Tag Archives: Arts

Art and Social Justice

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 3.08.15 PMAs a creator and consumer of the arts, I recently took a trip to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis with a friend to see some new exhibits. It’s been awhile since I visited a museum and was pleased to see so much variety in the exhibits and art disciplines, which led to my friend and I having a casual conversation about the age-old question, “What is art?”

People have been asking this question for hundreds of years. And despite the fact that the definition can be narrower or broader depending on the respondent, today there are multitudes of artistic disciplines: some are carryovers from our ancient past, such as pottery and painting, and others are newer forms like electronic music and digital video.

Following the trip to the Walker, I went online to see how others are defining the term “art”, and I came across a recent blog on Huffington Post, where the author examines the meaning of “art” from the perspective of various people.

One of the responses that caught my attention was by theater director, Ana Mendelson. In the blog she states:

To me, Art is at its core inclusive. It’s inclusive in form, topic, and, hopefully, in creators and audience. Because art can be anything we want it to be, be about anything we want it to be, and be done for and by anyone, arts at its highest form brings people together and helps us reflect on our own humanity. Through art we can honor what makes us unique and celebrate what makes us all one.

Similar to Ms. Mendelson’s definition, I also see the value art has in bringing people together and its power to positively transform communities.  This definition had me thinking deeper about the question of art, and my current work of leveraging arts for better social equity.

Social justice and equity are not new concepts and have been around since the days of Plato. We generally think of social justice as a fair and equal relationship among members of a community or society. To learn more about social justice and equity, a simple history and explanation of “social justice” is provided in a blog post by The Pachamama Alliance – an organization whose mission is to reach out to the public and inform them of these social inequality issues that plague the globe.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 3.59.49 PMAs a professional filmmaker, media producer, and artist, I have evolved my skills to adapt them for social good and today I apply them in a non-profit setting to help under-served communities and disadvantaged community members. Many of my organization’s programs and projects focus on social justice issues: health equity, arts and cultural access, educational equity, equitable community development, etc. However, our unique methodology is to think about and develop solutions through the arts and culture.

For example, we recently worked on a project with the Minnesota Department of Health and its Center for Health Equity to document and share health equity stories from around the state.  We used storytelling, video production and other art skills to accomplish this work.  One of goals of the project was to help state and community health worker work towards better health equity outcomes. The use of art tools was a successful strategy to engage more people and policies around health equity in Minnesota.

So how to I define art today?

For me, art has always been is a useful tool: a tool for communication, reflection, entertainment, and promotion. But today, I also include art as a tool and vehicle to address and solve social equity issues in our community, which is a way of thinking about art that has expanded my definition of the word.

How do you define art today?

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A comparison on zombie movies – ([REC] vs Quarantine)

[REC] Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAnbWCjmOkA

Quarantine Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoBh5S_aWwk

Sets:
The sets from both films are practically identical. So there’s no noticeable differences/effects there.

Scare factor:
This is a rather subjective topic, though both films do a good job of making the viewer much more involved than the stereotypical horror films we’re so used to. Now you could say seeing Rec prior to Quarantine may have made it seem less scary one might experience while watching Quarantine, but the same can be said for the reverse scenario. Though Quarantine has added a few new scares to the mix. Another thing people seem to be constantly complaining about in Quarantine is the final “infected creature” wasn’t nearly as intimidating as the girl in Rec. But how they shoot that final ten minutes still has everyone’s heart pounding.

Gore:
Neither movie is tame when it comes to the graphic factor, but Quarantine is definitely more extreme. With the camera man mauling a zombie, and witnessing a dog in the elevator succumb to the same fate. The effects in both films are amazing, but if you’re simply  looking for bloodshed Quarantine spills  gallons more.

Characters:
First major difference: In Rec the cameraman never makes an appearance, where as in Quarantine the cameraman is seen at least partially multiple times. In both films, the relationship between the reporter (Angela) and the cameraman (Pablo/Scott) is very established. So in Quarantine the relationship isn’t soured the least bit by having Scott on screen from time to time as so many people say it does. In fact, one could say it adds more depth to their relationship.

Second: The two main firefighters (Manu and Alex in Rec, Jake and Fletcher in Quarantine) are quite different between the two films. In Rec, we are meet them and liking them is a given. But we’re not supposed to feel much sympathy for them. Where as in Quarantine gives us more face time with the two at the beginning at the fire station so we feel more of a loss when they’re taken out of the picture.

Third: The reporter (Angela) is somewhat likable in both films, but in Rec she has a bitchier, more career-oriented attitude. Where as in Quarantine, Angela is younger, less seasoned, and overall a nicer person. Both can characters play the lead role quite well, but Quarantine’s Angela seems to feel the impact of the situation and has a genuine fear. As shown in the scenes displaying her mental breakdown. Neither portrayal is better than the other, they are just two slightly different Angela’s.

Fourth: The residents differ slightly, but does it matter? Everyone dies in the end anyways! However in Quarantine the residents do play a larger role as the group slowly gets picked off.

Story:
From shot to shot, there isn’t much variation between the two films– but there are a few things one would notice on a second or third viewing. Such as added scenes and dialogue at the fire station in Quarantine to make us identify with the main group of characters further. There is also more creature set-pieces in Quarantine, to be more specific the old lady watching television scene, and the “infected” dog in the elevator scenes. One big change between the two is the origin of the infection. Which one is better is something you must decide for yourself.  Personally I lean in Rec’s because it’s the original. When viewing Quarantine be on the watch for the extra scenes as really do add that extra impact when it comes to character depth and relation.

Now on to the real question.
(Since you most likely just scrolled all the way through looking for a snip-it to reply /post your opinion on.)

Which film do you think was better, scared you more, or was more realistic? If you’ve seen both that is. Also how did you feel about Rec 2 and Quarantine 2?