Two Master of Fine Arts students from UBC’s Okanagan campus are taking over the Woodhaven Nature Conservancy from October 22 to 25 for an interactive, site-specific performance art piece.
Lara Haworth and Nicole Cormaci, co-creators of the project, say visitors to Woodhaven can expect to encounter and interact with a fully functional border patrol unit, on duty from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“We will have uniforms, a processing booth, infrastructure, visa forms — the works,” says Haworth. “We will also be inviting participants from the community to play border agents under our work experience program.
“Of course, this is a performance art piece, so there is a high level of playfulness and absurdity going on in here.”
The objective of the piece, titled Woodhaven Customs and Border Patrol (WCBP): Securing Woodhaven’s Borders, is to get people thinking about the way they cross borders, as well as how boundaries are created, protected and managed.
“In the piece we are asking questions about the separation of wilderness spaces from civilization — or, nature from culture — and also asking pretty fundamental questions about the existence of borders — national, regional, provincial,” says Haworth. “Hopefully, what it will do is provoke an understanding that the wilderness is political as well.”
Haworth and Cormaci have been developing the performance since March, and will be performing as border agents. They say the piece is designed for people of all ages — including children — and encourage the community to take the opportunity to come out for a brand-new adventure at a well-loved Okanagan park.
“WCBP is an interactive exhibit that stems partially from our realization that crossing a border is an intensely theatrical experience,” says Cormaci. “We wanted to explore the often absurd performances that take place at the border and hope it will start new conversations.”
The performance art piece is part of a larger project called the Woodhaven Eco-Art Project, created by Nancy Holmes and supported by the Hampton Grant, to bring together university faculty, graduate students and local artists for various eco-friendly art projects that promote environmental awareness about fragile ecosystems, endangered species, the challenges of stewardship, and Kelowna’s history of environmental activism.
An art opening, which will include WCBP and work by other artists including Lori Mairs, Jim Kalnin, Lois Huey-Heck, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 24, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the park.
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