We were thrilled when Vancouver-based bike activist RedSara agreed to come on board for Brief Encounters 20—and now that she’s told us what she and her collaborator (new media artist Liz Solo) are cooking up for the show, we’re doubly thrilled (hint: watch for bicycles, projections, and rocking out). Below, the busy multimedia performer, artist, and founding member of the bicycle-inspired performance collective B:C:Clettes talks about bike activism, the art of collaboration, and more.
Q: Tell me about your work. What does it mean to be a bike activist? What’s your artistic passion?
REDSARA: I’m a bike activist, and I’m an artist, so I often call myself a bike artist. As a bike activist, I promote cycling, and that has happened over the last ten years in many different forms. One thing that people might be familiar with is Critical Mass, which for some has a bad rap and for others is an eye-opening experience of freedom.
My activism has shifted from righteousness and more into what I call a “zen master flow rider” approach. Now I lead by example. I share my skills and knowledge as an educator, and I also curate bike rides. I bring people together for rides that are a little bit quirky. That’s my art practice: helping people connect with each other without doing a lot of harm to the world around them. I have this hope that my work will inspire change.
Q: What did you say when you were first asked to participate in Brief Encounters?
REDSARA: Flick [Harrison] pulled me in. I know him through bike activism. I was honoured to be asked and I recognized a fabulous opportunity but I honestly had to take some time to think about it to see if I could bring my full commitment. For me it’s really important that I do what I say I’m going to do, so I took some time to think about it before I said yes.
Q: Tell me about your Brief Encounters collaborator. Without giving too much away, what can Brief Encounters 20 audiences expect from this collaboration?
REDSARA: We’ve both taken our own names: she’s Liz Solo. I’m RedSara. That’s an interesting similarity between the two of us. Liz is also an activist artist so we have been surprised to discover the similarities between our ideologies, and specifically how our art is an amplification of our activist spirit. We’re both used to collaborating and working in collectives, and as Liz said, we are work horses. We contemplate taking a day off, and we’re like, “forget it, let’s work.” We’re working as hard as we can.
I know there are different kinds of brief encounters. There’s one kind where you meet when you can and a lot comes together on the fly. We’re at the other end of the spectrum. We came together on the first day having both researched each other and ready to work and connect.
We’re creating a story of freedom. There’s going to be some rocking out on electric guitar, and there’s going to be a mysterious naming ceremony where the audience chooses their own name. There will be some bicycles. There will be some projections, and there will be characters who will make you laugh and make you cry.
Q: What advice do you have for artists who participate in future Brief Encounters?
REDSARA: Have courage and confidence in your work. Collaboration requires openness, and this is an opportunity to question your own personal approach. And it’s a really rich opportunity, especially to work with other artists who are in different disciplines. The spirit of professionalism in this collaboration is exhilarating.