Nadia Buyse: A Cultural Activist with a Symphonic Mentality
The Thumbnail Photo was taken by an amazing Artist named Chris Filippini.
How has 2017 been for the majority of people? Well, I don't know about you, but it feels like the world is falling apart. Yet, Despite the Depressing Government we live in, one movement has given the future a bit of hope.
Cultural Activism has existed for a long time, but kind of died out after the 1970's. Once Regan took office, the country as a whole became very traditional & uptight. Unfortunately, this mindset didn't change until the last 10 Years. The recession of 2008 really made people think about the system we live in, and that has brought a lot of truths in the forefront. A generation finally learned that our Corporate Masters were selfish & didn't care about the common man. The Country learned that Racism was alive & real, even when media made it seem otherwise. And we all found out that we had to continue to fight because we can't blindly rely on anybody (let alone a leader).
Trumps' recent Presidency (rather you like it or not) has only accelerated the Cultural Activism Movement further. Now the average human has more to relate to a Cultural Activist than a leader (a statement that wasn't true 15+ Years Ago). The change (in my opinion) can only bring benefits, as we will finally grow as a species (which, again, we haven't done since the 70's). So where can we see this in Art?
Art and Activism have a long history together. Generally, one helps the other & vice-versa. A Popular (and recent) example is Pussy Riot, a group that brought the Oligarchic Regime of Putin's Russia into the limelight. Yet, most Artists (at least in the United States) try to stay safe & non-political. Politics can turn people away, which is a shame because the term affects everybody. But people would rather escape from the harsh truths than learn from them. And, unfortunately, that mindset still seems to be the norm (despite the rise of Cultural Activism in general). So while groups like Pussy Riot showed us that Art can have meaning in the real world, we'd rather escape from the real world than try to change it.
Now to be fair (despite all of my issues) Hollywood has slowly started to implement Cultural Activism in their works. But an old-city can only bring so much before it feels forced & fake (like it does). So the underground is (again) the only place to find Honest Activism. Or, Activism made by Activists. And nobody in the Experimental Scene is more of an Honest Activist than Nadia Buyse.
Nadia is an Artist who puts her hands into everything. But she is most famous for being in the Arab-Futurist band DUBAIS. The band also mixes a lot of Video/Visual Arts that are also created by Nadia. But her own story is far more intriguing than the band she is associated with, so let's get started.
Nadia grew up in the United States & began to Dance at the Age of 4. Her upbringing was in a Small Town, where she had to stand out in order to gain the necessary recognition she deserved. At 18 she moved to Olympia, Washington, where she was able to show her vision to the world. She started about 30 Bands & made so many Visual Projects that it will make your head spin. But the greatest trait is her Cultural Activist approach. Her work isn't just Creative; it's honest to the human experience. And because of it, everybody can enjoy her work (not just the Underground Scene). Let's dive into her most recent piece AMERICAS.
Now more than any other Video, I want you all to watch this. It's only 22 Minutes Long, so come back if you don't have enough time to look at it. One thing we will all notice is that Nadia's Visual EP is more about the Personal Experience than hitting you over the head with a particular message. You are supposed to watch & feel a common thread with the Visual EP. The Thread (in my opinion) is about growing up in a Country that is supposedly free yet manipulatively controlled. The impact is sheer confusion & trying to find our place in a Chaotic World.
My favorite piece is Part 4: (Titled Millennial Whoop) which goes through the modern day problems with Youtube Culture. It stars another great Artist named Devon Devine (which, unfortunately, I don't have a Link To His Work). The song famously states that MTV raised us and that Pop Culture is our equivalent of an Outback.
The Video reminds me a lot of an Adam Freeland song called "We Want Your Soul" (one of my all-time favorite songs) which puts a lot of commercials together & creates a mess of mind-control. Youtube only multiplies this Mindset. And we now live in a world where the Youth (who could be Activists & Artists) watch endless videos that showcase untalented hacks. The future seems dead, and we aren't doing anything to change it. Instead, let's distract ourselves with Pop Culture nonsense. I for one, am not impressed. But just like the rest of the Visual EP, it's relatable. I'm far from the only 22 Year Old who feels the same way. And because Nadia has no issue with showing this truth, I respect it far more. Millennial Whoop is an excellent example of an Experimental Piece that can be viewed & respected by anybody. I have a singular Video of this piece down below. It isn't as impactful if you haven't seen the AMERICA'S EP in full, but it's worth exploring on its own. Share both if you've enjoyed everything.
