The Turning Point project/Under Construction performance (1997-1998)
The Turning Point project was a two-year collaboration of girls and adults to identify and enhance the public voice of teenage girls in Vancouver, British Columbia, particularly in the rapidly constructed downtown area. In preparation, Lacy recruited 30 young women from diverse backgrounds to participate in a two-week workshop where youth were paid to learn introductory theory and practice of public art. These young women then worked with Lacy to design additional workshops, public appearances at community events, media reports, Mendhi-based “hand painting” performances, and to publish a zine to recruit additional participants into the project. These efforts culminated in Under Construction, a public performance staged in a current construction site in downtown Vancouver. Nearly two hundred teenage girls dressed in construction boots, hats, and red t-shirts, talked among themselves on the concrete slab in the center of the building—about parental expectations, alienation from school, sexuality, violence, eating disorders, depression, relationships with other girls, their hopes and dreams. 5000 people attended the event that recognized the visual presence of young women in a public sphere that too often positions them for voyeurism, not activism. Initially, the audience experienced the women’s conversations via a pre-recorded sound broadcast and stood witness to their actions via holes in the construction site’s enclosure fence, along with television relays from inside the building. Then, during the final act, the audience was invited to approach the concrete “stage” where the performers conversed, mixed and poured concrete, and painted each other’s hands, trading the recorded conversations for live ones.
The Turning Point Project was produced by Barbara Clausen, and is the subject of a 50-minute television documentary by Darlene Haber.