Major and Minor in Arts and Culture: 2016 events in review

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Black Lives Matter

Through the political, social and active movement, art and culture is produced and creativity encouraged. Poetry, literature and the visual arts created by activists involved in the movement have brought knowledge and connection between communities. Alicia Garza, one of the three black women who pioneered the movement, speaks on the core value and belief behind the collection’s activism:
“I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.
Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

Harry Potter — Cursed Child and Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
2016 gave the fandom some gifts.

Comic-based films
The good, the bad and the ugly — I’ll let you guess where Suicide Squad falls.

The Tragically Hip’s last show.
“Thank you, people, for keeping me pushing and keeping me pushing.”
– Gord Downie.
On Saturday, August 20th, 2016, Kingston was home to Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip’s final show of their final tour.

Pokemon Go
Finally, you can become the trainer you were always destined to be. Not only did Pokemon revitalize the fandom, but it brought people together to play a light-hearted game.

David Bowie’s Black Star
“Something happened on the day he died, Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside, Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried:
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar.” – David Bowie
Released January 8th of 2016, David Bowie’s 25th and final studio album took the world by surprise. The album was dark and foreboding, but retained Bowie’s ever-unique exploration of where you can go with music, art and words.

Rogue One
The story veers away from the established characters and explores other parts of the Star Wars universe; although the film has its place in the series’ order, it reveals itself to be unique. A rivival of the series, and promise by its producers for a long continuation of the new films’ stories, bring the world back for long-time fans and introduces wonders of Star Wars to new.

Beyonce’s Lemonade
“I’m an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.” – Beyonce
In an interview with Elle magazine, Beyonce meditated on some of the themes running through her work in the album. Although a massive, mainstream star, Beyonce uses her power for good and explores intimate thoughts on family, love, power and existing as a black woman.

A new era for television: Netflix
Netflix series get more popular and highlight exciting, new story telling: Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The OA and The Get Down. With the rising popularity of Netflix series, storytelling is expanding rapidly in order to tell interesting, thought-provoking stories in new, accessible ways.

Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight
“I grew up a block away from the apartment in the film. And then some of the voices, and the way people’s skin is always shiny—we told the makeup guy: no powder, we need sheen. But the main thing is the mom character, played by Naomie Harris. The playwright Tarell McCraney wrote the source material, like 40-45 pages, non-linear. It jumped back and forth in time, like halfway between the screen and the stage. And when I read it I immediately thought: this is a film. I did not know Tarell growing up, but we grew up literally a block from each other. We went to the same elementary school, and both his mom and my mom lived through that horrible crack-cocaine addiction. And there isn’t a scene with her that didn’t happen to either myself or Tarell. It’s talking about things that I’ve always wanted to talk about.” – Barry Jenkins on his film Moonlight.

Leonardo DiCaprio gets an Oscar!
And he uses his speech to talk about global warming! After receiving his first Oscar for his role in The Revenant, after being nominated six times in the past 22 years, DiCaprio took the stage to roaring ovation and took the opportunity to bring attention to climate change.

Hamilton, the musical
“I wrote my way out of hell. I wrote my way to revolution. I was louder than the crack in the bell. I wrote Eliza love letters until she fell. I wrote about The Constitution and defended it well. And in the face of ignorance and resistance, I wrote financial systems into existence. And when my prayers to God were met with indifference, I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance.” —Hamilton, “Hurricane”
In a period of political unrest in the United States of America, the musical Hamilton took 2016 by storm to tell a new story.

The blackest black … and then the pinkest pink
The blackest of black pigments was created and artist Anish Kapoor snagged sole rights as the only artist to be allowed to use it. In response, the pinkest pink pigment was created — the creators released the product with the caveat that all are entitled to purchasing the paint except for Kapoor.

Dakota Access Pipeline protest and the work on Chanie Wenjack
More Indigenous art came from and was focused on due political events and cultural events; the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Gord Downie’s “Secret Path” and Joseph Boyden’s “Wenjack”, and further activism for an increased awareness, celebration and creation of Indigenous culture, art and history. Representatives of the movement released a statement for January 2017:
“There are over 1500 people still there between the new Oceti Oyate (The Peoples Camp, formerly Oceti Sakowin) Camp, Sacred Stone Camp, Rosebud Camp, medic and healer camp is still helping people. The highway is still barricaded. There are still close to 500 vets there fluxing in and out as the entire vet plan always entailed. There will be protectors there until DAPL is out.”

The opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
“The museum tells a history that continues to evolve. It documents the presidency of Barack Obama, but artifacts reflecting events like Black Lives Matter protests underscore persistent inequality and police brutality. Visitors will be able to leave their own thoughts at public video booths. After such powerful displays, they can also sit in a space called the Contemplative Court to come to terms with what they have witnessed.”

 

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