Another great piece from the AMERICA'S EP is California. That Title might sound generic, but let's really dive into what California as a State means to America. California is often associated with being the Cultural Hub of America; often ideas take shape here. This isn't always the case, as any idea can be shaped almost everywhere in the United States. But California is so large & diverse that it is almost hard to do it anywhere else. Why try to make Films in the middle of Kansas when you can move to Los Angeles and be surrounded by like-minded people.
Anyway, because California is so important, the youth (or the youth that didn't grow up in California) often see it as a heavenly utopia with no problems. For those who have actually been, this isn't the case (still one of the best states in the U.S. though). Heaven on Earth is not a concept that honestly exists; we are going to face issues regardless of where we run to. But this Video perfectly captures what we must feel when we face the truth. Nadia looks ahead while a Video showcasing Space atop the Pyramids play in the background.
The Pyramid metaphor is obvious, California (Los Angeles Specifically) has a beautiful landscape for those who are rich, while the majority are stuck with the sandy dirt. The word Pyramid Scheme can be associated with California just as much as it can be linked to Ancient Egypt. Not to mention, Pyramids make us look up to the stars, just like the Capitalistic System makes us look up to billionaires & celebrities (a lot of them live in California). So that Metaphor is pretty obvious.
But the Space Metaphor is far more vague & exciting. So I'm just going to give my interpretation & let the reader comment what they might believe down below. At the time of this writing (and I don't imagine the people living 20,000 Years From Now will read this anyways) we have yet to conquer space. It's still a mystical concept to most people, despite Scientific Studies saying it's otherwise. California for Americans is what Space is for the Rest of The World. It's a heavingly utopia that we can't wait to travel to. But just like Space, California isn't heaven. It's quite dangerous despite its beauty. And our worlds can explode at any second. This Video shows us what Nadia might be feeling as she describes her journeys through California. The system is static (the Pyramids), but the Journey can be explosive. We try to reach Heaven, but we find out that Heaven is a lie. And now Nadia (in the video at least) is trying to piece together why she fell for the delusion of peace in America. Calfornia is just a piece of land; Space is just an endless Vaccum of Plasma & Gas. We must create our own Heaven, not let our minds wish for a place that doesn't exist. This is what I got out of the video. Hopefully, if you disagree, you can tell me in the comments. I would love to know what others think.
As I noted above, there is something far more impactful when you intermix Cultural Activism with Experimental Art. While being Experience Driven or Observant is very cool, when an Audience can relate to a piece, it makes the video more Universal. Nadia is an Artist that can get a naysayer over to our side. Her work is Creative, but it also has a larger reason to exist. We want to dissect our feet into each video & try to decipher what the meaning is. Her work doesn't turn people off; it brings people in. And because of this, every underground Artist should celebrate the work of Nadia Buyse. AMERICA'S is brilliant; I sure hope by now that everybody has checked it out (I'm not kidding this time, this entire EP is excellent).
But AMERICA'S is far from the only piece of work Nadia is associated with. So let's dive into an older piece called I'M SHALLOW. The entire Video is in Black & White, which is obviously a metaphor for how we see ourselves in the world. But the more important aspect is how these two colors are implemented throughout. Here we see Nadia consistently look into Mirrors. A Pale White Wall always stares right back at Nadia, meaning the world is blank & empty on the shallower side. In fact, the Film is far more White than it is Black. This shows the level of how our Reflection can make us lose ourselves in the process. The only times that it is Black is when Nadia is surrounded by the World (or, other people). It's kind of the opposite of what you see in most Black & White Films. Black is always a metaphor for the Dark & Evil; While White is always a metaphor for something Bright & Positive. But Nadia takes this false dichotomy & spins it on its head. Now, having a Pure White World will blind you to your own ego. While having some shades of Black will make you more human & see the colors where they might not have existed before. It's a Brilliant Way to create new metaphors using old techniques. Check It Out if you haven't already.
Another Brilliant Short that everybody should check out is ASSHOLE. Though maybe I should explain this Video (and my interpretation) before most of you watch it. From a Distance, it looks like a Stereotypical Music Video (tons of Jump Cuts, Dancing, etc.). But we can decipher the deeper meaning by looking at Nadia herself. In the Majority of the Music-Video, Nadia is seen sitting down while a man is either standing above her or mockingly sitting next to her. The only time she stands up is when she has a dress that reads "BOYS" on it. This shows us that Nadia's character (again, in the video) only listens to men. Next, we look at the five guys in the Video. Each represents a different type of Asshole. One is a Prideful King; another is Buff, another thinks he is too cool, you get the idea. This is important because Nadia's character changes clothing to suit each Asshole. With the King, she dresses in a Snow White Costume. With the Cool Guy, she dresses in sunglasses and kneels to him. But what brings this Video together is how the Asshole Men act when Nadia isn't around. They love each other, and this is the only time we see them dance in the video. Whenever they are with Nadia, they stay still (or move with her). This tells us that these "Assholes" are only this way because of Societal Expectations. Nadia's character isn't happy. The Asshole Men aren't happy. But they feel like they have to be together in order meet some vague source of happiness. But once Nadia & the men split up, this is when the world seems honest.
