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

The Flight of the Animator (2)

Posted by Cian Cruise on September 25th, 2015

My laptop’s charging in the AC stand and my cell phone’s daisy chained to the USB port, both hungry for power after a week of labour. A BBQ pork steamed bao works its way down my gullet. People mill about the airport, wandering from gate to gate, towing children or luggage or time. I just said goodbye to Guadalupe and Luciana, who’re heading back to Van city for the Live Biennale. The other artists have already left, their homes spread across the wide expanse of this nation. My flight’s in an hour or so. All of a sudden the festival’s over, I can feel it in my bones.

Breakfast Symposium - photo by Mathieu Léger

Breakfast Symposium – photo by Mathieu Léger

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Day 6 Afternoon – Nayeon Yang, Marie-Claude Gendron, DC3 Art Projects, and Gala

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 23rd, 2014

So many things happened on Day 6 it proved impossible to keep up.  Friday started with Nayeon Yang’s final instalment of her work in Edmonton’s Chinatown district which drew lots of attention.  People engaged with the work, coming up to us and asking us what it was all about.  I described the work to one group as a ‘moving sculpture’ which seemed to dispel some confusion.  We distributed the postcards asking people to write to Nayeon’s family in South Korea with their impressions of the performance.

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Nayeon Yang  Chinatown, Edmonton  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Nayeon continued her concentrated journey doing a loop of Edmonton’s small Chinatown neighbourhood.  There was no difficulty at this point in smelling the liquid in the fementing pot, which wafted towards the viewers.  I will now always associate the smell of vinegar with Nayeon’s work in Visualeyez.  The vertical line splash on her clothing from the contents of the pot had become more pronounced over the last week and began to recall associations to dried blood or the rusty orange of a deep sepia ink or the application of iodine to the skin.

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Nayeon Yang  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Upon completing her walk, Nayeon sat down in front of the chinese zodiac square and washed her face with some of the remaining contents of the pot, signalling the end of this cycle of performances.

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Nayeon Yang  Photo:  Sandra Der

In the early afternoon we accompanied Marie-Claude Gendron in her first performance for Visualeyez.  She alternately dragged, pushed and kicked a wooden plinth forward down 106th St towards the impressive towers of Grant McEwan College, while carrying a large plank of wood on her back.  The artist moved quickly and the performance assumed a processional quality.

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Marie-Claude Gendron   Photo: Sandra Der

MARIE-CLAUDE GENDRON 4Heading north, Marie-Claude arrived at her destination after a somewhat arduous and uninterrupted journey flanked by the viewers on either sidewalk and some passing cars.  When she reached the college, she chose an epic modern archway under which she set down the plinth and wooden plank. She climbed on top of the plinth and held an object reminiscent of a silver ‘winning’ cup victoriously in the air.

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Marie-Claude Gendron   Photo: Sandra Der

Her arm became weak and she started to struggle with the object as she continued to remain in this pose.  Eventually the object dropped loudly, and she dismounted and entered the college, carrying a mallet tied to a long piece of material.  As we followed behind her, she walked quickly and quietly swung the hammer.  We passed the school cafeteria and a viewer remarked later that this that it brought memories of Columbine.  From what I’ve seen of Marie-Claude’s work in this festival, her work does definitely carry an unexpected weight of a potential danger which is never actualized.  A young woman of relatively small stature, she moves quickly and decisively through the streets of the city and the architecture of the college claiming unquestioned authorship within this public space.

She exited the school, and standing outside we suddenly realized we were surrounded by glass windows.  She began to swing the hammer over her head.  Although she did not release it, we completed the action in our minds by imagining with horror the hammer being flung in the air and smashing into the windows.

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Marie-Claude Gendron   Photo: Sandra Der

I constructed a whole narrative that someone would get hurt while typing on a computer in the office tower, and an ambulance would have to be called.  Did the festival have insurance to fix the glass? I feared these possible outcomes and shifted uncomfortably as if standing at a precipice.  Several other viewers seemed to have a similar reaction. The artist drew our attention to the vulnerability of the architecture, that which we generally consider to be solid and controlled, or controlling.  Her actions seemed to draw out the potential, hidden bodies within the buildings, calling them to make themselves known.  During the performance we came to be aware of the architecture in a completely sensitized way, not as a place to pass through without noticing, but as a changing space dependent for its definition on the activity that it holds or contains.

