Norma is an arts collective I’ve been working with since 2002. We did Brawl for a series of performances called Bright Lights. The works were all performed during the Olympics and Paralympic Games here in Vancouver, and all within the Downtown Eastside, a pivotal neighbourhood in the city’s history. This work was curated by Melanie O’Brian and presented through Artspeak Gallery.

The performance took place on Andy Livingston Field, a large soccer pitch within a few blocks of some of the major Olympics venues and pavilions, and the neighbourhoods of Chinatown, the Downtown Eastside, and Strathcona. The work took texts and gestures from a variety of sources, among them riots and protests from Vancouver’s history [the Free Speech Riots (1909/ 1911), the Anti-Asian Riot (1907), Unemployment Riot (1935) and the Canucks Riot (1994)], sports events, films and pop culture references (including Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s on First” routine). Loosely the work was about riots, spectacle, sport and the breakdown of communication, but most specifically it played to the mixed uses, communities and histories that overlapped at this particular venue and cultural moment.

We also produced an edition of “team” scarves that were distributed for free to all spectators. One read “Who’s on First?/ Yes.” and the other “We’re number two/ Who the fuck are you?” (a chant from the 1994 Canucks Hockey Riot).

All photo documentation is by Blaine Campbell.

Video documentation is coming soon.

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