Latitude 53 presents Visualeyez 2017, the seventeenth edition of Canada's annual festival of performance art, from September 26–October 1, exploring the theme of awkwardness

Josh Clendenin: “Folamh”

Posted by Michael Woolley on October 17th, 2017

An array of white notecards covers the floor of the gallery. Hundreds of white rectangles, each seemingly placed with deliberate care, tessellate the room. Something is scrawled on them. Words, I think. I recognize some, but others are mostly unintelligible to me. Three tables, each with a pair of chairs, are arranged near the periphery of the latticework of paper and scribbles. A cohort of viewers observes, standing back along the walls and crowded near the entries.

Josh Clendenin performs “Folamh” at Visualeyez 2017. Photo by Adam Waldron-Blain.

Josh Clendenin walks on his toes, choosing carefully his footsteps between the notes. There is only barely enough space between each for him to balance precariously on the balls of his feet. He takes a step, pauses, and contorts his body to maintain his centre of gravity. Leaning almost impossibly forward and back and to the side, Clendenin scans his domain, searching. He bends down, plucking from the concrete floor a card with a question mark. Flipping it over, he scans what is scrawled on its reverse, and locks eyes with a viewer leaning against the wall.

“What are you afraid of?”

The man appears caught off guard, but quickly comes to an answer.

“Death.”

Clendenin seems to ponder the profundity of this for a moment, before turning again toward his words. He strides amongst them, never fully finding his footing. The artist pauses momentarily, closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath. Picking up another question mark, he addresses another person across the room. The artist’s words fall effortlessly from his lips, but they refuse to take purchase in my own head. He is speaking Irish, I would later come to learn. A knot begins to tie itself in my stomach and he looks expectantly at a women who responds only with wide eyes. He repeats his question, reading again directly from the card. Several intense moments pass, during which I can only imagine that her heart is pounding in her ears at least as loudly as my own is in mine.

Clendenin breaks his expectant gaze, turning again to the words scattered at his feet. His eyes flick back and forth, and he cranes his neck while striding carefully. His toes barely disturb any of the words. He is looking for a specific word this time. Several words. He picks up a card, and another from the opposite side of the room, and several more. Repeating his original question, he gestures and mimes with his whole body, hoping perhaps to transmit something not in the words themselves. And he reads from the new cards in his hand, only single words, but English words. Adding several more words from his floor-lexicon, a recognizable and stilted pidgin translation emerges.

“You like get lost travel nouveu ville?”

“Do I like getting lost when I travel somewhere new?”

He nods and shrugs his shoulders. Close enough.

“I try not to get lost…”

Clendenin addresses each of us watching in this manner, asking questions in English, French, Spanish, and Irish. Sometimes the exchanges are quick, and sometimes several minutes pass before he and his interlocutor find some kind of mutual understanding. What are you passionate about? What’s your favourite movie? Do you like any sports? The artist articulates himself using only the words and phrases he finds on the floor, in addition to bodily gesture.

Josh Clendenin performs “Folamh” at Visualeyez 2017. Photo by Adam Waldron-Blain.

Eventually, a brave soul seats themselves at one of the tables and soon the artist joins them, question-card in hand. Clendenin poses a question in French, and his tablemate responds—in English—after screwing their face up, as though trying to recall distant French lessons. The artist replies in kind, albeit still in French, but without turning to his words on the floor for his vocabulary. They both converse like that, going back and forth from French to English, until Clendenin stands up in search of a new question card to bring to someone else who has sat himself at another table.

At some point, I find myself sitting across from the artist, nervously waiting to find out what question and language he has in store for me. We lock eyes. He speaks slowly, but I am nevertheless unable to understand his words. Sitting here at the table, Clendenin speaks freely, but only in the language of the question card in his hand: Irish. He pantomimes speaking, pats his chest, and points at me. Tell me about your… He stands up and returns with the word in English. Family! I tell him about my sister, and my parents, and my dog, and I ask him about his family. Several minutes later he has taught me the Irish words for mother, father, sibling, and step-sibling. The process is labourious, but the dread which welled up in my throat when I first heard those seemingly unintelligible syllables fades as I begin to enjoy the collaborative process of learning and understanding something new.