We’ve all experienced ‘dead’ spaces of architecture where nothing goes on no matter what goes on,  so its impressive Marie-Claude had created significant activity and spatial reflection in this work through her intervention in what was most likely theorized to be a ‘neutral’ space (evidence of this can be found in the beige tones prevalent everywhere).

As closure for this performance, Marie-Claude emptied her boots of sugar and sand, combining the left and right contents on the ground, leaving evidence that she had walked the space.   This trace of the body becomes particularly meaningful when considering expectations in relation to gendered encounters with architecture. A gendered experience requires that there are various layers of visibility at work in the public realm in relation to our bodies – in public space, the female body, even when present, is absent. To leave evidence of a once present absence doubles this assertion of claiming public space in Marie-Claude’s work.

Beau Coleman drove myself and and Marie-Claude in what was the most efficient location scouting trip I’ve ever been on. Marie-Claude quickly chose a location for tomorrow’s performance on the ‘other side of the river’.  Then we headed to DC3 Art Projects to experience the work of Blair Brennan, including a collaborative performance with Brian Webb accompanied by Allyson MacIvor.  The work explored the subject of magic and the  language and ephemera surrounding religious experience in Christianity.

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Brian Webb (above) in collaboration with Blair Brennan DC3Art Projects, Edmonton Photo: Irene Loughlin

The bed of nails I think did not require being constructed during Webb’s performance as I thought the object’s presence was quite strongly felt in the exhibition already.  The movement of Brian Webb rolling along the floor to the bed of nails and back again was a compelling image exploring these religious themes and served to agitate the divide between the audience and performer.

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Brian Webb  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Moving back to Latitude 53 for the Visualeyez Gala, we encountered Soufia Bensaid standing in the black box that she had used previously in the week.

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Soufia Bensaid    Photo:  Irene Loughlin

Although earlier in the week she had drawn a weaving, unending line in the architecture of this space punctuated by large dots at the end of the piece, this time Soufia began by using dots which tapped against the walls rhythmically. After about ten minutes of tapping out a line of dots on the wall, she suddenly stopped and looked at the viewers.  To our delight she then gave out pieces of chalk and invited us into the space to do the same.

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The small alcove became packed with people all tapping out a dotted rhythmn. We were unable to created a rhythmic line as Soufia had done as there were too many of us, and the work evolved into the generalized creative chaos that is Visualeyez when everyone gets together to work on a piece.  Surprisingly, the final result became something of a poetic, universal drawing, as eventually the tapping diminished and the work ended itself.  The viewers also enjoyed documenting the trace of the drawing on their bodies.

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Following that food, drink, dance, conversation. The stuff of life.

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Visualeyez Crew (l to r): Pam Patterson, Nayeon Yang, Soufia Bensaid,

Todd Janes, Marie-Claude Gendron, Gavin Krastin. Photo:  Irene Loughlin

Day 6 Afternoon GROUP WORK – performance in real time by Pam Patterson

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 20th, 2014

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(l to r): Soufia Bensaid, Pam Patterson, Angela Skaley  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Well, as we speak I’m both in and blogging about Pam Patterson’s performance work which includes the artists from the festival:  Nayeon Yang, Gavin Krastin, Soufia Bensaid, and as well as some visiting artists/participants: Ester Scott MacKay, Beau Coleman and Angela Skaley.

At first I felt kind of sad that I wasn’t performing with them although I am kind of performing with them (I’m sitting at the table typing this, but they’ve all left me about 10 minutes ago for the video area of the room) but it all seems good right now.  I took a photo of them throwing a stack of images that represented themselves in the centre of the table. That was the beginning of the performance.  (inserted 6 am Day 7)

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Performance by Pam Patterson   Photo: Irene Loughlin

I’m struck by how the performance is somewhat slowly paced but I’m having a hard time keeping up.  The viewers are sitting against the wall on benches, at the north wall of the gallery.  I wonder why they don’t come over here.

