Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day four and some

So it is just over half way past this truncated festival and I am thinking about the richness of gifts that the artist have given to the festival, each other, the audiences, and myself. I am certain part of this is because today when Reona stepped out of the van and into the airport departures area I wanted to tell her how honoured I was that she was part of the festival and how moved I was by her performance - the first time because it just pulled out emotions from me that left me tearful and hopeful at the same time. Today during her performance - which I thought was tighter - I was able to connect with the performance differently and obtain some clarity - yesterday I was moved to tears so they are pretty equal. Tonight, I realize that I have my own special performance traces from her performance residues - scratches on my arms from her barb wire. They hopefully will heal, but the impact will be far longer lasting…

As curator I think of a large part of my role is to actually care for the artist, their work and the art which I often attempt and often succeed. It is also hard as these artist come for intense periods of time and create great works, build relationships and create bonds and then leave. While I understand this is life I am struck wondering where is performance art in Canada today and what are we doing collectively to build stronger relationships over our vast nation? Currently, performance art is homeless again - we had a home that was nurtured and developed through the InterArts Office at the Canada Council for the Arts - but now it seems both organizations that continually present and develop performance art and the performance artists are in limbo - InterArts seemingly evicted us from that home and suggested that we return to the empty nest parents of Visual Arts - where, we might assert, were never much but the poor cousin to the cash strapped visual arts in the Assistance to Artist-Run Centres pool. What will happen to performance art as we begin again to rebuild a sense of place? I write this because the talks that I shared with Reona often came around to mentoring and to youth and I think of the positive and timely injection that performance art received in Canada during the InterArts Office's early years; without which Visualeyez might not have continued and many emerging artist developed under that support through grants.

In her talk today after her performance Reona said that she never learned to speak the language of her elders - and could learn the language now through universities - but that the language is dead as no new words are actively added - it was likened to Latin. She said that her language was performance art and that this language is universal. This thought sticks to my mind like barbed wire to my skin - I need to let it scratch some more. Maybe sleep will help this idea to grow.

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