Getting to know – Gavin Law

1) Describe your favourite experience performing as an artist?

So far – this solo honestly! Being able to eat and interact with audience members while being completely myself is liberating!

2) How was moving to Toronto affected your career so far?
I’ve gained a lot of perspective, not just in dance, but in all aspects of my life. Vancouver felt like a bit of an insular bubble – I feel like Toronto is much more reflective of the global community and how people interact with one another.
3) What is your favourite guilty pleasure snack?
Lays Sour Cream & Onion Chips.
4) What anime/cartoon series you love to watch?
Currently – Ace of Diamond & Food Wars. Classics include Inuyasha, Naruto, Bleach, Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Haikyuu.
5) Who is your inspiration for dance and movement?
Too many to name but personally, the folks I dance with in Nostos Collectives are all inspiring and have pushed me in ways I can’t even count. I definitely wouldn’t be the dancer I am now if it wasn’t for them.
6) What is your favourite spot to chill in Vancouver?
Crab Park!

 

 

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Getting to know – Gavin Law

Getting to Know – Courtenay Mayes and Chloe Richardson

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1) How did the two of you meet? What were your first impressions of each other?

Chlo: blind tiger improv. i liked her coat but i never told her. we locked eyes and the kook in me saw the kook in her.

Co: I really liked that Chloe came to class either literally crying or mid-panic attack. I just related to her instantly.

2) Who is an artist/artwork that you take inspiration from?

Chlo: yorgos lanthimos <33333 and watching the general public. the liveliness, oddities, and interactions leading up to the decision to expose themselves.

Co: I like Bridget Moser.

 

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3) What’s your number 1 song on repeat?

Chlo: rhythm of the night – debarge.

Co: love on the brain – Gigamesh remix – Rihanna

4) Describe the last meal you two shared together?

Chlo: caveman cafe and the saddest spinach salad you’ve ever seen from the remnants of my cupboard.

Co: I like that my friends force me to eat green things because my diet is mostly beige.

5) What TV/Netflix series are you watching these days?

Chlo: portlandia and explained.

Co: I haven’t watched TV since I was 13!

6) What is a “power move” for you?

Chlo: Nude and new on top of a mountain

Co: Saying no! And this thing I can do with my hips 😛

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Getting to Know – Courtenay Mayes and Chloe Richardson

Getting to Know – Elliott Sukorokoff

1) What does performing as an artist mean to you?

Performing as an artist allows me to use all of my interest in the fine arts in a way that expresses trauma and aspects of my life I need to work through. I use visual art, music and spoken word to convey these themes.

2) Who are some of your favourite artists/artworks?

My favourite artists include Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, Cindy Sherman, Cecelia Condit, and Ana Mendieta . I take a lot of inspiration from women who make art with feminist themes and subversive means of expressing them (i.e. macabre content and dark humour).

3) Who is your guilty pleasure when listening to music?

Firstly, I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I like what I like freely and unhindered. But to keep on point, lately I’ve been listening to Beetlejuice the Musical on repeat, I guess?

4) What books are you reading these days?

I just recently finished the Miseducation of Cameron Post, and I’ve been reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Ivan Coyote’s Tomboy Survival Guide. I love lesbian literature and vampires, so they go hand in hand.

5) What animal or creature best describes you?

I’d be a Poitou donkey because I’m stubborn, smart, and diligent! Plus they have really big fluffy ears and are so curly and cute.

6) Describe your favourite meal.

My favourite meal is coconut curry stir fry with extra broccoli!
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Getting to Know – Elliott Sukorokoff

Getting to Know – FakeKnot with Ralph Escamillan and Daria Mikhaylyuk

1) How did the two of you meet? What drawn you to work with each other?

At blends
D – he liked my red hat
R – I liked her red hat

2) What is your all-time favourite performance you have seen?

D – the MET gala
R – Vader – Peeping Tom

3) Who are some musicians/artists you listen to when rehearsing?

D – whatever Ralph is listening to
R – Prince

4) What is your guilty pleasure TV/Netflix show?

D – Sabrina
R – I was in that

5) Where is the best place you have travelled to? and why?

D – Canada – dance is good
R – Japan – Ramen

6) What foods do you eat before and after performing?

