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Fine Arts project plays on pop culture

by Archives March 20, 2002

A press conference was just one of a series of events that took place last week as members of Concordia’s HITMAKERS 2002 production team engaged in a five day artistic crusade to create and produce a rock group with STAR POWER.
During last Thursday’s press conference, in the Vav gallery, Jen Raso and members of the HITMAKERS production team ran through the exhaustive list of events that went into creating their rock sensation, The VAV.
In addition to holding auditions for the band last Monday; an attitude consultation, songwriting and recording, and a vernissage followed on Tuesday. Wednesday featured a star-savvy hairstyling and make-up session and a professional photo shoot. An autograph signing session proceeded the press conference on Thursday and finally, Friday’s pizza dinner with the winners of the “name the band contest” and proceeding “BLOW OUT ROCK SHOW” marked the end of the five-day event.
Besides recruiting members for the band, the team had to carry out behind-the-scene duties such as designing a poster, producing a contract, manufacturing buttons and silk-screened T-shirts, and mounting the display portion of their art exhibit, which showcased in the VAV Gallery.
In spite of these pressures, Raso said she liked the spontaneity that arose from having to deal with such tight time constraints. “I like the intensity (sparked by putting everything together in such a short period of time) – it’s that intensity which makes it so fun!”
Raso spearheaded the project, which began in its early planning stages last winter. The idea came to her while she was smoking a cigarette outside of the VAV gallery, contemplating a creative way to make use of the space before a Nov. 12, 2001 project submission deadline.
During the press conference, which took place in the “lobby” of the exhibit, Raso stated that the purpose of the project was to play with the idea of pop culture, and to see to what extent art could exist in a business environment.
Surrounded by varying degrees of rock paraphernalia (posters, magazines, videos, dolls, instruments, etc) in what looked like the inside of a teenage boy’s basement suite. “We wanted to explore the idea of originality and genius to determine whether it’s the corporate structure that destroys these elements,” said Raso.
Fellow production team member Ned Schwartz said that the experience gave him insight into the business world, and even commented “I feel totally like a business man after this.” However, Raso concluded that because there was no profit to be made from the event and no power dynamic between members of the band and production team, the experience wasn’t comparable to that in a corporate setting. “There is no genius in what we are doing because it is not reality. We wanted to deflate the grandeur of the spectacle to reveal the human element.”
The project was funded by a grant from the Fine Arts Student’s Association (FASA), eliminating the drive to make profits. Raso said this factor set their pop/rock creation apart from commercial acts by allowing them to concentrate on the performance art and live theatre aspects of the production. “The focus was shifted on the performance element of everyone involved in the project, including the press…you are all part of the theatre because you are participating in it.”
Although Schwarz and Raso told reporters that their project was “a piss-take on pop stars,” Schwarz clarified that they were not trying to be didactic, or to directly criticize the industry. Schwarzs said, “We were just going with it to see what happens.”
Members of the HITMAKERS production team said that their project was a “big joke” meant only to be short-lived entertainment. While Schwarz maintained “The VAV will not live on to tour after this event,” during the last minutes of the press conference he mentioned the possibility of the band playing a reunion show at the end of the semester.
Whatever the case, by the terms of their own Star Contract, the HITMAKERS and The VAV agreed to enter into a “collaboration to produce from raw Blood, Sweat, and Tears, the essence of ROCK.” And, at the big show last Friday night, they did just that.
Approximately 150 people filled the gallery space of the VAV gallery to witness the performance, during which the stage split in half and one of the band members (bass player Beaver) fell into the crack. However, during the whole episode, including a fight between Beaver and fellow band member Steven that ensued, the catchy Indy-pop rock never stopped.
“It was amazing, they just kept playing and taking swings at each other,” said Schwarz.
If you couldn’t participate in the show but still want to sample some of The VAV’s solid rock sounds, you can buy their debut CD I need a nap and a new life at: hitmakers2002@yahoo.ca.

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