I had the chance to speak to Nadia about this one Particular Video, and we got a better understanding of her message, and it's quite fascinating. She told me that the Video is a Riff on the Mainstream "Sexy Pool Party" Music Video we see in Pop Videos. For those wise enough not to watch, these Music Videos use females as props. Here she switches the roles up, and the Men & it looks so disturbing. But isn't the way Women look in these "Sexy Pool Party" Music Videos just as disturbing as the way that men look in Assholes? Nadia was even kind enough to give these men personalities (a trait that most women don't have in Music Videos). It really makes you think about how invisibly dangerous Sexism really is.
I won't lie, in the Original Draft of this Article I put the blame on the woman. I thought she was just begging for a relationship that just wasn't there. But after hearing Nadia's take on it, the Video has really given me some cultural insight. These men are the ones who are really to blame for this. We live in a world where Certain Men are allowed to be Assholes, while Women have to act like Props. Well, that is if we don't try to fight the oppression that lurks within our everyday lives. Luckily Powerful & Passionate Women like Nadia can show us the better path, and make it so we never have to live in a Society that accepts such Sexist Attitudes.
And this is why Art can be so useful. We can discuss certain strokes & meanings in each piece. Each discussion can begin a Conversation that can make people talk. And ASSHOLE is an excellent example of a Video that everybody should see & try to dive into. Then discuss it & try to find the deeper meaning. I didn't know the deeper meaning until I spoke to Nadia. Now I want all of you to find the deeper meanings that she didn't even realize.
I can go all day, but I feel like I've shown more than enough work from Nadia. But to bring us back to where we started, Nadia shows us that Activist Work can bring an Art-Form together. A lot of Experimental Artists are hard to examine and aren't understood unless you've been in the scene for a while.
But Nadia is far different. Her work isn't just Universal; it's straight-up Addictive. Nadia has found that middle-ground in the Experimental/Video-Art Community by combining Cool Music with her Video-Work. She is an Artist that has great potential to become something more important to society. By mixing a New-Age Artform with the current Political Movement, Nadia's work can be seen & respected by everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. But certainly a great majority of people who are sick & tired of the current establishment.
AMERICA'S is one of my favorite short films, her other music videos are incredibly inspirational & I'm a fan of DUBAIS for life. If there is one lesson that we should all learn from Nadia, is that we shouldn't be afraid to put our beliefs into our work. I'm so excited to see where Nadia Buyse turns out in the next couple of years. I'm certain she will have the massive audience she so desperately deserves.
Now that Nadia has shown that Cultural Activism can mix with Experimental Art, what are you going to do? She can't be the only one who has issues with our Society, so will you try to make a statement? Will you try to bring up questions? Will you try to use your tools as a way to bring people together? Because if you don't, what are you making Art for?
Nadia Buyse was an incredible person to speak to; I honestly feel honored. Hopefully, this Article will help people discover her work, but regardless of the outcome, it was a pleasure to talk to her.
I also remind everybody that DUBAIS is a band first, so they have a lot of amazing songs over at Bandcamp & Soundcloud. Here you can listen to her music while you do everything else. I couldn't get into the details in the Article, but all of her work is great. Nadia is a dynamic singer with a range that most people only dream of. Check it out & buy if you can.
Remember to follow DUBAIS on Facebook, as they will have tour dates available to the Public. She mainly lives in Europe, so keep that in mind. But I'm also confident that somebody will Record her tour, so make sure to follow the page if you liked this Article.
If you liked the Article, follow me on Facebook. I keep constant updates on there & you will always be notified when a new article is published. I will also be starting a Podcast in Mid-July, so stay tuned to find out more.
If you have any spare change, please Donate down below. Every dollar makes this Blog Possible & the more money I make, the more Artists I can cover. So it's a Win-Win situation for everybody.
And finally, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are an Artist with a Vision worth Celebrating. Remember you must be Unique & Creative (so no Bland Pop Singers Please). I accept applications from ALL ART-FORMS (not just Video), so please hit me up if you would like to set up an Interview.
Thanks so much for Reading My Blog Post on Nadia Buyse. I hope everybody has an Awesome Day. And Remember to support Visionary Talent wherever you see it.