D – citrus anything
R – Ramen
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Getting to Know – FakeKnot with Ralph Escamillan and Daria Mikhaylyuk

Getting to know – Chipo Chipaziwa

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1. Who are some of your favourite artists/artworks?

Some of my favourite artists are Hans Haacke, Pope L., Adrian Piper, John Baldessari, David Hammons, and Guadalupe Martinez: I tend to be drawn to artists who create performative works, conceptual art and pieces which address identity politics.

2. Describe your best memorable experience while studying at UBC.

My best memorable experience whilst studying at UBC would probably be the late nights / early mornings where me and my friends were at the Audian studios discussing our processes and ideas for upcoming projects. It was during those moments I realized that having a community, being in relation to others, is a pivotal part of my artistic practice.

2. Name your favourite food(s).

My favourite foods are my mother’s lasagna, MeeT’s calamari, and fruit snacks.

4) What is your guilty pleasure music artist to listen to?

My guilty pleasure musical artist I listen to is honestly the Jonas Brothers. I used to obsessed with Joe Jonas in middle school and I have been hearing some of their new material here and there and I actually enjoy it!

 

5) What TV/Netflix shows you are binge watching these days?

Recently I have been watching Neon Genesis Evangelion on Netflix. It is an anime and I do not know if I can describe it anymore beyond that. It has a compelling storyline and I am still working my way through it –  I will say this though, it can go to some dark places! Another series I have been watching is Abstract: The Art of Design. I want to hear people’s stories, and their interests and this documentary series takes a thoughtful approach in how it introduces you to various fields and ways of thinking / doing.

6) You recently went to New York, which area was most inspirational to you?

In New York, I would say there was not any one place in particular which was the most inspirational to me – what was the most inspirational to me was the people I engaged with – whether it be old high school friends or new friends I made during a night out, the process of connecting with others with the sole intent to be together is honestly what inspires me.

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Getting to know – Chipo Chipaziwa

Meet the Curator: Antonio Somera Jr.

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Antonio Somera Jr. is a quirky character, robust space-eater, and a nimble cat-lover from Vancouver, Canada.  He enjoys participating in street dance and contemporary dance events and enjoys having a drink or two with friends.  As an dance artist, Antonio interprets works for local choreographers and companies such as, Julie Chapple/Future Leisure, Dancers Dancing, The Response Dance Company. and OURO Collective. Antonio is super excited to present this next Shooting Gallery Performance Series, and to share  these artists’ talents.

Here’s what Antonio has to say for this show:

“It’s going be an eclectic show, with many interdisciplinary pieces coming from dance, improv, visual artist, spoken word, and theatre! I wanted to bring different communities together in one space, and I believe these artists represent their own quite boldly.  Each artist I have selected has some sort of play and interactivity within their works. Whether it be interacting with the audience, f*cking up the space and objects, or playing with inner dialogue, these artists are pretty damn smart! and they are also awesome humans to chill with.  Expect to be weirded out and confused, and to experience a few chuckles here and there, but overall, it’ll be one hella fun night!”

 

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Meet the Artists – Lauren Marsden

Lauren Marsden is a “recovering performance artist” with roots in Trinidad who now acts as a collaborative director of her projects. She has a Visual Arts BFA from the University of Victoria and an MFA from CCA in Social Practice, and currently teaches at Emily Carr University. While she was a graduate student, performance began to take a more integral role in her work, whether she was making photographs, videos or collaborative works. There was a marked shift in her practice where she transitioned from being a performer to a director. She felt that she couldn’t get her performances to a level that she was satisfied with, and suffered from exhaustion and boredom with her own ideas. The isolation she felt with being the sole practitioner of her work began to wear on her, and as she matured as an artist she “wanted to expand my perspectives and my world…I didn’t want to only be dealing with my obsessions immediately with my body or my voice, so that led me to collaborate with other artists”. Lauren feels this shift allowed her to gain more control over the work, and has led her to bigger ideas and bigger projects.

