Haruko Okano. Community Participatory Public Art 2

1998 - 2001 High(bridi)Tea Performances High(bridi)Tea Performances, 1998 - 2001
Medium: Organic cultivated mold/fungus and commiercially available materials. Dimensions: 26 place settings varying in arrangement according to the venue. Purpose: An interdisciplinary collaboration about racial/cultural hybridity.
The collaborative performances by Fred Wah and myself combined stories of growing up in Canada. Okano is a cultural hybrid. Wah is a racial hybrid. Our stories are told while serving up racialized words printed on white bread and pouring black tea for 26 members of the public. The performance begins the moment all 26 place settings are occupied. The stories focus on the struggles of assimilation and language. Participants are invited to save their slice of bread, the menu and the waiter’s bill pad.
First mounted during an Artists Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1998) we went on to perform it at the Or Gallery, Vancouver, BC sponsored by the Kootenay School of Writing (1999), at the Nice Cafe, Vancouver, sponsored by the grunt gallery (2000) and then I performed it solo for the Powell Street Festival (2001).

2001 - 2002 Post Expression Series Post Expression Series, 2001 - 2002
Medium: mixed medium Dimensions: varied Purpose: Province wide collaboration based on knowledge of the Canadian postal system requirements.

This collaborative mail art project ran for 1 year 2001/02 involving 7 artists in British Columbia, Canada and was organized by Kathy Pick (Haida Gwaii) and myself. The seven artists: From Haida Gwaii: K. Pick, A. Waldie, S. Davies, M. Bristol. From Vancouver: B. Thomson, H. Okano, S. Bear. All postcards whether collaborative pieces, single cards or sets were sent through Canada Post’s system with the understanding that as long as there was sufficient postage and no return address, the postcard had to be sent on to the recipient regardless of content. This could include 3 dimensional objects, biodegradable materials and repurposed materials. We also knew that inside postal workers would read the message and so we encouraged them to contribute to the discourse. At the end of one year we had sent 104 postcards to each other. The work was exhibited at the Haida Gwaii Museum in Skidegate, Queen Charlotte Islands.

Note: The works in the images were created by Haruko Okano. In-soul-ation was her invitation to the 6 other artists to contribute its’ content.