scenographies of site-writing
TUESDAY November 8th, 15h00-17h30
Site-Specific Scenographies of Resignification:
Feminist, Decolonial and Transnational Spatial Practices
Site-Specific Scenographies of Resignification: Feminist, Decolonial and Transnational Spatial Practices brought together a panel of artists, activists and scholars to exchange and discuss site-specific research and creation practices that care for/ disrupt/ decolonize/ and/or memorialize (urban) spaces that have been sites of trauma, colonial violence, and oppression. Participants reflected upon their positionality within their respective research and creation practice(s); speaking to their projects, the stakes, ethics and challenges, as well as the socially transformative potential of the research and creation work they are undertaking.
With: Paola Ovalle, Selena Couture, Roewan Crowe, Laura Levin & Sunita Nigam, Maria Jose Contreras
Maria Jose Contreras
Talk to the Future
In my site-specific performance work, I aim to create the conditions for embodied resonance with the space and with others. I embrace feminist methodologies for designing, creating, and performing my work. My work always emerges from my own positionality as a female artist that was born and grew in the context of the inflammatory political landscape of Latin America. The spark of my work is always political, and so are the formats of my interventions. I am committed to decolonizing the performance-making process while offering caring and careful encounters for vibrating together often in the margins of hegemonic institutions and spaces. In this presentation, I reflect on how my site-specific performances offer alternative modes of being together to conjure a more just, equitable, and caring future.
Performative Signifying in Coast Salish Territories
This presentation focuses on the incomplete resignification of Indigenous lands by the city of Vancouver’s first archivist James Skitt Matthews (1878-1970) in his efforts to create a benevolent British whiteness through performances and monument Stanley Park in the mid-twentieth century. Local Indigenous nations' protection and maintenance of their unceded, ancestral and traditional territories has both been consistent throughout years of illegal European settlement, and intensified recently, following successful court cases (including the Indian Residential School Class Action Settlement). Spurred by the TRC Calls to Action, the Vancouver Parks Board’s adoption of UNDRIP and commissioning of a “colonial audit” in 2018 is part of a process to designify colonial commemorative monuments and place names. This audit, along with continuous Indigenous and anti-colonial practices of performance are expanding the community of interpretants who understand the Indigenous signification of these sites.
hum of the blue hive
As a pandemic survival project and in response to the commodification of her back alley, Crowe ripped up the front lawn to create a potager garden, a space to grow food and to tend to vegetal creatures and pollinators. There she steps into the wonderous, humming life of the urban garden to labour, be lost, and breathe. The first video of the series, “hum of the blue hive,” is a pixelated poem to the sounds of dreams falling apart interplanted with the sounds of liveliness in the garden. After being in the presence of the borage plant at every stage of its life; and watching the humble bumble bee release pollen; Crowe explores queer biomimicry for vegetal relations; co-becoming, engaged in pleasingly strange encounters. Entranced by the soundscape, the artist makes oddkin with plants, birds, pollinators and feminist/queer artists/thinkers who have asked similar questions, thought similar thoughts. Wondered similar wonder.
Healing the Land. Trauma, Memory and Public Space.
A massacre is an event in which an individual or an armed group kills several people who are in a state of defenselessness. In this paper I present the results of the process of psychosocial accompaniment that I have been carrying out with the survivors of different massacres. One of the pillars of these processes is the intermediation between victims' collectives, communities and family members, together with Academia and artists. From the time when these places were marked by the horror of a massacre, the self-repairing force of those who resist the war became present in their desire to mark the wounded territory with traces of memory that enable public mourning. The accompaniment that I carry out, attends to the need of these collectives to transfer to the space, by creative means, the commemoration of their victims and their claims of justice. Muralism, experimental video and embroidery have been the techniques through which the will of memory of the affected communities is materialized. These spaces are open wounds in the Mexican territory. But just as healthy land and life prevail over death, the affected communities struggle to take care of life despite the continuation of violence and impunity.
Laura Levin & Sunita Nigam
The Politics of Performing House: Transnational and Scenographic Interventions
We will offer an overview of our recent issue of Canadian Theatre Review on “Performance & Housing,” and reflect on the feminist, decolonial, and transnational methodologies it proposes for approaching houses as sites of political and embodied spatial practice. Engaging with “house” as a scenographic projection of identity, and as a site of both normative and resistant creativity, we argue that houses of all kinds must be treated as processual, performative practices that enact and disrupt the material contexts in which they are embedded. We make a case for paying attention to scenic design alongside movement vocabularies, housing scripts, and the gendering and racializing of domesticity, and argue for site writing that reads house through local, transnational, and hemispheric frameworks. In doing so, we assert that the performative politics of housing reveals shared experiences of dwelling, citizenship, and belonging that cross—and, more crucially, contest—colonial and geopolitical borders.
