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

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.