Now the artists are taking from a huge pile of bricks, and they are stacking the bricks by each artist’s pre-stationed, open umbrella.  Audio has started of rain and there’s old film footage of a man running by a brick wall.  Beau, Gavin and Ester cast shadows of various lengths into the video projection.  Some of the stacked bricks are also shadowed in the projection.  They’ve picked up their umbrellas and are now walking around the space.  Another brick in the wall by Pink Floyd is playing and each of them have a different action with the brick.  Nayeon seems to be scrubbing the floor with her brick.  Beau is rubbing two bricks together.  Pam is slowly lifting a brick to the ceiling then down to the ground.  I haven’t caught the rest (although they all had their individual actions) because now they have started throwing the bricks.

hey teacher leave them kids alone

Perhaps a reoccuring theme as earlier this morning we spoke of research-based practice.  But I still have to organize the notes from this morning, so today’s posts are not created in a linear fashion.  I hope you don’t mind.

Well, this turns out to be quite a clever piece.  Nayeon is dragging her umbrella full of bricks.  Several of the umbrellas have been deconstructed into their basic form.

Well I wish I had time to post the photos right now but I don’t I’ll do it later.  It does seem like general chaos now.  Should Pam really be holding Gavin up to the ceiling?  I don’t think that’s so good for her body.  Oh now Beau is helping her.  They are doing it!  He’s hanging the umbrellas off the grid, which is pretty high up since Latitude has high ceilings.

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(l to r: Beau Coleman, Nayeon Yang, Gavin Krastin, Pam Patterson, Angela Skaley) Photo: Irene Loughlin

There’s various aesthetic arrangements of bricks on the floor. Check out this one. That’s Ester’s.

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Arrangement of bricks by Ester Scott MacKay, work by Pam Patterson  Photo: Irene Loughlin

There seems to be a lull where not much is going on. That’s great maybe I can post a photo.  Oh wait, Gavin is throwing a brick into the corner.  Now Beau is going to. Soufia just jumped for an umbrella.  This seems to be the destruction phase of the performance.

Oh they are all sitting down now. Thats my cue.  I’m supposed to turn the light off or something. I think I’ll make them wait.  They all construct a personal symbol as they stand behind their chairs (generally with their hands), something that represents them but I can’t catch it.  now they sat down and are ripping up their paper. gavin just threw some afrgAT ME. its interfering with my typingg. damn itsannoying.  noow i can’t ssew the screen.  see the screen.  i should take a picture. oh well.  seems like the piece is over i think perhaps?

yes seems like it is.  the end.

 

 

 

Day 5 Entrances and Exits

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 20th, 2014

Entrances and exits were the topic of conversation this morning as we gathered around the table. We were happy to have Edmonton artist Beau Coleman with us today.

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(l to r) Beau Coleman and Pam Patterson  Photo: Irene Loughlin

We all know the drill when it comes to entrances and exits on a theatrical stage.  An actor or dancer emerges from stage left or stage right, usually from behind some heavy black velvet curtains, and disappears into the wings similarly upon exiting.   Somehow performance art is different.  Entrances and exits often embody an ambiguity for the viewer.  ‘Is it over?’ is a question that generally hangs over the uncertain endings of a performance art work.  Perhaps someone takes the plunge and claps, and are followed hesitantly by other viewers. The clapping increases in volume when we realize that its all ok, that no one is reappearing in the space.  Its assumed that the person that claps first is most likely “in the know”, (otherwise, why would they take the risk?) and has some secret knowledge of the ending of the work. Its safe to follow along.  Perhaps they are a friend of the performer?

