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

Day 3 Afternoon – Performance by Nayeon Yang

Posted by Irene Loughlin 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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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Day 3 Visualeyez Morning Session

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 18th, 2014

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Our 10 am meeting started off with quinoa and fruit by Robyn (mmm) and performance art exercises on the patio led by Soufia.  I didn’t document those because that would be, well, either too invasive or too silly.  We mirrored each others’ actions and made some of our own, as well as communicated through nonsensical verbal games. Following this dadaesque a.m. exercise, the conversation circulated around the question of space and its affect on movement.  Unlike Soufia’s methodology which centred on taking the time to walk in Edmonton and respond to her surroundings, Pam Patterson described her process as necessitated by pre-planning because her performance involved creating with two or three participants she had not previously met.  She talked about internally adjusting the plan to the circumstances of her surroundings as she became more familiar with the space in which they would work together in Latitude 53.

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Naeyon reframed space as that which is not necessarily outside ourself, asserting that “our body is the space” as a unit of time, and as a biologically-defined space.  It is from this place she suggests we can explore the concept of space, rather than defaulting to our understanding of space as something geographical, something outside of ourselves.  Todd Janes spoke of transcending a concretized space through the use of smell and sound in performance, and the embodiment of space using our physicality as a kind of psychic extension of our surroundings, an extension often animated through the storytelling that takes place via the viewer, during and after the event.  Performance art can also function as a kind of projection into space, where the performer views themselves and their performative situation from the outside by casting their awareness out into the viewing area – an ‘over there’ throwing of one’s consciousness, a technique which pre ponders the ‘fantasy of reception’.  We briefly spoke about the opposite of expansion via collapsed space, and its underbelly – displacement, as immeasurable (although there was something about a eureka moment in a bathtub), which I imagine are threads that will return later in the week.  Naeyon posed the question “What is the purpose of measuring?” which will be tackled tomorrow.  We finished with Soufia recounting her experience of last night’s performance,  where she guided our evening walk by following ‘where the space opened’ in the urban landscape via traffic lights, empty spaces, and the passage of other walkers. Gavin noted the difference to Capetown, in that Edmonton generally obeys traffic light crossings, whereas Robin contributed her knowledge of the policing of crossing in Edmonton, which we would come to know more intimately following Pam Patterson’s transgression over the threshold of appropriate public space for a body, which is apparently, not in the plaza fountain.

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 Bensaid 

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