Josh Clendenin performs “Folamh” at Visualeyez 2017. Photo by Adam Waldron-Blain.

Clendenin’s performance has various modes of engagement with his audience and it is presented as a puzzle: we are asked to figure out not only how to communicate with the artist but also the rules by which we are able to engage him. The work is strongest in those moments when the artist must literally find the words to express himself, balancing precariously and moving deftly on the balls of his feet. He makes bodily, in a very literal and present way, the grasping feeling of needing to articulate something but not being able to find the words. It resonates viscerally with that momentary feeling of amnesia when the word you need is just on the tip of your tongue—or under the tips of your toes.

Call for participants

Posted by Sam Power on September 22nd, 2017

Julianne Chapple

For Julianne Chapple’s performances (September 27th and September 30th) the artist has requested for individuals to provide books related to topics of art, dance, performance or fiction by a female author to be utilized in her performance. If you are planning on attending either of Julianne’s performances, we strongly encourage you to bring a selection to contribute to the work. All copies of books will be returned to their rightful owner following each performance. Additionally, if you are able to provide living room style furniture for Julianne to use in her performance, please contact us and we can make arrangements for pickup and delivery following the festival.

 

Josh Clendenin

For Josh Clendenin’s performance Folamh, the artist will require a spectator to participate in both editions of his performance. The first performance will be taking place on Thursday September 28th at 3pm and the second on Friday September 29th at 9pm. If you are interested in taking part in Josh’s performance, please email your full name and preferred participation date to program @ latitude53.org.

Confronting awkwardness

Posted by Sam Power on September 21st, 2017

For 17 years the Visualeyez festival has provided space for performance artists to craft and present performances. Just as the act of performance art itself challenges cultural norms, Visualeyez has focused in on a theme that questions our contemporary life. As we looked back at the first Visualeyez the themes of surveillance, voyeurism and the boundaries between our personal and private lives emerged as the themes in the early 2000s. This year the festival focuses on the idea of awkwardness.

Curator Todd Janes writes that as technology has permeated our interactions, they have become highly codified. “If we were to suddenly remove societal perceptions and norms of behaviour then we could examine if there is such a thing as suitable societal interactions. If  not then there might not be such a thing as awkwardness.”

Find the full curatorial statement here.

Save the Date

Posted by Sam Power on August 25th, 2017

The artists have been confirmed and we are hard to work designing the schedule. Save the dates Sept. 26 – Oct. 1 for the 17th annual Visualeyez. And keep your eyes open for upcoming schedule announcements.

CALL to ARTISTS: VISUALEYEZ 2017

Posted by Adam on March 8th, 2017

The 17th annual Visualeyez festival of performance art happens from 17–24 September 2017 in the downtown core of Edmonton, Alberta, exploring on the curatorial theme of AWKWARDNESS.

Visualeyez takes place over a period of eight days and it is required that all invited artists are able to attend for the entire length of the festival. Artists experience the work of other artists; engage in discussion groups, meals and other activities that enhance the work of individual artists and the performance art community/network within Canada and beyond. Please visit visualeyez.org for the past festival information.

Latitude 53 will invite artists to Edmonton to explore issues around the curatorial theme of Awkwardness. Within this theme we are interested in proposals that address issues of social interaction, interpersonal phobias, clumsiness, mis-communication, and social isolation. Visualeyez is seeking submissions that will connect with Edmonton and Alberta residents and have resonance within an international dialogue. The festival pays a CARFAC artist fee, two-way travel and accommodations for all artists.

Proposals should include: a CV; artist statement; a detailed description of the work you wish to present and explore; and support material all sent as individual pdfs. Please also address how your develop, think, and explore your practice. You can include images, video, print or digital documentation of your work or as links, pdf, or image files. Only digital submissions will be accepted.

The deadline for submission is Friday, 19 May 2017, 2300h MST.

Submit proposals by email to: visualeyez@latitude53.org, with “Visualeyez 2017 submission” in the subject line.

