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.
Posted by Cindy on September 16th, 2010
It looks like the gallery is just about ready for Adina Bier‘s performance at 2:00. I mean, I didn’t count how many bananas there are in the gallery, but it’s an awfully big pile!
Last night at dinner I was talking with Robert Harpin about his great banana hunt, and he’s got some interesting banana insights. The grocery code for bananas is 4011, and apparently, he hasn’t found ANY bunches that have more than 7 bananas on it. As he says, they’re all “3 on top and 4 on the bottom.” Hmmmm…
I really hate bananas, but I just might have to eat one, you know, to help Adina out!
Posted by Cindy on September 15th, 2010
So I’ve set myself up in the gallery’s reception area again. By now I’ve met all the staff I hadn’t already known, and I have been slowly meeting the festival artists.
There’s been quite a bit of activity in the gallery since I was here yesterday. Robert Harpin (Program Officer) and Alison Reiko Loader were working in the gallery all night, until Alison basically had to beg Robert to let her go to bed!
All kidding aside, Alison was singing Robert’s praises, moments before they left for Ikea to buy installation supplies, leaving the space quiet but for the muffled tapping of a million tiny keyboards as the rest of the staff (and me) work to get ready for the festival’s opening performance this afternoon at 2 pm.
Speaking of which, I haven’t met Chun Hua Catherine Dong yet but am excited about her performance this afternoon. I have a thing about artmaking that involves tweezers, and I am anticipating a lovely smell from the ink on rice! I’m a bit more trepidatious about the bananas; I really can’t stand eating them, but for Adina Bier‘s performance I plan to better myself by learning to appreciate the overwhelming smell of 365 bananas!
Apparently, straight off the plane, Naufús Ramirez-Figueroa told Todd Janes he needed to go to Todd’s house to bake a pyramid-shaped cake. Todd decided that Naufús should settle in to the hotel first. No word on how the cake will be baked, but I have a feeling I’ll be back at my Mom’s house tonight, artist in tow…
Oh! Adina Bier just walked in and we’ve already started bonding over our dietary restrictions. Food is already bringing us together!