Watercolour Drills with Lt Cdr H. Hejazi
Urbanite at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Victoria, BC (participatory installation)
Performance: March 18, 2016
Character Bio: Lieutenant Commander Harold Hejazi (Born 21 February 1989) was the first Canadian awarded the Victoria Tertiary Colour Wheel, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Common-wash forces. His contributions to the Global War on Conceptual Performance earned him a series of honorary ribbons, including a Gold Leaf Medal of Honour and a Performance Service Ribbon. Lt Cdr Hejazi is best known for his abilities in commanding the creative participation of non-artist personnel and mainstream conservative capitalist civilians. Hejazi served in Victoria, BC from 2010–2017, primarily stationed as the senior officer in recruitment and a acting drill sergeant.
Explanation: On March 18, 2016, I led militant watercolour art drills during the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s Urbanite event, which was inspired by the exhibition Water + Pigment + Paper: Experiments in Watercolour from the AGGV Collection that I was animating at the time. For this participatory installation, I drew on the history of war and colonialism that was inherent in the exhibition, which told the history of British watercolour. Thus, I decided to focus on the militant conquest side of colonization.
This participatory installation did not invite participation, it demanded it. In formal military dress, complete with insignia and ribbons of military art campaigns and honourable recognitions, I led the watercolour drills as a strict military officer representative of a fascist dictator. I demanded respect, discipline and compliance. My message was that the “pretty pictures” of the exhibit represented an issue of cultural security that was not to be taken lightly.
The purpose for LCdr commander Hejazi’s appearance at the AGGV was to recruit creative candidates to serve in the local Victoria Royal Community Art Services (RCAS) regiment. I expressed that the arts community was being slowly dismantled by an impending hegemonic state that cared nothing for the arts, and now it was time to accept your medium and duty to serve. Through serving, recruits would be contributing to a new legacy of watercolour that would liberate the commanding British Colonial art historical narrative based on J.M.W. Turner and his contemporaries. These are critical times with governments announcing further cuts towards arts programing, leaving art communities broken and confused. I reinforced the notion that there is an art battle going on all around us, and I am recruiting soldiers for service in a bitter war. People everywhere are being malnourished of art, while few individuals are able to step to the status of artist. Soldiers were desperately needed to re-stitch the fabric of our fragmented arts community due to the surrounding global crisis of artlessness.