I am tempted to tell you we are back again, with our perennial offerings: same time, same place, similar roster of shows. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Consider this year’s Festival. It attests to art as an act of resistance and provocation, as parser of unease and discomfort, as unraveller of taboo. Art as a sleepless testament to what daren’t be spoken of in polite society.
We live in a place that is at once culturally, socially, politically, economically, and environmentally thousands of years old and only a brief few hundred or so. Here, in Vancouver we stand upon the ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. We reside on unceded territories. We live in contested times.
PuSh stands for many things. Not the least, it has to be current, – relevant, in and of the times, contemporary in its true sense. 2017 is Canada’s sesquicentennial. A year of celebration. A year of remembrance and markings. Lest we forget, it’s also a time of reconciliation; a time to honor the claims, – forefront the past injustices and current inequities, – of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. In some sense this is progress. Though perhaps tempered by the fact that no “conciliation” occurred in the first place.
Art opens up a realm of debate, of affirmation, of refuge, of honour, of beauty and shame, of fact, of reclamation, of tenderness, of indignation and revolt. Only art can speak to the highest and lowest extremes of human existence and action. Artists are society’s leaders, showing us the way forward, while illuminating the past, interrogating the present. They are at the centre of the conversation here and now. I invite you to join them