Punk musician Art Bergmann has a message for the government that just awarded him its highest civilian honour.
“The Canadian government should stop taking First Nations to court … and give them fresh water, drinking water, and suitable housing, and to honour the treaties,” says Bergmann, one of the latest inductees to the Order of Canada.
Bergmann, who has spent his life writing anti-establishment songs, was honoured for his “indelible contributions to the Canadian punk music scene, and for his thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities,” said Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.
He made a splash in the Vancouver punk scene in the ’70s and ’80s as the frontman for the K-Tels, which was later renamed the Young Canadians. He now produces solo work from his home in Rocky View County, Alta.
He spoke to As It Happens guest host Helen Mann about what it’s like to win an award from the power he’s spent his life raging against. Here is part of their conversation.
First of all, congratulations.
Well, a thank you is in order, I suppose. Thank you very much. I’m deeply surprised and humbled.
What first went through your mind when you got the news?
I just thought it was a joke by maybe some friends that have grown up through the years and now work … at the Governor General’s office.
Why would you think it was a joke?
Because I have been toiling in the underground for years, and awards like this are kind of anathema. So, you know, this would be the ultimate leg-pulling, I would think.
Well, the Governor General, in recognizing you, says that … it is for … your “indelible contributions to the Canadian punk music scene” and for [your] “thought-provoking discourse on social, gender and racial inequalities.” How does that sound to you?
That sounds great. That sounds wonderful. It’s a lot better than somebody [who] referred to me in the Edmonton Journal as a “generic rock singer” and which I take great offence to.
Because rock singers are generally assholes if I may use the term, and narcissists, and I hope not to be that, ever.
When you were in the height of the punk scene, would it have occurred to you that one day you would be honoured with the Order of Canada for being a key part of the punk scene?
No, never. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever.
It almost seems counter to what punk is.
We were against the idea of power and power of the state.
Yeah, and so it’s quite a leap.
It’s quite a leap. I’m sure the screams of “sellout” will be coming fast and furious as we go, but I assure everyone that there’s no 30 pieces of silver involved.
I was radicalized by shows like As It Happens, especially after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.– Art Bergmann, punk musician
What did punk mean to you when you first came across it?
It meant ultimate freedom, ultimate tearing down of status quos wherever they might be.
When you said it meant freedom for you — freedom from what?
Well, at the time, I was just writing songs … and not having any direction, and it taught me that there are things to fight against in this world, and you can use music to do it.
Who were your punk idols? Who first inspired you?
Well, I don’t like the term idol. I prefer the term iconoclasts. Like, the first time I heard maybe the Sex Pistols was a mind-blowing moment to feel that piss and vinegar coming through the speakers. It was a glorious moment.
It’s kind of funny, the Sex Pistols and God Save the Queen, and now you’re getting the Governor General’s award.
Well, I hope to use it as a platform. Does power come with this award? I’m not sure, but I hope to use it to outline several of the problems we still face as a hopefully progressing nation.
Tell us more about that, because that is actually one of the things that you’re being honoured for, fights for social, gender and racial equality.
Actually, I was radicalized by shows like As It Happens, especially after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. You couldn’t go by a night, I don’t think, [without] another story about it on the CBC, which was news to, I’m sure, 95 per cent of the nation. And it hopefully shocked us out of our reverie as this great democratic and free country, when we were just another empire.
So you want to get your message out. You have the platform now. What’s the key thing you want us to think about today?
Today, the key thing, I think, is the Canadian government should stop taking First Nations to court … and give them fresh water, drinking water, and suitable housing, and to honour the treaties.
Where did this activism, this desire for honesty and equality, come from for you?
From my mother and father.
My dad actually escaped the civil war, the Russian civil war, from the Ukraine. He was actually a settler himself … and they thrived there in their farms, not knowing that they were usurping the land of the Tartars that lived there before them.
They had to escape. And in spite of that, my dad became a small-C Christian socialist. And by the age of six or seven years, he had us stapling together pamphlets for his union. And that’s where I got my first basic education in organizing.
I’m not that big of an organizer, being a punk rocker at first trying to destroy organizations, but I learned a great lesson from my dad, who, in spite of the odds, fought for socialism.
What would your parents think of you getting the Order of Canada?
The music I made was a mystery to my dad, because he was a, you know, a classical churchy kind of musical guy, but I’m sure he’d be very proud at this moment. He’s gone now.
Your path has probably not always been an easy one. The recipe for success for a punk artist is an unusual one. Do you have any regrets, any things you’d like to build on?
How could I regret anything? I mean, this my life. This is what it’s been. I’m doomed to getting not much of a monetary reward. And that’s OK. That’s not the point.
I understand you’ve got a new album coming out. Tell me a little bit about it.
What’s it about? Well, wow. The last four years have been inspiring as far as the president, who shall not be named, letting loose all these racist tropes all over the world and giving fascism new life when it should be destroyed everywhere it’s seen. With fascism uniting with Evangelicals in the United States, the most dangerous combination, and we’ve got to raise our voices to wipe it out.
