAAG Society in Amsterdam
Kei University in Tokyo
and the Saudi Aramco Future Centre in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Originating from Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Iceland, the United States, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and BC - we are a group of people who have already begun to make art and design projects go viral in subtle and persuasive ways.
On behalf of the 4th graduating masters class, I want to end with a message to the relatively young faculty of graduate studies:
may this program be infused with a sense of simultaneous time - in which the histories and experiences of the region, the university, the instructors and most importantly the students are treasured and integrated within current practice and future planning
and, may the production of new and unexpected ideas, designs, artworks and texts through the people who study and teach in the MAA program, become viral within local and global publics.
With enormous pride, I say thank you and farewell to the MAA program at Emily Carr.
To my fellow students, may this be both a well remembered past and the beginning of a long and satisfying life work as artists, film makers, designers, writers, dancers, performers, and more. I will miss you all.
Congratulations on our collective achievements - now and in the future!
Emily Carr University of Art + Design Convocation
Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
May 7 2011