Posted on September 19th, 2015
If yesterday’s action was analogous to a drawn bow and the resulting arrow, today’s Performing the Trajectory is a meandering pinball bouncing around the urban landscape. The walk to WEM was a single vector of goal-oriented touring, almost a race. Today’s exploration with-and-of the cart follows a myriad of forces bearing down on Julie Laurin and her playful navigation of human bumpers and the borders we put up around us in a public space.
She dances with the cart. She allows the cart to pull her. She bumps it along with her hips, telling onlookers: “Check it out! No hands!” She uses it as a ledge to climb over a black iron fence and investigate a grassy patch that defies the inner city’s concrete mandate. Today she does not wrestle with the cart, but dances with it, evoking grace from a beige metal cage.
And her outfit has changed. Today she wears the standard realtor’s uniform underneath, with a long trench coat that whips in the breeze and calf-high high-heel boots. She is a beige superhero, capering through her patrol, seeking to vanquish boredom, if not crime. A splinter of red socks pokes out from above her boots. A slash of red, a hairline fracture in her mask that allows ingress, but only if you look for it. Today there is no goal, and with that collapse of intention comes the freedom to play.
In following her movement, I follow suit. I let her get away from me as the cart gets away from her. Across the street, on another side of the intersection, around the corner — my heart quickens through the loss of a stable line of sight, then I find her, around the corner from a Rexall, checking out a display of shoes.
“Is that wall strong enough to walk on?” she asks a labourer in orange and mesh, dusty cotton and rubber-capped steel.
“I guess,” he says.
“Can I walk on it?”
“Are you sure?”
The city refuses to play. Traversing the sidewalk is serious business.
She returns to pushing the cart. Her play is drowned, for a moment, by the active ignoring populace who give, at best, a glance. A nod. Around another twisting corner, past the construction zone that merely repairs but does not create the space, she finds a piece of cardboard hanging on a thick, black pillar by a thin piece of tape.
She writes, with a finger dipped in beige paint in yesterday’s water bottle: “Does it hurt?” and a thin runnel of liquid oozes down the porous layers of compressed and corrugated paper, weeping from the H.
Julie perches atop an empty flower box and roots through the dirt.
She’s looking. For someone to play? For a space to wander? For the space to be? After upsetting a handful of clods, she places a piece of paper deep in the dirt. It reads: “who is the wolf now?”
Around the corner, now off the main drag, Julie finds a patch of scraggly scrub grass and a clutch of saplings cut off at the knees. She ponders the stump. She leaves the cart behind, climbs atop the flat, narrow wooden circles, and stands like a statue, or a superhero gazing down at the city below, her coat tails wafting in the chill Albertan breeze. She went on two legs, wore clothes and was a human being, but nevertheless she was in reality a wolf of the Steppes.
The sun tilts through the sky, and after a period of time she descends. The cart tumbles down towards me, and Julie gives me a small red flower that looks like a poppy, but isn’t.
“I think I’m done,” she says.
The difference between days is stark. This contrast reveals an act in unwrapping the ways in which we can move through space, and the choice we often make to do so in such a bland and unwavering way. Julie unpacks the urban space, slicing into deeper and deeper layers of urban ambulatory discontent, discomfort, and discombobulation. Like a sculptor, she carves away the experience to reveal what’s within this concrete habit that we abscond along each and every day.
Her final performance is scheduled for 6:00pm on Sunday. It will be held within Latitude 53.