Vancouver Performance Art 2007 Live Biennale

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Fifth Biennale goes ‘public’
by Stuart Derdeyn
The Province
October 10, 2007

As the executive director and curator of the 2007 LIVE Performance Art Biennale, Randy Gledhill hopes to bring this immensely popular form to the public [October 11-28, 2007 in Vancouver].


In fact, “public” is the theme for the 18-day festival.

“Public means for us to try to bring our performance art to people outside of our normal art-going audience,” says Gledhill. “The theme of ‘public’ affords us occasion to examine performance art both locally and globally.

“This is art that describes the world we live in and its relation to community, identity, activism, social change and anything that we allow the curators to interpret the way that they want.”

In other words, the fifth edition of Canada’s largest event of this kind is all about diversity and an intriguing array of presentations.

Among personal favourites is the Contemporary Art Gallery’s RSVP (Oct. 19, 22, 24 and 28). Curated by Germaine Koh, this is a series of sit-down dinners at different locations where the actual topics discussed around the table become an artistic expression of the way that social gathering, networking and civil affairs are, at some level, a kind of performing.

Heady stuff. But also really fun, and usually with a clear point and purpose.

“Performance art isn’t a fringe activity. We’re not looking at how to become street performers, but how to present challenging topics in unique ways,” says Gledhill.

“Something that happened in recent years, since the advent of the Internet, is that performance art has become part of the language of protest and activism. Very savvy, young artists are reinventing the form in a way that is much more relational and a lot less spectacle.”

This likely depends on your point of view. Most would consider William Hunt performing original acoustic rock songs suspended upside-down from the ceiling at Presentation House Gallery (Saturday, 7 p.m.) a spectacle. At least enough so that you might not pick up on his point of “how the conventions and effects of popular music and its performance through the solitary figure of the singer-songwriter” occurs.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do is to re-brand this form to make it more publicly accessible. Someone like William Hunt plays on the same arena as pop culture, but is free of its traditions and really in your face.

“I have great respect for people [who] use their considerable intelligence to get it.”

Test your wits against some of the international and local artists presenting their craft over the next few weeks.

This weekend’s opening gala at the Patricia Hotel on Saturday at 9 p.m. is a great place to start (Tickets: $10, $5). Or keep your eyes open for something unusual going on around town. Say, Todd Janes’ Iron Man (TBA), where he’s doing domestic work such as sweeping and ironing in the middle of a parking lot.