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

Thanks, Edmonton!

Posted by Cindy on October 4th, 2010

So last weekend I was sitting – hiding – in Sydney’s office at Latitude 53 while a wedding took place out on the balcony. It kind of felt like the performance festival was still going on, not because of some sort of cynical attitude on my part towards the spectacle of marriage, but because there was a nice big audience for the relatively intimate event, and half the people had cameras, and because they all clapped when it was over. I mean, and because it happened at Latitude 53 (duh). It got me thinking about performance art, as I had been for 2 straight weeks without a break. I mean, I’m a believer in the idea that it’s art because the artist says it’s so. But what makes it performance?

Visualeyez is great for presenting a breadth of performance practices and for testing the limits of what is considered performance. More even than the varieties of food-related performance this year were the varieties of ways in which the works were performed by someone – or something – other than the artists themselves.

Adina Bier performed – but passively – and asked the audience to be the active performers in her work On Boulevard de Clichy.

Culinary Cultures in the Kinder/Garden enlisted bacteria and other life forms that were as much the performers as Alison Reiko Loader and Kelly Andres.

Hourglass begged to be performed even in the absence of the artist Chun Hua Catherine Dong.

In Show Me Your Edmonton, Robin Lambert and Brette Gabel invited the intimate audience to be equal collaborators in creating the art.

caribou X crossing‘s Beau Coleman, Melissa Thingelstad and Matthew Skopyk had the audience of Miles of Aisles perform the work, though it was the grocery store itself that was on display. During the group tour, the audience had the great fortune of experiencing both the story playing on their iPods and the spectacle of the throng of other participants misbehaving in the grocery store.

Just about all the work was participatory, inviting viewers to share and contribute to the work.

Food Wars in particular invited viewers to share not just in the experience but in a meal prepared by the artists Naufús Ramirez Figueroa and Manolo Lugo.

In Ask Me About Salt, the very title encourages spectators to engage with the artist Randy Lee Cutler.

Comfort Room, the one performance where the audience was clearly the spectator and the artists Jennifer Mesch and Scott Smallwood the performers on stage, was a foil for the other projects, reminding us of the value and beauty of performance made to be watched and experienced.

Not only did I get to see all the performances and get to know all the artists, but I was also privileged to be at the gallery every day watching all the behind-the-scenes action, and I saw all the hard work that went into making Visualeyez a reality.

Before I leave the blog and go back to my life in Saskatoon, I just want to extend a wholehearted thanks to Todd Janes and the whole Visualeyez team, including all the staff and volunteers at Latitude 53. There’s no way I’ll be able to remember everyone’s names, but I’ll do my best. Thanks to Robert Harpin, Alaine Mackenzie, Vicky Wong, Sydney Lancaster, Russell whose last name I never caught but who did all the heavy lifting no one else dared to, Jamie Hamaguchi, Heather Challoner and Jacqueline Ohm all the other volunteers and all the board members who attended and volunteered at the events and everyone else behind the scenes that I never got to meet but who helped make the festival so amazing! (I’m talking to you, Sally Poulsen!)

And special thanks to all the artists! I’m really grateful to have had the chance to meet you and get to know you, and I feel like I made some really close friends. Those artists who I already knew I had the chance to get to know better, and I’m coming away from the festival enriched as an artist and a writer and a person.

Thanks everyone!

- - My last night in town, out with Todd Janes and super volunteer Heather Challoner at Ramen Noodle Maker. (Todd mugs for the camera, indulging in a post-festival moment of mania.) - -

Food Wars: Postmortem

Posted by Cindy on October 2nd, 2010

A couple of days ago, Edmonton food blogger Sharon Yeo made a great post about Visualeyez on her blog Only Here for the Food.

It’s great to read a take on the festival from someone who’s connected to the food world more than the art world, and it’s nice to hear that she really got into the art!

She’s not the only foodie getting into Visualeyez this year; as Sharon notes, Carla from the Junction Bar and Eatery stopped by to take in Food Wars by Naufús Ramirez-Figueroa and Manolo Lugo, and was conscripted into service covering the Guatemalan cake with fondant.

- - Naufús Ramirez-Figueroa assembles his cake - -

Food Wars brought out the best – and worst – in Visualeyez’s audiences this year, provoking thoughtful conversation, enthusiastic over-indulgence, pleasant dinner company, and yes, voter misconduct.

(more…)

Food Wars: Menu

Posted by Cindy on September 23rd, 2010

Now that the dust has settled on the Food Wars scandal, there’s time to stand back and reflect on the meals created by Mexican artist Manolo Lugo and Guatemalan born artist Naufús Ramirez-Figueroa.

