Students perform in ‘Art Speaks’ series

Samad Fawole, Contributing Writer

A show at the Tarble Arts Center featured four students and three types of performance Wednesday night.

The first performance consisted of two groups of two individuals moving and placing an object in different corners of the room, which Brendan Fernades, an internationally recognized Canadian contemporary artist who specializes in installation and dance/visual art, said was a concept of people in a playground. He said it also expressed the idea of two bodies becoming a new body.

The second performance was each individual positioned in four different cubes with limited space expressing themselves through movements and stretching even though they were in a cage-like atmosphere. The idea behind that performance was people enduring difficult or uncomfortable situations, Fernandes said.

The final performance was called the “free fall,” which was the idea of falling and getting back up, which is supposed to give people a perspective of how people fall, react to the situation and what steps they take next, Fernandes said.

The meaning behind the last performance was meant to highlight the idea of picking oneself up when they are down or facing challenges in life, he said. This performance was acted out by dancers taking turns falling and then coming together in groups of three to pick up the fourth member. This conveyed the feeling of people helping each other achieve goals in life, and it also communicated the importance of having supportive people during tough times.

Fernandes is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program and a receipent of a Robert Rauschenberg Fellowship. In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award, and he is currently the receipent of a 2017 Canada Council New Chapter grant.

Fernandes, a fifth generation Kenyan who later moved to Canada when he was 9 years old, started as a ballet dancer from ages 6 to 16. Fernandes’ project addresses issues of race, queerness, culture, migration, protest and other forms of collective movement.

Fernandes said he utilizes his African background by incorporating elements from the culture into his performance to give it meaning.

He also incorporated the concept of the dancers doing “invisible labor” and looking effortless on stage while doing so.

Fernandes said he was able to incorporate that in his shows by giving the dancers freedom to express themselves and not controlling their moves on stage.

“The idea behind my performance is for people to express themselves freely in a safe space and also the idea of people coming together to create something special, which can be bringing people together to dance or move as one,” he said.

Fernandes said he felt it is important to work with students because it challenges them and brings them out of their comfort zones by giving them material they are uncomfortable with.

He said he uses his performance to protest issues like police brutality, which he does so by incorporating different colored lights in the backgrounds of the performance and using different camera angles to convey emotion.

Samad Fawole can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].