Although there’s often uncertainty on the part of the viewer,  Soufia contributed that coming into a space as a performer brings with it a definite consciousness and intentionality.  Pam questioned the expectations of a beginning and an end in performance, citing the concept of the suspension or arrest as an important aspect of movement in dance.  Todd talked about the permeable borders of the audience and Gavin and Pam talked about locating the beginning of the performance in a conceptual rather than a physical moment. Such conceptual beginnings might be found in an evocative thought or object, a discussion with the Festival Director (sometimes years in advance), or in the first meetings with collaborators.

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Soufia Bensaid, Nightwalk  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Endings were also located in the recollections of the viewers such as the stories they told of the performance sometimes years after the fact, when memory could not be counted on for complete accuracy.  The ephemera of the piece (such as the postcards in Nayeon’s work) might also be places where endings are found.   Soufia spoke of the profound after effect of the performance on the body, which is in fact, unspeakable in terms of psychic transformations.  Endings might also be found in the impact and markings of physical injuries that could have occurred during the performance. Beau mentioned that the performance takes on a kind of sculptural form in reflection, to think on a piece necessarily transforms the performance into an art object.  I asked Nayeon why she did not look for an exit at the end of her performance in public space as there were many opportunities to duck behind a food truck for example.  She explained that by not exiting the performance becomes more about the viewer, their need to discuss the work or not, and that not exiting diffuses the separation between life and art.

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Pam Patterson on Practice-Based Research, University of Alberta Photo: Irene Loughlin

In the afternoon, we went to a lecture by Pam Patterson in Natalie Loveless’ class at the University of Alberta where Pam presented on practice-based research in performance.  I’m stil somewhat confused by the concept of practice-based research, although we kicked this idea around at the University of Toronto (particularly with artist Yam Lau)  during my graduate studies.  I’m proposing we talk more about this idea Day 6 in our morning sessions.

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Lipstick and Bullets by Cindy Baker at The Feminist Exhibition Space at the University of Alberta Photo: Irene Loughlin

Luckily, we also ran into Cindy Baker in the parking lot of U of A.  You can currently see her exhibition Lipsticks and Bullets, at the Feminist Exhibition Space at the University of Alberta (until Dec 23rd).  I waited for her artist talk in the sunshine, experiencing the sublime on campus while the fall leaves rained down on me. Cindy’s artist talk and the exhibition covered many fascinating observations on the subject of lipstick and bullets.  Did you know that ammunition factories during the war became lipstick production factories after the war, where bullet encasings were transformed into the casings for lipstick through just a slight alteration?  You can also see a cast of Cindy’s clitoris displayed with the other lipsticks, as a response to a discussion on always defaulting to Freudian interpretations of the phallic when contemplating objects such as lipstick casings.  Which, when you think about it, the Freudian association doesn’t really make sense. Great woman, great exhibition.

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Gavin Krastin, assisted by Karen Gill   Photo: Irene Loughlin

In the evening Gavin presented the second instalment of his performance. Although I had previously seen this work, it was as hypnotic as the first viewing.  Later, Soufia Bensaid took a group on a silent night walk in the area.  I followed for a while but due to an old knee injury I left the group somewhat early as I’d been standing most of the day.  I missed the finale of the walk where Adam apparently sang beautifully to the traffic. I’ll try to upload that audio with Soufia today.  Day 5 was a thought-provoking day, and I’m looking forward to unpacking the ideas put forward in Day 5 at breakfast this morning, which is Day 6. Unfortunately, its our last day! Well, at least we will always have the Visualeyez Gala, scheduled for later tonight!

 

 

Day 4 – Afternoon Nayeon Yang at the Market

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 19th, 2014

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Nayeon Yang Photo:  Sandra Der

Nayeon’s work at a street market in Edmonton marked the second instalment of her work using scent.  The scent of blueberry juice, cider vinegar, soya sauce, black bean sauce in a pot used for fermentation had grown stronger, and her surroundings had grown narrower.  Walking on the street assumed the long vertical movement of a processional, adding to the ritualistic context of the work.

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Nayeon Yang  Photo: Sandra Der

People were much  closer to Nayeon in this segment of the work and she was flanked by market stalls on either side as she walked.  Workers and visitors to the market consulted each other to figure out what was going on with Nayeon as she wove down the street, narrowly avoiding people and animals.