It’s called Late Stage Empire Dementia — how all empires will eat themselves and destroy themselves. And also about, you know, mass incarceration and genocide, of course, what our own country is built on. And there’s also a song about your Second Amendment gun nuts and basically how to deal with the ignorance and the uneducated masses. I mean, slogans and sloganeering aren’t going to do it. Maybe a song or two will do it.
Obviously, you can’t have the traditional Order of Canada ceremony right now. We hear it’s being delayed until perhaps you can. What would the Art Bergmann in his 20s say if he could see you walk into Rideau Hall and accept this award from the Governor General?
I mean, do I have to wear a penguin suit?
Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Kevin Robertson. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
‘When We Gather’ Collaborative Art Project To Celebrate Historic Inauguration Of Kamala Harris – Forbes
When We Gather is a multi-faceted art project celebrating the history making inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris, directed by Codie Elaine Oliver (Black Love, OWN Network) and performed by renowned artists María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Okwui Okpokwasili, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Dell Marie Hamilton, Jana Harper, Lisa E. Harris and Samita Sinha. The performers have developed a three-minute art film to inspire reflection and celebration on this momentous day in United States history. “When We Gather offers an empowering moment to heal and unite the country through creative energy,” says Campos-Pons, who envisioned the project and brought the artists together. “The circle shows us how we can remain connected even while we are separated due to this pandemic or due to the state of the nation. All of these factors have informed the collaborative choreography and spoken word of this global collective experience.”
Due to the pandemic limitations, performances have been woven together from the performers’ respective locations in Brooklyn, Nashville and Houston. The film stirs up feelings of relief and solidarity through imaginative work, in a time of great divide in the United States. It is narrated by Academy Award-nominated actress Alfre Woodard. The soundscape incorporates both lyrics and a poem written by Diggs for the project and features choreographed movements and gestures from diverse traditions.
The film will be followed by When We Gather: Together, a behind-the-scenes interactive program. It will feature a conversation about the film, interviews with those involved in it, and additional performances. This special program is co-produced and hosted by Dr. Nikki A. Greene, a professor of art history at Wellesley College. When We Gather is produced by an all-female identifying team of artists, scholars and producers. It is a collaborative artwork produced by Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco and Creative Time, a public arts non-profit based in New York.
“When We Gather arrives at an inflection point—serving as both a moment of reflection and a galvanizing call to envision, and enact, a better tomorrow. At this historic moment, the work speaks to the elemental role that women have played in the progress of this nation,” says Justine Ludwig, Executive Director of Creative Time.
Everyone can participate in When We Gather by tuning into the online broadcast at www.whenwegather.art on January 20 at 7 pm EST. The film and When We Gather: Together will be available at www.whenwegather.art and streamed free worldwide from January 20 through February 15, 2021. The film and special will be screened at locations across the country on select dates thereafter.
Artists sought for Five Corners public art project in downtown Chilliwack – BCLocalNews
The City of Chilliwack is looking for artists to submit their ideas for a new piece of public art to be installed at Five Corners.
The city issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the Five Corners Public Art Project on Jan. 11. The future artwork will be situated outside the front entrance of 46115 Yale Rd., located at the northeast corner of the intersection.
“The successful proponent will create and install public art that will add value to the cultural, aesthetic and economic vitality of the downtown core of Chilliwack,” reads the RFP document.
The proposed public art must:
• Fit in a footprint of 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres
• Be no more than 3 metres high
• Must be able to be illuminated
• Installation must be able to stand up to graffiti, natural elements
• Footprint must be secured to ensure the piece’s integrity and public safety
• Not impede traffic (ie must not be reflective)
“The goal of the Five Corners Public Art Installation is to increase foot traffic on the street, animate Chilliwack’s historic downtown and draw attention to Chilliwack as a vital municipality which promotes arts, culture and tourism.”
There will be a mandatory virtual site meeting through Zoom on Friday, Jan. 22 at 8 a.m. Proposals will not be accepted by the city from proponents who do not attend the meeting. (Link to Zoom meeting at end of story.)
Proposals can be submitted electronically (preferred) or as a hard copy. Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 3 p.m.Submissions must include a technical proposal and a financial proposal. Electronic submissions are to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; hard copy proposals are to be delivered to:
RFP – “Five Corners Public Art”
City of Chilliwack
8550 Young Rd.
Chilliwack, B.C. V2P 8A4
CONFIDENTIAL – DO NOT OPEN
The successful proponent will be notified within 30 days of the Feb. 17 closing date.
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com
Public invited to take part in Black History Month art project – Chatham Daily News
The Thames Art Gallery and ARTspace will celebrate Black History Month this February by inviting the community to contribute to an artwork project.
For centuries, people of African descent have confronted and continue to confront prejudice and inequity, the gallery stated, with systemic barriers still preventing full and equal participation in society.
“Almost nine months after George Floyd’s death, the rise of Black Lives Matter, and C-K’s own peaceful march down King Street, we want to keep carrying it forward,” said gallery curator Phil Vanderwall in a release.
“Creativity can help us to confront and overcome our challenges. Art can help us create the world we want to live in and what better way to focus our energies than to join together as a community and participate in a positive vision for 2021?”
“Celebrating Black Lives” is the theme of this digitally based installation. Anyone who wishes to participate can complete a work of art on the theme in any media. Feel free to paint, draw, design, or write.
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