Maïko Le Lay
On June 28, I had the opportunity to present the first performance project called Home Street Home at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) at Cal State Fullerton.
Home Street Home is a 4D project that aims to raise awareness on issues related to sustainability experienced by UC students such as food and housing insecurity, mental health, difficulties for international students, and the lack of creative and work space. The project suggests that it is possible to mix art activism with sustainability and issues relating to student life. Inspired by UC survivors’ stories, Home Street Home depicts the struggles of a student living in his car by combining hip hop dance, video projection, beatbox, and text. This 4D hip-hop project presents the idea that students matter in an embodied and multidisciplinary way.
The Origins of the Project:
Collab’ Home Street Home is composed of artistic designer Jungwon Ahn from Korea, entertainer and educator John Merchant (aka Faahz) from Pomona, and myself (an international student at UCR). This project came to life when I first attended a UC Student Association (UCSA) meeting as a GSA campus organizing director in March 2016. Coming from France and Japan, I was new to American student governance, but I was immediately affected by the issues raised by the UCSA board. As a PhD student in Critical Dance Studies, former event organizer and street performer, I decided to become a student advocate utilizing my area of expertise: dance. Home Street Home was made possible by the talent and contribution of Ahn and Merchant, as well as the support of the Office of Sustainability at UCR. The latter, inspired by Collab’ Home Street Home’s vision, decided to grant me with the 2016-17 Carbon Neutral Initiative Fellowship to develop interdisciplinary projects, such as Home Street Home, and help promote sustainability in a unique way.
Home Street Home is not only a performance. Collab’ Home Street Home realizes that issues of student life and health need to be communicated broadly for change to happen. While having an attentive audience eager to know more about sustainability (such as at CHESC) is ideal, advocacy can happen anywhere. Collab’ Home Street Home jumped on the opportunities and created various forms of the same project to be adapted in different settings. For example, Collab’ Home Street Home was invited during Earth Day to the UCR Community Garden. The artists improvised in the garden guiding people through the outdoor exhibition of Ahn’s cars drawings.
Engaging the audience:
It is important for Collab’ Home Street Home’s artists to share their experience with others through active participation. For example, at the end of the performance at CHESC, audience members were invited to pick a “trash” item from the performance décor, and paste it on the chart, or to write something about their experience. This simple gesture represents community action and recycling because they produce new artwork from the old.
Collab’ Home Street Home’s goal is to encourage more and more student activists to create interdisciplinary projects and advocate differently because its artists are convinced that art touches people and can change the world. Finally, the Collab’ hopes that institutions will also be more welcoming of such projects and support art activism initiatives. For more information on Collab’ Home Street Home, like their facebook page
Maïko Le Lay is a French and Japanese PhD student in Critical Dance Studies at the University of California Riverside. She currently acts as the Graduate Student Association Executive Vice President, and is the recipient of the Gluck and the Carbon Neutral Initiative Fellowships. Le Lay holds a M.A in Cultural Studies from the University Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle (France) and a M.A in Political Sciences from the University Catholic of Louvain (Belgium). In Europe, she was Maurice Bejart’s conservatory and museum’s general coordinator, involved in the Hip-Hop Dance community, and served as the co-founder of Crystal’Art association that denounced social injustices through dance, music and video. Le Lay is interested in student governance and sustainability. Her research focuses on the quest of happiness in the sharing society, and the impact of hip hop dance and culture in education.