Posted on September 18th, 2014
Nayeon Yang began her performance quietly behind the cenotaph in Churchill Square, where she unpacked a suitcase containing a large ceramic pot, bottles of blueberry juice, bottles of soya sauce, black bean sauce, water and cider vinegar. She later relayed that she wanted to use materials from her home in Korea as well as something Canadian. (Nayeon Yang Photo: Irene Loughlin)
Nayeon laid down a white cloth on the bench and placed the pot in the centre of the cloth. She then proceeded to pour the contents of all the bottles into it. She chose a pot used commonly for fermentation which subsequently heightened the scent of the liquids. She then pulled on the cloth, transforming it into a long skirt. Wearing all white, she placed a woven ring on her head and balanced the half full vase there. Some of the contents spilled and began a stain down the centre of her clothing in the front and back, which would become more pronounced over the course of the performance. She asked Soufia to continue pouring the juice into the vase until it was full. (Nayeon Yang Photo: Irene Loughlin)
Slowly Nayeon stood up from her seated position and proceeded to walk around Churchill Square for approximately forty-five minutes. Nayeon mentioned that historically Korean women carried water, food etc. on their head, and she wanted to use this action in her work as a signifier of a ritualistic activity existing outside of Western culture in the performance. (Nayeon Yang Photo: Irene Loughlin)
As she walked through the square, the scent of the liquids of her container mixed with the strong smells of the hotdog stand. We passed a Thai food truck, and the surreal subtext of a group of women practicing aerobics while music blared from loudspeakers. As Nayeon walked slowly around the public square, Adam from Latitude 53 passed out a postcard for viewers to fill in and mail off, as shown below: (Postcard by Nayeon Yang Photo: Irene Loughlin)
Some curious viewers came close to the artist and were able to catch the scent emanating from the pot. Others viewed from a distance with curiosity. In a few conversations I had with viewers, one woman reported that the action looked painful and upon further reflection she stated that perhaps it was her guilt that caused her to read the image that way. Several people asked about the festival and about the nature of performance art.
Nayeon continued to investigate space, tracing a pathway down the centre of her body with the liquids as well as with her body as it moved through the public square. Her concentration and the pace of her work were exquisitely timed and it appeared that she drifted effortlessly through space. (Nayeon Yang, Churchill Square Edmonton Photo: Irene Loughlin)
Nayeon finished her work back near the public fountain, at which time Pam Patterson felt compelled to respond to Nayeon’s work. Using three bricks which would serve as a motif for her performance later in the week, she placed them at the threshold of the public fountain. She threw two bricks into the pool of water and carried one in on her head. Wearing only a bright blue piece of plastic, she submerged in the water, walking the bricks with her hands while horizontally floating across the fountain floor. An image that was both weightless and heavy, the contrast of the water’s transparency against the weight of the bricks and the complimentary colours of the materials created a striking image in the sunlight. Unfortunately the police then arrived and the performance ended. (Pam Patterson, Churchill Square Photo: Irene Loughlin)