Real Art, Real Action

    Erik Jepsen/Guardian

    Be forewarned: This Friday, flash-mob dancers and dudes in bizarre costumes might block your daily route to Geisel Library. The Arts in Action Festival is open-air performance to make you look — a daylong event in which students, alumni and faculty will align the fights against prejudice toward blacks, Latinos, women and homosexuals.

    Beginning at 2 p.m., theatrical pieces on the history of the movements will unfold at various locations: the Triton Steps, the 40 Years Legacy Mural at Peterson Hall, the Women’s Center and the LGBT Center. At 3 p.m., participants will move to the Silent Tree before marching to the Mandell Weiss Theatre for an interactive “Opera of Meaning” (bring your laptop or iPhone) and open forum. Followed, of course, by a dance party at 8 p.m.

    “Arts in Action came about because a few of us sat down and said, ‘We believe that this campus needs a place for its artists to respond to the racial emergency and events of last quarter,’” event organizer Heather Ramey said.

    At Mandell Weiss Theatre, a student mural will be collaged with a live mural created by Chicano artist Mario Torero, while a fence you can play like a harp stands by. Full-body knitted masks by Master of Fine Arts student Zac Monday (left, right) will be displayed during the gay-rights performance at the LGBT Center. And, just to make sure we don’t doubt the “multi” in this media, the festival will also feature a series of musical, spoken-word and digitally interactive performances, along with live coverage by SmashTV.

    “I really hope students will attend the event, come with their own questions, keep on working on these questions and keep thinking about the role of art in constructing and deconstructing social identities.” artistic director Jade Power said.

    According to Power, festival organizers drew inspiration from UCSD’s history of radical protest art, which included body bags full of bloody animal parts strewn across Library Walk during the Vietnam War.

    “The performances are to remind students about the power of bodies in action, the links between performance and politics and to highlight the challenges faced and successes achieved via protest throughout history,” Power said.

    Ramey said she realized the importance of documenting UCSD’s charged past during the sit-in at the Chancellor’s Complex in February.

    “The [Black Student Union] alumni association came by and said, ‘You know, we were here before you doing this stuff. You weren’t the first,and you’re not going to be the last.’” Ramey said.

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