Latitude 53 presents Visualeyez 2016, the sixteenth edition of Canada's annual festival of performance art, from September 19–24, exploring the theme of Kindness

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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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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Kalyna Somchynsky on Alexandria Inkster

Posted by Adam on December 14th, 2016

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.

I walk east along Jasper Avenue on a brisk, windy September afternoon. It is September 23, 2016. As I approach the entrance to Commerce Place, abuzz with people from all walks of life, I see Alexandria Inkster dressed in white, seated at a small, wooden table across from a young woman. They are folding a piece of white paper together. The woman smiles as she sees me approach to take a seat on the concrete benches lining the building to watch. They have folded the paper into a long strip. Inkster folds one end. The woman mimics her. The paper unravels. Inkster keeps folding, but the girl appears to become confused as her fold won't stay in place. She keeps looking over at me and smiling, as if unsure of how to continue the exercise. Once frustrated, she asks if I would like to have a try, appearing reluctant to leave Inkster sitting alone. We switch seats, Inkster thanks the young woman and we begin.

Alexandria Inkster performing at Visualeyez 2016. Photo by Adam Waldron-Blain.

Inkster and I make eye contact and smile at one another. She folds an inch of one end of the paper. I follow her lead and do the same with mine. I watch the rhythm of her hands. She looks at me intently, inquisitively, and then smiles once more. I imagine we are speaking through this folding process; the ebbs and flows of a conversation, nods of empathy, breaking out in laughter, listening intently, all unfolding through the movement of our hands and the communication in our eyes. Not knowing what to expect or how the performance will end I keep folding, and folding, following Inkster’s lead, until there is no paper left to fold. At this point Inkster takes a rubber band off her wrist, bundles up the folded piece of paper and hands it to me. “Thank you for the conversation,” she says, smiling.

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