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

The Flight of the Animator (2)

Posted by Cian Cruise on September 25th, 2015

My laptop’s charging in the AC stand and my cell phone’s daisy chained to the USB port, both hungry for power after a week of labour. A BBQ pork steamed bao works its way down my gullet. People mill about the airport, wandering from gate to gate, towing children or luggage or time. I just said goodbye to Guadalupe and Luciana, who’re heading back to Van city for the Live Biennale. The other artists have already left, their homes spread across the wide expanse of this nation. My flight’s in an hour or so. All of a sudden the festival’s over, I can feel it in my bones.

Breakfast Symposium - photo by Mathieu Léger

Breakfast Symposium – photo by Mathieu Léger

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First Night in Town

Posted by Cian Cruise on September 16th, 2015

Joan Didion once claimed, “writers are always selling somebody out.” I’m going to attempt to defy that quote as I write about the performances, spaces, and countless intangibles that zing through the air between artist and observer. Technically I’m the latter, but the nature of Visualeyez puts everyone on the same page. Artists, administrators, and miscellaneous hangers-on (which is how I characterize myself) each have a seat at the table and a voice to contribute to the overall festival experience.

Yesterday, six out of eight artists arrived in Edmonton, and there was some confusion among introductions. Steven Girard  initially thought I was a performer, but when he was disabused of the notion he simply said, “Ah. Now we are nine.”

“Maybe eight and a half,” I said.

“No,” he said. “Nine.” (more…)

Day 6 MORNING Research-based Practice

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 22nd, 2014

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Day 6 Morning discussion on research-based practice  Photo: Irene Loughlin

This morning I posed a question as to what was the participants’ association to and understanding of research-based practice in relation to performance art.  Together we generally located the definition of research-based practice within academe, with which the artists present had some kind of relationship.  Some of us are completing our Masters degrees, some are teaching, and some of us went through an undergraduate or an art college program.  We talked about artists buying time in academia where resources and funding may now be found. Nayeon started off the conversation since I had talked with her briefly on this subject the day before.  She contributed that learning and knowing have traditionally been separated, and that it is often assumed that research comes first and is then followed by text.  We were all familiar with such pressures to conform through the structural process of grant or proposal writing.  Such applications largely demand that the artist has worked through the ‘why’ before the ‘what’ of the artistic project being proposed as a kind of intellectual and psychic projection of the studio work that they will produce.  However if we consider artistic studio practice as “the text” (the ‘what’ of creative work, where materiality is made manifest), then we must also acknowledge that creative practices often precede or conjoin with the research-based and theoretical underpinnings of the work.

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Soufia Bensaid  remnant object from performance  – measuring…  Photo: Irene Loughlin

We talked about the supremacy of quantifiable research which can overshadow the text/artwork, altering it and perhaps rendering it less meaningful or impactful.  I thought about the work of art ‘falling into place’ contextually within a socio-political framework, and how this process can happen many years after the work’s creation.  Is it not the same locating a work within an artist’s individual practice?  Some of us felt a resistance therefore, to the concept of research-based practice.  I suggested that research-based practice was perhaps a continuation of conceptualism which had maintained a hold on contemporary art since the 1970’s, and that research-based practice could be viewed as perpetuating a kind of status quo and a resistance of emerging/prior modes of knowledge and future hybrid forms, particularly those emerging theories that produced less concretized, diverse perceptions and understandings, as forms of under-represented ways of knowing.

Pam Patterson has worked with the subject of research-based practice extensively.  She asked us to consider the interstitial spaces (the in-between of theory/research and practice) as primary spaces of investigation.  I thought about a discussion of the work of Janice Gurney in graduate school, where the physically uneven spaces between two-dimensional images offered a pathway through meaning, pointing to a kind of topology of knowing.  We returned to the interstitial in considering Pam’s work, where the arrangements of bricks (in an earlier run through of today’s piece) called to mind a kind of aesthetic topography, an aerial view of what pockets of exclusion might be made visible through the methodologies of movement and the installaction work produced during performance in the gallery.

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Pam Patterson – Brick – formation through installaction  Photo: Irene Loughlin

For Marie-Claude Gendron who joined us last night, research work is synthesized through action, and we must learn to talk about the work.  What could motivate us primarily to learn to apply language to performance art in relation to experiences which are often ‘unspeakable’ (or those experiences that feel diminished through speech)? Marie-Claude suggests an answer: The motivation ‘to speak to/about the performance art work’ exists in the opportunity that opens for others who can then offer their responses through language.  We will therefore be able to engage in meaningful and previously unimagined exchanges.