These meals were so decadent and over the top it was clear the artists were earnest about competing for top spot in the hearts and stomachs of the audience!

This post will be updated later today to include photos, so come back soon!

(more…)

My own breakfast adventure!

Posted by Cindy on September 20th, 2010

This morning a handful of artists and I are  going on a breakfast adventure to Cafe Mosaics on Whyte Avenue. Yum!

Then I’m going to be at the gallery the rest of the day, blogging and napping. I’m excited to post the menus and closeup food pictures from last night, and have great notes for a double-header blog post about Miles of Aisles and Culinary Cultures of the Kinder/Garden!

Don’t forget to weigh in on the debate about who should have won last night’s food war!

Food Wars: Round 3

Posted by Cindy on September 19th, 2010

Dessert round!

Dessert was honestly not the highlight of the evening, but not because it wasn’t good. The rest of the dinner was so overwhelmingly creative and delicious that dessert was just the topper to a fabulous meal! (The topper, I might add, which tipped most of the audience over from full to uncomfortably stuffed.)

Naufus’ cake turned out really well, which was important to me because I had a personal investment in it.

People are still trickling into the gallery and eating what is left of the food. I’ll be curious to talk to them to see if their opinions of the food are different from those I’ve talked to already, since they’ll ostensibly be eating the less popular food that still remains on each table.

The gallery has pretty much cleared out. I’m sort of disappointed to see that people were much  more eager to eat the food than to find out which country wins the competition, though I have to say that most people I talked to as they were leaving expressed that they’d be glued to the blog waiting for the results!

I’ve had a hard time deciding who I think will win the competition. I mean, I hard a very hard time deciding who I wanted to vote for. Most other people I talked to also had a hard time, but when push came to shove, they all had good reasons for their vote.

We’re talking about waiting to announce the winner until the feedback session later tonight, since so many people are gone now. It’s hard to know if people will come back at 8:00, but come on! The crowning of the winner is going to be the most exciting part!

Stay tuned for photos!

Waiting for the war to start…

Posted by Cindy on September 19th, 2010

I just got back from getting a rooibos london fog (sans vanilla) and a bagel at Credo to tide me over until Food Wars starts.

They’re really great there and have provided much-need coffee support to the festival. Plus, their latte foam is completely unparalleled!

There are so many people in the gallery today! All of the artists have gotten to know each other, and the staff and volunteers. We’re all one big family now, and people are starting to feel like it’s all coming to an end already.

I’m going to go jump in to the socializing now, and shut the laptop for a while.

Hunger wars!

Posted by Cindy on September 19th, 2010

So now I’m deadly hungry and it’s getting late. I spent the morning in my hotel room writing and I really don’t want to be late for today’s Food Wars performance by Manolo Lugo and Naufús Ramirez-Figueroa, though I anticipate it’ll be quite late getting started. I want to settle in and really soak up the surroundings, not to mention getting a good seat!

I’m going to head over to Credo before going to the gallery, though. I haven’t made time to go there yet but as they’re one of the festival’s sponsors, I’m already a big fan!

Alison Reiko Loader moved in to my hotel room today, which means that Randy Lee Cutler‘s on her way out of town. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to talk with her a bit more this afternoon before she leaves; there are still things I want to ask her about salt!

Bread Baby

Posted by Cindy on September 18th, 2010

Tonight I adopted a bread baby. I wore it in a sling throughout the Comfort Room performance, and it was oddly comforting. In fact, I wore it back to the hotel and am now lying on my stomach on the bed, blogging with my new little girl curled up for warmth in the small of my back.

I opted to wear the “doughbie” under my sweater so as to allow it to benefit from being closer to my skin, so it’s really more like I am a surrogate dough mommy, yet to give birth. I mean, now that it’s on my back I’m not sure how I feel about what exactly it is, but it’s still comforting. I feel like I’ve made a real commitment to this dough, and am now trying to decide how and when and where to bake it. Naufus, and Manolo (who I finally met tonight) are busy working on the dishes for their Food Wars in another hotel (one that has  suites with kitchens) and they’ve invited me to stop by. I know Naufus has a lot of cakes to bake, though, so I don’t know that there’d be room for me! I might end up baking at my Mom’s after all!

Well, I have a lot of writing to do before I make that decision anyway, and the baby has a lot of growing to do before she’s big enough to pop in the oven! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

- I am great with bread dough.