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 Evening Soufia Bensaid

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 19th, 2014

Soufia Bensaid’s work took place in a ‘black box’ alcove constructed within the Latitude 53 gallery space, a remnant structure created for a previous exhibition at Visualeyez that had not yet been dismantled.  The artist paced slowly around the interior of this black alcove, scratching a large piece of chalk against its three walls.  The resulting wavering, continuous line began at floor level and continued up the walls.  (Soufia Bensaid  Photo: Jack Bawden)

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It was difficult to catch the moment where Soufia turned at the edges of the space, and her rhythm remained unbroken.  Working from the ground to the height of walls, the performance recalled the techniques of drawing, but this horizon line in motion referenced some other kind of landscape, perhaps symbolic of the ocean, or the hum of background noise in a room.  (Soufia Bensaid  Photo: Jack Bawden)

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As she continued to draw this uninterrupted line, she maintained equal pressure and distance from the wall with her arm.  Occasionally there was a barely discernible, awkward twist of a wrist and elbow.  The elevating height of the line recalled rising tides, a long twisting path.  Upon completion of the drawing, Soufia began to punctuate the work with the chalk, rhythmically punching at the environmental scale that she had just created by fixing dots in space. These dots splattered on the lines of the wall, recalling imploding notes on a musical scale.   (Soufia Bonsai  Photo: Jack Bawden)

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A sense of her frustration with the order she had created descended upon her as deep sounds emerged from within her body.  She eventually broke through the flimsy alcove structure that contained her by increasing the ferocity of this action.   (Soufia Bensaid  Photo: Jack Bawden)

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I interpreted the work as both a negotiation and confrontation with normative structures of sound, a kind of breaking through the fixity of auditory environments in relation to her experience of hearing, and an assertion of the kind of sensitivity she had previously talked with me about, a sensitivity that can be unwelcome in a society focused on outward knowledge and capitalist production and in opposition to the emphasis she places on ‘listening’ to her body and the subtle information in her environment.

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