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Nayeon Yang  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Her clothing although still white and made somewhat more pristine by the peaceful quality of her movement, nonetheless had gathered more stains from the dripping liquid, and the work as a whole began to take on a slightly worn quality.  Somewhat sadder in its feeling, Nayeon sat for a moment on the ground at the end of the work, evoking a feeling of displacement.

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Nayeon Yang  Photo: Irene Loughlin

Day 4 Morning – Why Measure?

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 19th, 2014

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‘We, the Audience…”  Photo: Jack Bawden

Day Four has been somewhat chaotic even though, or maybe because, the subject of our morning talk was ‘measuring’.  The conversation swirled around Orlan’s early work, the work of Jin me Yoon, the topographical, the grid, menstruating as a way that the body measures, the difficulty of finding time for studio practice if you have children, work etc., creating in small measurements of time, time and its pressures on women, measuring one’s own visibility as one ages as a woman (Pam Patterson, Nayeon Tang, Ester Scott MacKay, Irene Loughlin).  Gavin talked about some bizarre historical practices of measuring race in South Africa, and that measurement has been used as a tool for fixing supremacy.  He observed that fixed measurements cut away the bleeding, the mess, the questioning and the provocations in life and art.  Money and acquisitions have long been used as a methodology to measure worth.  In performance, Todd mentioned measuring durational works as a necessity to give an indication of ‘where you are’ in the performance, and a less metered approach to measuring that includes assessing the impact of a work while you are in it and taking the temperature of the room. In Todd’s ‘furtive’ (under-discovered) practice, a qualitative reading is often located in his journal writing after the fact, as there is often a great degree of subtlety during the work, and no physical documentation is taken as fixed evidence. For Todd, there must be a measure of interchange in the work between performance artist and viewer, although the viewer may not always be aware that they are implicated in the piece.  Soufia mentioned measuring time organically, particularly in the preparatory period before a performance, where it takes approximately 20 minutes for her mind to settle in solitude apart from the audience/viewer.  Gavin related the strategy of measuring through breathe which allows for a greater diversity of measurement (as 20 breathes can mean many things to many people).  The opposite might be found in a strictly metered approach to measuring by counting, a method which is often used in dance training.  Very interesting conversations, which I’m sure will play out over the next few days.

Day 3 Visualeyez Morning Session

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 18th, 2014

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Our 10 am meeting started off with quinoa and fruit by Robyn (mmm) and performance art exercises on the patio led by Soufia.  I didn’t document those because that would be, well, either too invasive or too silly.  We mirrored each others’ actions and made some of our own, as well as communicated through nonsensical verbal games. Following this dadaesque a.m. exercise, the conversation circulated around the question of space and its affect on movement.  Unlike Soufia’s methodology which centred on taking the time to walk in Edmonton and respond to her surroundings, Pam Patterson described her process as necessitated by pre-planning because her performance involved creating with two or three participants she had not previously met.  She talked about internally adjusting the plan to the circumstances of her surroundings as she became more familiar with the space in which they would work together in Latitude 53.

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Naeyon reframed space as that which is not necessarily outside ourself, asserting that “our body is the space” as a unit of time, and as a biologically-defined space.  It is from this place she suggests we can explore the concept of space, rather than defaulting to our understanding of space as something geographical, something outside of ourselves.  Todd Janes spoke of transcending a concretized space through the use of smell and sound in performance, and the embodiment of space using our physicality as a kind of psychic extension of our surroundings, an extension often animated through the storytelling that takes place via the viewer, during and after the event.  Performance art can also function as a kind of projection into space, where the performer views themselves and their performative situation from the outside by casting their awareness out into the viewing area – an ‘over there’ throwing of one’s consciousness, a technique which pre ponders the ‘fantasy of reception’.  We briefly spoke about the opposite of expansion via collapsed space, and its underbelly – displacement, as immeasurable (although there was something about a eureka moment in a bathtub), which I imagine are threads that will return later in the week.  Naeyon posed the question “What is the purpose of measuring?” which will be tackled tomorrow.  We finished with Soufia recounting her experience of last night’s performance,  where she guided our evening walk by following ‘where the space opened’ in the urban landscape via traffic lights, empty spaces, and the passage of other walkers. Gavin noted the difference to Capetown, in that Edmonton generally obeys traffic light crossings, whereas Robin contributed her knowledge of the policing of crossing in Edmonton, which we would come to know more intimately following Pam Patterson’s transgression over the threshold of appropriate public space for a body, which is apparently, not in the plaza fountain.

