Charlottetown’s seventh annual Art In The Open contemporary arts festival took place August 26th and drew in hundreds of spectators. The artwork and performances in this year’s festival followed a “School” theme, which acted as a reminder of how much we can communicate through art and culture, as well as how much the two can teach us.
Art In The Open takes Charlottetown’s historic downtown and transforms it into an open-air gallery for one day each year. The festival is open to those of all ages, with no admission cost. For eight hours, the public is invited to engage in, explore and appreciate the creation of visual art in the form of installations, screenings and projections, performances, dance, sculptures, and more. The festival also draws attention to the importance of urban greenspace and coming together as a community.
Though this year’s festival was brimming with diverse talent, the three works that stood out the most to us were Soft Snow by Millefiore Clarkes & Gerard L. Clarkes, Song Catching – The Bog by Charles Campbell and Whitewash by Nadine Valcin. All three of pieces touch on important social justice issues surrounding war and racism, as a true school should, leaving an impact on the crowd—or students, if you will.
The projection and live performance combination of Soft Snow was set to contemporary classical music. The flute, piano and three voices that make up the melodies created a soft sound and was performed while images of war and explosions played on the screen. This performance carried a mood of sombre and sadness and was an overall moving experience.
The live-acting performance of Song Catching – The Bog tells the story of a boy who travels back in time to interview the genetic forebears of the Island. Touching on race, justice and complicity, this performance takes a look into Charlottetown’s early black community: The Bog. Named after the land they lived on, this community is now often forgotten along with the once boglike quality of the land.
The collection of projected images with text of Whitewash bring about a powerful message about slavery in Canada and the slave families that were brought to Prince Edward Island by loyalists. This piece brings to light how nine generations of descendants have adapted and have left very little trace of their origins.
Other notable mentions from this year’s Art In The Open festival were the tiny fairies and goblins of An Enchanted Forest, the strongly school-themed desktop art pieces of Disrupted Students, and the humourously relevant message of Existential Crisis Hotline.