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)


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)


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)


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)


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.