Sneak Preview

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 17th, 2014

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The Visualeyez table Images by Irene Loughlin

Incredible! The sun and heat.  I should have left my winter coat at home!  This morning after being pummelled in an early morning session of deep tissue work (and when they say that in Edmonton, they mean business)  I wove down 106th St wondering what would happen today to amaze me.  Visualeyez participants met for the first time around a table at Latitude 53 over mid-morning breakfast, thanks to Robyn O’Brien (Latitude Admin Coordinator) the self-described ‘creepy ghost making toast’!   We were also joined by Latitude 53 creatives Karen, Emily and Olivia.

The artists spoke on some of the predicted themes of Visualeyez in relation to movement. Naeyon Yang beautifully articulated her thoughts on scent, which will play a central role in her upcoming work.  There is no certain archive in which to hold scent; she therefore proposed that we consider memory as an anchor, a metaphorical container which addresses the problem of scent’s temporality.   Todd Janes recounted crossing paths with a coyote last night on his way back from the airport with Naeyon, and reflected on the panicked responses to coyote sightings and the urge to enclose wildlife via environmental colonization and urban sprawl.  I posed the question of intentional space in performance and how choosing space affects the artist’s movement in their work.

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                                               Adam Waldron-Blain and Soufia Bensaid location scouting   

In the afternoon, we scouted for locations and Adam spoke with a reporter about the festival.  Soufia Bensaid continued to familiarize herself today with the city of Edmonton. I received a cryptic text message at 8:30 pm to join her at Latitude 53 at 9 pm, where I found her sitting quietly on a bench in the front patio area.   Awkwardly crossing the barely discernible line between public space and performative space, I sat down beside her and assumed her meditative pose.   Todd Janes and Gavin Krastin noisily drove up and stumbled out of the van, yet Soufia’s concentration remained unbroken.  They were also compelled to sit with her.  I thought about Soufia’s different way of hearing, and her contributions regarding experiences of the auditory as we sat with her in silence. Earlier in the day I had noticed how some abrupt sounds made her jump while other sounds were barely discernible to her.  I heard people come and go, the traffic, an ambulance.

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                                                                                                                                           Soufia Bensaid 

Soufia eventually handed us flashing LED lights and led us in a walk.  Waiting for us to catch up with her near the Days In, she did not hear a car pull up behind her waiting to turn into the parking lot.  She held her ground peacefully and made eye contact with the driver, much like the coyote Todd encountered in his headlights an evening earlier. The driver became impatient and irritated while she stood unmoving and we stopped and started, negotiating the awkward and invisible boundary in the hierarchy of driver/pedestrian.

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Edmonton or Venice.. 

Soufia’s walk revealed a romanticism about Edmonton I didn’t know existed – historic buildings reflected in the water, people dancing by the water fountain.  I felt confused as I walked around the edge of the fountain.  Later we confronted traffic at a busy intersection, singing childhood songs, and screaming as loud as we could, our voices lost in the acceleration of the vehicles.

photo-3                               Observing oncoming traffic (l to r) Todd Janes, Soufia Bensaid, Gavin Krastin 

Welcome to Visualeyez!

Posted by Irene Loughlin on September 16th, 2014

I arrived in Edmonton last night, armed with iPad, laptop and phone, happy to be the Visualeyez blogger and eager to begin documenting the cultural life of the city.  Here is my first victim.

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the common Edmonton hare

If you find a solitary baby hare in Edmonton, do not pick it up.  If you do, you are a KIDNAPPER. (more…)

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.) - -

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