THURSDAY November 10th, 15h00-17h30
Where are the edges? Site-writing as critical spatial practice
This roundtable brought together artists, activists and scholars to share and exchange the performative potential of site-writing in the built environment.
With: Jane Rendell, TRES, Sergio Andrade, Pablo Carvalho & Tais Almeida, Tracy Tidgwell
Renegotiating the edges between us
I will talk to, through and with edges, in terms of transitional space, referring first to a piece called Seven Studies for ‘A Holding’, 23 March–31 May 2020, and then to a more recent editorial project called Site-Reading Writing Quarterly. Seven Studies was an act of holding together – myself, during bereavement, but also with others – though experimenting with the pedagogic space of site-writing during the pandemic. Online spaces have allowed a renegotiation of the edges between us, something I have approached curatorially through Site-Reading Writing Quarterly. Each solstice and equinox I invite writers to swap recently completed works and provide a situated ‘re-view’. These acts of exchange, of ‘reading writing’ differently, generate multiple modes of engaging with words, exploring the practice of ‘re-viewing’ from a situated perspective, one that critiques and experiments with the genre of the ‘critical review essay’, creating something far more entangled.
Critical urban ecosystems
The art collective TRES developed a research project centred on critical ecosystems of the urban river Rimac in Lima, Peru (2022). We rescued the figure of the vulture, historically present in this territory, as one that plays a fundamental role in the processing of waste dumped in the river. Through this project we question the architectural development and urban planning of interspecies coexistence through a ritual-action offering and an aesthetic experience on rooftops.
Mientras Bailamos [While We Dance], 2019, is a series of video-installations and situated performances by Sérgio Andrade, a Brazilian artist and scholar working across the fields of dance, performance, and philosophy. The series, Mientras Bailamos, is the result of his artist residency at Lugar a Dudas, in Cali, Colombia. It consists of seven pieces - radical dialogues triggered between the artist’ experience in contemporary urban dystopia and the tele-counter-choreographies articulated by the intersections of neoliberalism, neocolonialism and neofascism in the Americas. Sérgio will present a short version of his lecture-performance The Choreography of Everyday Neofascism is Fear, which was first presented by the artist on the Residencia Lugar a Dudas' rooftop, in 2019, and then last year in New York.
Pablo Carvalho and Tais Almeida
Pablo Carvalho and Tais Almeida are two Brazilian artists who, in their essence, exhale, emanate and radiate a condition of "Brazilianness". Whether it is the often precarious working conditions, or the daily and systemic violence in Brazil, to be an artist in Brazil is to suffer in paradise, where the border between glory and maximum stress is very dim. However, or perhaps because of this, Brazil is one of the most vibrant countries in terms of art. Only oppressed populations can see things in certain ways, express themselves in certain ways, live in certain ways. The Brazilian filmmaker converts the lack of light into a filter; the Brazilian dancer turns injury into a step; the Brazilian musician turns noise into melody; and maybe this duo from Cavalcanti, try to make from all this, a Berro, a scream from the entrails. Berro is also an artistic project that arises from the encounter of two artists that live in Rio's North Zone, from their relationships with art–mainly with dance and music–and from the crossing of their artistic and life references.
Using witch technologies, artists Tracy Tidgwell, Allyson Mitchell, and Deirdre Logue co-created a meadow-sized pentacle in the tall grass of an old, overcultivated farm field at the Feminist Art Retreat (FAR) on Indigenous lands long subject to settler colonialist occupation in rural Ontario. As a walking meditation, offering, and spell, the pentacle moves participants through a sensory, relational flow along the five points of the pentagram dedicated to ‘love’, ‘connection’, ‘grief’, ‘accountability’, ‘healing’, and along the circumference of the star, as they redistribute soil and seeds of native plants. The pentagram extends from the synergy between modern witchcraft and decolonial strategies that are bound to the land, the self, the collective, liberation, and the beyond, and offers a mediation on care, intimacy, and the multi-dimensional ways that we can be and are together, even while faced with great tension and pain. For the PULSE residency, “Scenographies of Site-Writing & Critical Spatial Practices across the Americas,” Tracy Tidgwell will explore how the perimeter of the pentacle invokes the edge as a critical and spatial position and the “edgewalker” as a queer feminist form and practice.