Please be courteous of image size and materials that you are sending. Please ensure that attachments total to less than 10MB; if more space is required for time-based or intermedia work please provide a link via DropBox or a hosting service such as Vimeo or Youtube.

Artists shall be contacted by late June regarding the status of their proposals.

For information, please contact visualeyez@latitude53.org.


Visualeyez is joyfully supported in part by Canada Council for the Arts, The City of Edmonton, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The Province of Alberta, the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, and Latitude 53’s members, volunteer and donors.

Situating Kindness: “Let Me Wash This Off Your Hands” by Christine Brault

Posted by Adam on December 29th, 2016

Leila Plouffe

At last year’s Visualeyez festival, the students of University of Alberta professor Natalie Loveless’s Fall 2016 seminar course “Ephemerality and Sustainability in Contemporary Art” (ArtH 456/556) responded to performances at the festival.


Montreal-based artist Christine Brault describes her practice as interdisciplinary and performance based research art creation. Utilizing relational aesthetics via site-specific interventions that rely on people, environments and contexts Brault seeks to “create an intercultural dialogue” through her own performative language which has developed through ongoing poetic and political research. Anchoring itself to Brault’s engaged and feminist practice in facing social inequities and aberrations of today’s world, she uses this language to evoke ritual related relationships to earth, human beings, their languages and transformations.

As I entered Latitude 53 Brault greeted me with a warm handshake and a “hello.” She explained to me loosely what her performance, Let Me Wash This Off Your Hands was going to be: she was simply going to wash people’s hands. We agreed to have a chat after the performance and left Latitude 53 to head to her location, a few short blocks away at Beaver Hills House Park or Amiskwaskahegan on 105th Street and Jasper Avenue. Amiskwaciy or Beaver Hills is Cree for the rolling upland region in Central Alberta, just east of Edmonton; Amiskwaskahegan or Beaver Hills Park is home to The Aboriginal Walk of Honour, and exists as a kind of oasis—the only green space along that section of Jasper Avenue. As Brault describes her work as site-specific and reliant on context, the placement of this piece is no accident and is in fact very important to how the content of this work is read.

Christine Brault performing at Visualeyez 2016. Photo by Jack Bawden.

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On Chun Hua Catherine Dong’s, “To Begin”

Posted by Adam on December 27th, 2016

Jessa Gillespie

At last year’s Visualeyez festival, the students of University of Alberta professor Natalie Loveless’s Fall 2016 seminar course “Ephemerality and Sustainability in Contemporary Art” (ArtH 456/556) responded to performances at the festival.


Catherine Dong sets up her piece, To Begin, by presenting us with a very stark, white room, with three curious sets of objects inside of it. The first, a large rectangle formed from dozens of eggs; the second, a very large, orderly, stack of books in the middle of the rectangle; the third, a small white clock.

Dong enters the room, gracefully steps over the egg barrier and into the rectangle. She quickly glances at the clock and, bending over, reaches for the stack of books. Her fingertips fumble briefly with the edge of the bottom book, she tilts the stack backwards, and they slide into the curvature of her body. Then with a technique reminiscent of a practiced weightlifter, Dong hoists the books up, neatly fitting them under her chin. The books adjust again to her figure, which captures the obvious weight of the stack; she could not manage even one more book. Dong is at her full capacity.

Chun Hua Catherine Dong, photo by Adam Waldron-Blain

As she holds the stack, Dong’s initial passivity fades and is replaced by increasingly ragged breaths, the tantalizingly slow ticking of the clock, and an entire audience holding their breath. This first action lasts close to ten minutes, with every second passing by at a snail’s pace. Then, finally, with an ear-splitting crash, Dong’s muscles give out and the books fall to the floor. The stack falls wonderfully, splaying out all over the rectangle in every direction, displacing eggs, even breaking some—the yolks spilling out, bright yellow contrasting beautifully with the bare concrete floors.