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This way of working brings up questions around authorship, something that Lauren is very conscious of. In the film world, authorship around certain aspects of a work is very clearly defined, whereas contemporary artists don’t always give credit where credit it due. This is something that Lauren doesn’t agree with, and she “gives as much credit and authorship to my collaborators as I can, which is important to me, but then you still have to maintain control, so it’s a difficult balance”. As a former collaborator of Lauren’s on her project “Birds of Paradise”, I can attest to her ability to allow the performers the freedom to develop the work in a way that holds meaning and significance for us, while also maintaining a vision for the overall work. This is a skill she has honed over years of working this way, and for her new work for Shooting Gallery called Logo-man-see, she is collaborating with dancers Alyssa Amarshi and Sophia Gamboa to explore ways you can shape dance to text.

Logo-man-see is a phonetic spelling that means “The Power of Words”, and she is working with the dancers to develop new moves using a series of cultural appropriation terms that are trending online. The texts are the starting point of the work, and from those texts the dancers respond choreographically, drawing largely from Street Dance, although there are multiple styles of movement embodied in the work, all of them holding a local or cultural meaning. Lauren was initially inspired by the way that Dancehall moves are named, stating that they are “very literal, and there’s something so funny about that, and I wanted to take that approach that Dancehall takes, and bring it to a different context” says Lauren. She relies heavily on the dancers to develop the choreography, while she acts as a facilitator, giving prompts and encouraging the movements that work, all while maintaining control over the final piece and developing the visuals that will be projected behind the dancers as they perform. The piece uses online dance video tutorials as inspiration and structure, with the performers “teaching” the moves to the audience in much the same way that a dancer on Youtube would. The dancers “break down the move physically, but then also talk about why the movement is named the way it’s named, and what the relationship is between the title and the movement is”. The relationship between the heavy terms used as a starting point and the more playful moves that are being developed is at the core of the work; “I wanted to find a way to take those texts and not give them more power, but in a way transform their power or even take their power away by putting them through the body. That can make it funny, it can make it a commentary, it can also make it purely physical, almost to release it from it’s status…which I hope is not an unhealthy thing to do. But that’s one of the risks of this project” says Lauren.

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This tradition of using text to structure movement has been used by artists such as Tino Sehgal as well as Gerard and Kelly. Lauren is very conscious of the fact that many contemporary artists now use dancers in their work, which she often laments because she believes that a gallery is not the correct context for dance in most cases. Lauren feels that “dance needs to be treated respectfully in all cases, and there is so much that just isn’t ideal about museum and gallery venues” when presenting these types of works. In fact, she sometimes feels conflicted about working with dancers, but she has a dance background herself, which lends authenticity to her work. “I want to articulate that I am not just using dancers because it’s so compelling. I work with dancers because it’s the best medium for a particular idea. And then I might have another project that has no dancers at all…it’s not a thing that I will keep doing because I like it so much. It’s not always the ideal platform for an idea” she says.

Lauren allowed the dancers to choose the terms that resonated with them so that their movements would hold more meaning for them in their bodies. The dancers chose cultural appropriation terms, which she admits is a touchy subject because of “the internet…which has provided a platform for every type of voice…I think that it has really proliferated extreme progressive, radical and also conformist views…I think it’s become more complicated. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that now when you think of terms of cultural appropriation, everyone has an opinion about it and all those opinions are different”, which leads to a lot of conflict and shaming. With the proliferation of online dance videos, there is now a lot of visibility around this style of dance, but it also raises the question of who gets to make it. Lauren herself is from a mixed family, but her experiences as a white presenting woman are very different from those of the dancers, who are women of colour, and she is very conscious of this fact while exploring the sticky terrain of this piece. Lauren expressed that she was a bit nervous about exploring this topic because “it’s not really a topic that I would have chosen, but I did open the door to this topic. But I was glad that the dancers chose it, because I do think that it is a very current issue, and it isn’t being resolved through online chatter, it’s not going to be resolved through dance, but I feel like there is something meaningful about bringing it back down to earth and taking it offline. It might be funny, it might be shocking, we will see”. The reception of the piece will depend largely on the audience and the context of their own personal experiences, and this question of interpretation is an exciting facet of the work.

Alyssa and Sophia are members of Immigrant Lessons and Her Tribal roots, which are dance groups that are interested in their relationship to politics and place, which is why Lauren thought they would be perfect collaborators for her piece.

Come see Lauren Marsden’s new work Logo-man-see as part of Shooting Gallery Performance Series #7 at Left of Main on March 28, 29 and 30.

-Sydney Southam

Meet the Artists – Lauren Marsden