We must cultivate our garden - curatorial statement for Char Bagh at Club PuSh / by Digital Handloom

Originally published at pushfest.ca.

Over the past five years, artists within the South Asian diaspora have been experimenting with the tools of storytellers – manipulating and reconstructing these forms to make them speak new tongues through digital media, graffiti, hip-hop, and spoken word. Mandeep Sethi, Nisha Sembi and Rupi Kaur are the part this new generation of storytellers who express what it means to be South Asian in 2015; and for the first time ever we will bring their stories from the digital forefront of this new wave to the waterfront of Granville Island, at Club PuSh on Saturday, January 31.

Their tales speak of the immigrant experience, systemic and internal racism, and the effects of class, all framed through the lens of emerging voices. These new perspectives raise questions of home, history, and identity, moving away from the tired “caught between two cultures”, and moving toward seeing these stories as our story. 

San Francisco based emcee Mandeep Sethi will spit socially conscious hip-hop with evocative lyrics pounding to a Punjabi folk beat, while Bay area artist Nisha Sembi will create a live graffiti “response piece” to the performance – visually reinterpreting our communal stories. Sethi and Sembi have previously collaborated on the Word to Your Motherland project in the Bay Area. Closer to home, they have also worked with local First Nations to paint a mural in North Vancouver, drawing upon each respective community’s artistic traditions to forge something new. Complimenting their creative spirit will be Rupi Kaur’s spoken word poetry of love and longing, proudly voicing the language of desire as a natural right. Toronto-based spoken word artist Rupi Kaur’s sensitive voice captures the love that (in)completes and celebrates the beauty of broken English. Sethi, Sembi and Kaur are part of a new form of storytelling and expression whose contours are yet to be determined.

These artists have grown up absorbing and refashioning old technologies and forms of expression into something vibrant. Local artists will have the opportunity to learn from these artists and be inspired to use history, memory, and identity to grow new art forms in Vancouver.

Manjot Bains & Naveen Girn
Digital Handloom

Experience this emerging artistic movement of young South Asians across North America, join us at Club PuSh for Char Bagh on Saturday, January 31. Book Char Bagh on your PuSh Pass, Youth Passport or as a single ticket online.