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The building of Language In “Woven woven lost and found”, a performance by Linda Rae Dornan

Posted by Adam on December 22nd, 2016

Deltra Powney

At last year’s Visualeyez festival, the students of University of Alberta professor Natalie Loveless’s Fall 2016 seminar course “Ephemerality and Sustainability in Contemporary Art” (ArtH 456/556) responded to performances at the festival.

Photo by Sandra Der

Upon first meeting Linda Rae Dornan, I get the sense that she is mindful, seeking out a genuine place to connect. We sit at the table where she has already laid out items that she found the day before: pieces of cardboard, some silk flower rose petals, bits and pieces of paper, a pair of plastic glasses that had obviously been run over multiple times and left in the sun to oxidize, the lenses long gone.

Her prized find for that day, however, was a broken ski pole. She found it “just sitting there between two cement pillars. It was as though it was a gift, just for me!” The shaft of the pole is broken in two, a broom-like, splintered wound on one end. This broken pole has lost all its original usability. Stability. Now it seems to want to be transformed into something that sweeps things away. Things that are meant to disappear. How curious, I thought, that everything on the table was, at one point or another, meant to disappear. Ephemerality seems to be a theme in Dornan’s performance: the idea that things are not meant to last in their original form and usage. I wondered how theses items will be used in her performance. What meaning will be given to them?

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Go Easy on Steve, Steve

Posted by Adam on December 20th, 2016

Breanna Thompson

During the 2016 Visualeyez festival, the students of University of Alberta professor Natalie Loveless’s Fall 2016 seminar course “Ephemerality and Sustainability in Contemporary Art” (ArtH 456/556) responded to performances at the festival.

How do we perform kindness? How are things that feel “kind” sometimes really not that kind? Johannes Zits, in his performance Go Easy on Steve, Steve, explores the difference between acts of kindness and what it takes to internalize self-love, and he does this by using performance as a mode of directed discovery (during my interview with him he called it a “focused attention”).

Johannes Zits, photo by Adam Waldron-Blain

The paisleys and florals that sit in a pile under his bare feet, at the foot of his ironing board, waffle between abandon and possibility. These materials are loaded with projected importance as we follow Zits through his ensuing wardrobe transitions. The cottons and polyesters are no more facades to be adorned than they are a rug to stand on while ironing, patiently waiting to be the next costume for self-appraisal. Books lie flagged and highlighted on his desk, full of self-help potential, and a wall of illegible thoughts on paper are spotlighted beside a plinth holding what can only be precious stones, so often categorized as healing.

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I see You, I Recognize You: Linda Rae Dornan, Woven Woven Lost and Found

Posted by Adam on December 16th, 2016

By Daniel Walker

At last year’s Visualeyez festival, the students of University of Alberta professor Natalie Loveless’s Fall 2016 seminar course “Ephemerality and Sustainability in Contemporary Art” (ArtH 456/556) responded to performances at the festival.

Part One: Walks

As we are bundling up for our first of two walks, Linda Dornan tells me that she tries to get outside as often as she can. After all, an attunement to one’s surroundings, just like kindness, is something that is practiced; constantly developed. We are not looking for anything in particular, she tells us as we walk: what we encounter will be left up to chance, and as objects speak to us they will be collected.

On our walk, we chat about our daily lives, academic interests, and hobbies. We talk about Dornan’s artistic practice as something heavily process-oriented, and when the topic turns to sustainability and climate change, Dornan emphasizes the role of education as vital to any movement. Education, and more importantly, collaboration at all levels are what matter. Linda walks with a quiet focus, occasionally dropping out of step when she spots a color she likes in the grass, or a stray shoe in an alleyway.

Dornan’s re-attunement to her surroundings displays a particular kindness to objects normally overlooked and discarded. More than this, these are objects typically seen as a burden, and unpleasant to look at. As I walk with Linda, paying attention to the fascination with which she discovers lost objects, I am struck by the care that she demonstrates, treating these materials as friends and collaborators. Looking for the refuse of city life, picking things up that nobody wants, suggests the generative value of orienting oneself differently to the world; looking at our surroundings differently. An ecological derive, I can only anticipate our next walk together.

The day arrives for our next walk.

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