John Wood and Paul Harrison, installation view from ‘I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT’, Contemporary Art Gallery, February 12 – April 24, 2016. Photography by SITE Photography

Sameer Farooq | The Silk Road of Pop

The Silk Road of Pop at Burrard Marina

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of hosting artist/filmmaker/designer Sameer Farooq at the Burrard Civic Marina Field House for research in anticipation of a future residency in 2015.

On September 9th we presented his captivating documentary, The Silk Road of Pop (2013) at Burrard Marina common room. Shot in the Xinjiang province of China, the film explores the diverse and vibrant music scenes in Uyghur culture. Ranging from traditional Uyghur music, pop, heavy rock and hip hop, music becomes a platform for Uyghur youth in Xinjiang’s rapidly gentrifying cities via the influx of Han Chinese and industrial mining. ‘

In the words of Farooq:

Music was the perfect arena to explore the experience of Uyghur youth in the distant northwest of China. As a Muslim director I feel a particular compassion to the Uyghur case. After spending over three years living and working in Beijing, I was astounded upon my first visit to Xinjiang. Everything was oddly familiar: music, food, traditions – yet we were still in China. Making this film stems out of my strong desire to represent a diversity of being Muslim. In a broader sense, I recognize that my position as a postcolonial filmmaker has prompted me to develop new ways of dealing with material which speaks from a position of placelessness, critiquing established norms and creating a space within documentary making which is relevant to my experience. I let this position inform my directorial vision of The Silk Road of Pop and see the project as a timely and relevant pursuit.

I was struck by the raw energy of the young musicians and their diverse creative response to life in Xinjiang. After the screening an engaging conversation developed between Farooq and audience members highlighting the difficulties of shooting this type of film in China as well as the history of Xinjiang and Uyghur culture as the origin of Turkish culture. A few audience members of Uyghur decent thanked Farooq for making such an eloquent film giving voice and presence to their culture.

More on Sameer’s research in Vancouver.

– Shaun Dacey