A Socially-engaged art project proposed by Yujie Gao
This socially-engaged art project is trying to involve the community of ESL students at the University of Regina. The participants will have around three hours (give or take) to explore the city of Regina on their own. They can choose any type of transportation – be it walking or taking the bus, and they can change to different transportation modes at anytime. The only rule of this whole process is always trying the unfamiliar road, uncertain way, and the unknown destination – so, a place they have never been nor do they know where they will end up.
One of the goals of the project is to become lost in the city where one is living and to be aware of moments of intuition. The participants will be asked to capture pictures, record videos or audio about their findings or moments that are reminiscent of their memories. Basically, they can do anything they want in the whole process, they can stop at any place, stay as long as they like, then they end the whole process. All the pictures, videos and audio will be collected and will be shown in two ways. One is a small exhibition set up in the hallway of the Language Institution building where ESL classes are taken. The other way is submitted to an online-based art platform named “Screen Room” where one can sell, buy and exhibit digital artworks. There might be money from those works, and all the money will be given to the participants (but they won’t know about this step).
Project Goals and mutual benefits
The most direct goal of this project is to use an artistic perspective to help participants smoothly navigate the transformative period during relocation and discovering a new self-identity. This is accomplished through an exploration of the city space and by building one’s own memories and connections with this city. Second, by showing the project outcomes, pictures, videos, and audio I hope to encourage ESL students to actively explore the city in which they live, to be not afraid to get lost, embrace the panic of the journey to finding oneself in a new place. Third, I believe there will be indirect ripple-effect to the wider community as the participants will be assisted in their transformation.
A description of community/public
When I started thinking about this project, it pushed me in thinking what kind of responsibility do I have in society. For now, the ESL community is the one with which I have the deepest connection. I had eight months of the learning experience in the ESL program at the University of Regina, from January to August in 2018. For ESL students, the program is usually the first step they take when they start living in a new country. Through Getting Lost in All Destinations, I hope to discover my responsibility in this community.
ESL community will be the participants in this project. Some of the people within this community may take weeks to adjust to a new lifestyle; some could take half a year or even more. This project is trying to encourage these new immigrants to create their own special connection with this city and culture. When they first arrive at this brand-new environment everything is new. This is a good time to be open-minded about one’s new life. Getting lost is the whole idea about this project, in the process of losing yourself in the environment.