Arts Featured

A city in motion

An artifact awaiting a ritual // Nika Blasser, dc3 Art Projects
An artifact awaiting a ritual // Nika Blasser, dc3 Art Projects

As a city—the collection of structures and pathways we’ve set our lives both in and around—Edmonton is in motion, in flux. It seems impossible not to have been impeded by at least some of the endless construction projects happening all over Edmonton, but it’s more than just maintenance and a sisyphean battle with potholes: with a downtown entertainment district green-lit and ambitious LRT plans spreading out across the city like new veins, the ways we navigate the city will soon have to alter to match the new state of the pace.

Given all that, movement seems a particularly fitting theme for this year’s Visualeyez, Latitude 53’s annual festival of performance art. How we pass through urban spaces as city restructures itself is something that curator Todd Janes has been mulling over.

“We’re over a million people now for metro Edmonton,” Janes says. “How we move in our city will be changing drastically.”

For the festival’s 15th iteration, Janes has pulled in eight artists from across the continent, united by that loose theme. Some are exploring the notions of urban architecture, and patterns of movement in the city; others, like Toronto-based Pam Paterson, are looking at movement on a more personal level.

“She’s going to be playing around with how people are able to move and celebrate and navigate the city, with disabilities or with obstacles,” Janes says. “Whether it’s age or physical or mental or social isolation issues.

“She’s looking for participants,” he adds. “It’s basically going to be a movement performance, involving other people and herself, choreographing it. And with household appliances.”

For artist Blair Brennan, the festival’s theme proved an easy adaptation for a project he already had underway.

“Well, I’m working with a dancer and the theme is movement, so … ,” he chuckles, standing in Dc3 Art Projects. “It worked really well.”

Brennan—whose own decades-spanning survey of work, titled The Right Side of Magic, is currently running at Dc3—has partnered with contemporary dance doyen Brian Webb and musician Allyson MacIvor], for An Unlearned Human Language, a three-night series of performances in the space. During the day, the Blair-created objects and installations will be present (along with a collection of his other works), but only in the evenings will they be animated in performance.

“I like the idea that this,” he says, gesturing to the work around him, “is the artifact, and at night you see the ritual.”

Brennan and Webb actually have a rich history of collaboration: the pair had a run of performance projects throughout the ’80s and early ’90s. A recent collaboration in Montréal, curated by a third party, brought them back together, and Brennan found himself missing that shared process.

Having the work as a part of Visualeyez also holds a personal appeal for Brennan.

“[Visualeyez is] a nice context to it: for me, the historic sense too,” he says. “The first show I was in was a Latitude show. They’ve been a really important part of the avant-garde heart of Edmonton. They’re the reason we have anything interesting in visual arts.”

Until Sun, Sep 21
Visualeyez
Various locations,
visualeyez.org

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