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During her performance, Marie-Claude Gendron asks police officers, “What is public space then and what belongs to the city?  Can I climb a tree, pick up a rock?”  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Pam put forward that we could question our assumptions about research as manifested primarily by ‘talking’ and ‘writing about’.  She suggested that artists can play a new and integral role in academe by pushing what we understand research to actually be, and agreed with Marie-Claude that action is a valid mode of research.  In her presentation yesterday at the University of Alberta, Pam talked about the parallel practices of art and research working in tandem.  She added that as artists, if we are trying to change the way research is understood we must first articulate this change and that this in itself is a difficult task, as we are pushing against the weight of history.  Beau suggested that artists are also a relatively new presence in the academy, where we are often challenged to quantify the abstract, and to measure the worth of art in an era of an increasingly pressurized and conforming neo-liberal society. We agreed that to resist requires integrity.

Dwight Conquergood, Buzz Kershaw and Delueze and Guattari were cited by Gavin as theorists who have resisted such pressures and have narrowed the divide between research and artistic practice in a way that values the qualities of creative work.  He demonstrated snippets of these theorists sculpted language from whom we might take heart and inspiration, by quoting  ‘the rhizoidal approach’, ‘the plane of immanence’, and ‘the body without organs’.  A very full discussion, in which ‘talking about’ research-based artistic practice prepared me for the bodily experience of such concepts in Pam Patterson’s afternoon performance Brick.

 

Sneak Preview

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 17th, 2014

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The Visualeyez table Images by Irene Loughlin

Incredible! The sun and heat.  I should have left my winter coat at home!  This morning after being pummelled in an early morning session of deep tissue work (and when they say that in Edmonton, they mean business)  I wove down 106th St wondering what would happen today to amaze me.  Visualeyez participants met for the first time around a table at Latitude 53 over mid-morning breakfast, thanks to Robyn O’Brien (Latitude Admin Coordinator) the self-described ‘creepy ghost making toast’!   We were also joined by Latitude 53 creatives Karen, Emily and Olivia.

The artists spoke on some of the predicted themes of Visualeyez in relation to movement. Naeyon Yang beautifully articulated her thoughts on scent, which will play a central role in her upcoming work.  There is no certain archive in which to hold scent; she therefore proposed that we consider memory as an anchor, a metaphorical container which addresses the problem of scent’s temporality.   Todd Janes recounted crossing paths with a coyote last night on his way back from the airport with Naeyon, and reflected on the panicked responses to coyote sightings and the urge to enclose wildlife via environmental colonization and urban sprawl.  I posed the question of intentional space in performance and how choosing space affects the artist’s movement in their work.

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                                               Adam Waldron-Blain and Soufia Bensaid location scouting   

In the afternoon, we scouted for locations and Adam spoke with a reporter about the festival.  Soufia Bensaid continued to familiarize herself today with the city of Edmonton. I received a cryptic text message at 8:30 pm to join her at Latitude 53 at 9 pm, where I found her sitting quietly on a bench in the front patio area.   Awkwardly crossing the barely discernible line between public space and performative space, I sat down beside her and assumed her meditative pose.   Todd Janes and Gavin Krastin noisily drove up and stumbled out of the van, yet Soufia’s concentration remained unbroken.  They were also compelled to sit with her.  I thought about Soufia’s different way of hearing, and her contributions regarding experiences of the auditory as we sat with her in silence. Earlier in the day I had noticed how some abrupt sounds made her jump while other sounds were barely discernible to her.  I heard people come and go, the traffic, an ambulance.

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Soufia eventually handed us flashing LED lights and led us in a walk.  Waiting for us to catch up with her near the Days In, she did not hear a car pull up behind her waiting to turn into the parking lot.  She held her ground peacefully and made eye contact with the driver, much like the coyote Todd encountered in his headlights an evening earlier. The driver became impatient and irritated while she stood unmoving and we stopped and started, negotiating the awkward and invisible boundary in the hierarchy of driver/pedestrian.

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Edmonton or Venice.. 

Soufia’s walk revealed a romanticism about Edmonton I didn’t know existed – historic buildings reflected in the water, people dancing by the water fountain.  I felt confused as I walked around the edge of the fountain.  Later we confronted traffic at a busy intersection, singing childhood songs, and screaming as loud as we could, our voices lost in the acceleration of the vehicles.

photo-3                               Observing oncoming traffic (l to r) Todd Janes, Soufia Bensaid, Gavin Krastin 

Welcome to Visualeyez!

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 16th, 2014

I arrived in Edmonton last night, armed with iPad, laptop and phone, happy to be the Visualeyez blogger and eager to begin documenting the cultural life of the city.  Here is my first victim.

common edmonton hare

the common Edmonton hare

If you find a solitary baby hare in Edmonton, do not pick it up.  If you do, you are a KIDNAPPER. (more…)