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 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.
Posted by Cindy on September 17th, 2010
I’m staring out the window of my hotel room, trying to convince myself that it’s not quite as lovely outside as my mind wants me to believe! It’s a bright sunny day; the perfect day for a walk!
I’m getting ready to go to Sobey’s to partake of caribou X crossing‘s Miles of Aisles!
It’s the first time I’ve used my iPod for anything like music or video, so I’m nervous about whether it will even work. It should be okay, though, right? How hard can it be?
I was up blogging all night but am surprisingly refreshed today and am looking forward to more great art and engaging conversation! I’ve got several pages of notes about projects I both have and haven’t seen, so hopefully this afternoon I will find time to sit down and do some more big bursts of writing. I also need to make time to eat properly! Today, in the interest of health and sanity, I will entertain any and all invitations for coffee breaks, lunches and supper dates! Unless it means missing Randy Lee Cutler‘s Ask Me About Salt at 4 pm, (which I missed yesterday) or Jennifer Mesch and Scott Smallwood‘s The Comfort Room at 7:30, which is only being performed once!
Wow; I’d better get going! Stop by the gallery sometime after 1 pm if you want to help make sure I’ve eaten something today!
Posted by Cindy on September 17th, 2010
For those planning to attend Alberta Arts Days at the Jubilee Auditorium this Saturday, Visualeyez projects listed in the festival schedule will differ from the projects each of the artists will be doing during the rest of the festival. Don’t avoid coming to one because you plan to attend the other – Jennifer Mesch and Scott Smallwood’s performance on Saturday at Arts Days is something completely different from The Comfort Room, which they will present at Latitude on Friday. Chun Hua Catherine Dong’s performance on Saturday will be completely different from Hourglass, the work she is presenting in the gallery over the course of the festival! Contact Latitude 53 for more information, or just come out and see it anyway, goddamnit!