Press Release April 2016
Mass Games: Nation-building Spectacles in Postcolonial Guyana and North Korea
April 15–June 24, 2016
University of Alberta Rutherford Library South Atrium
90 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6G 2J4
In April 2015, two researchers from Canada doing research in Georgetown, Guyana, re-discovered numerous photos, artists’ drawings, scrap books, and other visual materials that had been stored for more than 30 years in dusty wooden cabinets at a sub-divisional office of the Ministry of Education. These materials relate to a relatively unknown art and cultural exchange between Guyana–a country located in the Amazon basin that, at the time, had a socialist regime–and North Korea, involving the staging of what are known as mass games, spectacular multimedia performances played out by three thousand students, visual artists, dancers, and musicians.
This spectacle was initiated through a collaboration between artists from Guyana and, surprisingly, North Korea, who were invited to launch the inaugural Guyanese mass games in 1980. The mass games were staged annually as a celebration of the national day of the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana and of independence day (both occurring on February 23), until 1992, when a neoliberal government replaced the socialist regime.
Curated by Vicki Sung-yeon Kwon, a PhD student in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Alberta, the exhibition Mass Games: Nation-building Spectacles in Postcolonial Guyana and North Korea displays rare visual materials created by artists during a decade of transnational artistic and cultural exchange between two postcolonial socialist regimes. The exhibition also features interview clips and a documentary film by Moe Taylor, a documentary filmmaker and PhD student in the history department at the University of British Columbia. University of Alberta MFA candidates Heather Leier and T. J. McLachlan and a MDes candidate Travis Holmes helped to present the archive in creative ways.
Exhibition Team and Symposium Participants
Dr. M. Elizabeth (Betsy) Boone, Travis Holmes, Ange Kindrachuk, Won Seok Koh,
Vicki Sung-yeon Kwon, Heather Leier, Jin Li, Yi Li, T. J. McLachlan, Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea, Flourine Tang, and Moe Taylor
Please join us for the opening reception, on Friday, April 15, 2016, 5–7pm, and for a one-day symposium, on Thursday, June 16, 2016 (time TBA).
The exhibition and symposium are generously hosted by the University of Alberta Libraries and sponsored by the University of Alberta Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, the Arts Resource Centre of the Faculty of the Arts, the University of Guyana, the Unit of Allied Arts of the Ministry of Education in Guyana, and the Asia Culture Centre in the Republic of Korea.