Tonight (Friday, February 24, 2012) is the opening of the exhibition Beat Nation: Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture at the prestigious Vancouver Art Gallery. The exhibition grew out of a smaller on-line exhibition project in 2008. While I was at Grunt Gallery, I picked up the 2008 Beat Nation (paper) catalog pictured above. The project grew to include 27 indigenous artists for its incarnation at VAG.
Want to do some homework on indigenous music, skate culture, and street art? The website http://www.beatnation.org/ is a great web-based resource about the significance of youth indigenous culture. Glenn Alteen introduced the concept of the project very succinctly: “This site focuses on the development of hip hop culture within Aboriginal youth communities and its influence on cultural production.
There has been some criticism over the years by older community members who see this influence as a break from tradition and the movement of the culture towards a pop-based mainstream assimilation. But in Beat Nation we see just the opposite happening. These artists are not turning away from the traditions as much as searching for new ways into them. Hip hop is giving youth new tools to rediscover First Nations culture. What is most striking about this work is how much of it embraces the traditional within its development.”
It’s worth making a close perusal of the http://www.beatnation.org/ website before attending the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s clear the artists are ready for a wide audience. It’s time for the public to be ready for these artists, musicians, and athletes who are making “pop” culture into meaningful cultural practice.
Are you ready?