CONNER SINGH VANDERBEEK
ethnomusicologist // media artist
ਬੰਦੇ ਚਸਮ ਦੀਦੰ ਫਨਾਇ ॥ Bande chasm deedn fanaai || (2021)
Simranpreet Anand and Conner Singh VanderBeek
Sculpture and Mixed Media
ਬੰਦੇ ਚਸਮ ਦੀਦੰ ਫਨਾਇ ॥ Bande chasm deedn fanaai ॥ is a body of works comprised of found Sikh textiles and sacred objects. In Sikh practice, objects that come in contact with the Guru Granth Sahib - the sacred scripture that is regarded as a living entity - are considered to be imbued with the Guru’s sacred energy. These objects are cremated at the end of their life cycle through a ritual called agan bhet seva, or an offering to fire performed in a purpose-built structure. Due to the pressures of globalization and the replacement of slow handicrafts with mechanization and mass-production, materials that were historically made of natural materials have been replaced with synthetic, plastic-laden fabrics that off-gas toxic fumes when cremated. This shift has also led to an abundance of Sikh textiles that are given as offerings in gurdwaras. In Canada, excess textiles are stored in warehouses and ceremoniously cremated.The majority of the textiles used in this exhibition were found in a warehouse at a Sikh facility in Canada. The textiles have been taken with permission from the facility director and used in consultation with friends and fellow Sikhs.In the title for this work, Guru Arjun Dev declares that all which humans can see with their eyes will perish (Ang 723). The pieces within all draw inspiration from passages in Gurbani that discuss the spiritual emptiness and material wealth and the transience of the physical body. These passages help illuminate the tensions between the messages of the Gurus and how those ideas have been misinterpreted, ignored, or forgotten in contemporary Sikh material practice.
The Adventures of Himmat Kaur and Fateh Singh is a gripping and hilarious kids book that uses both Punjabi and English to delve into the world of an over-imaginative child. Himmat and her trusty sidekick Fateh are immersed in a cartoon dreamland and her father’s stories help her navigate the different parts of her identity. As Himmat tries to unpack these teachings passed on to her by her father, she finds the courage to combat her playground bullies!
Story by Gavan Cheema, illustrations by Simranpreet Anand, audio engineering and video editing by me.
"ਸਿਰਫ ਉੱਨੀ ਸੌ ਨੱਬਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਬੱਚਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਇਹ ਯਾਦ ਰਹੇਗਾ [laughing in foreign language]" (2021)
Screen capture of Open GL reproduction of Windows XP screen saver The endless, one dimensional, affective investment diasporic Punjabis who grew up in the 90s place in nostalgia (before they realized they were losing their culture, before 9/11, etc.) meets the equally endless propensity of Western subtitlers to get lazy when they come across a language they don't immediately recognize, now in 3D!. Made in collaboration with Simranpreet Anand.
Phulkari (2018) is a show that translates the South Asian textile of the same name into collaborative dance, music, and projected visuals. The show was directed by Kiran Bhumber with Molly Pabersz as choreographer and myself serving as music director and research consultant. The show takes creative, multimodal abstractions of the Punjabi phulkari textile and follows them through lineages of women in rural Punjab, through migration and displacement, into the new meanings that have been built around these threads in diaspora.
Checkpoint Hoogly (2017) is a project led by Sudipta Dawn and Culture Monks. This project examines marginalization, the sub-altern, and the status of refugees through stories revolving around the port of Budge Budge outside Calcutta, and the settlements that have grown alongside the railway leading to it. For the project, Vancouver-based sound artist Kiran Bhumber and I collaborated on an audiovisual installation on the Komagata Maru, a passenger ship of predominately Sikh men that sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1914, was denied entry into Canada, then was fired upon when it eventually docked in Budge Budge.
Featuring a new body of works created by interdisciplinary media artists Nancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber, UNION (2021) is a speculative sci-fi exhibition centred around a narrative of two beings discovering their ancestral memories through the longing for touch and the rituals practiced in their post-apocalyptic wedding ceremony.
I served as arranger, orchestrator, and pianist on the project.
Sphincter Control is an ongoing noise/experimental duo with San Francisco-based blood bank blood dispenser Christopher Gomez. The mission statement of Sphincter Control is to be unwatchable and unlistenable, thus forming an irreverent, lo-fi project committed to obscurity.
Let’s talk about our feelings. (2015-16) is a two-volume project dedicated to the creation an artistic space for people to share their experiences with mental illness and emotional trauma. This project is made of the stories of others, with a few pieces of my own. I have had these texts spoken, and I have composed the backing to them. We are a small community, but I believe the experiences shared in these volumes are not unique to us.
The SPHINCTER CONTROL EXPERIMENTAL VIDEO STUDIO is a side project of experimental/noise duo Sphincter Control, The project is an open platform for Chris and me to experiment with distortions and glitchy manipulations of audio and video, which I then upload to Vimeo and generally do not discuss with anyone.