SGPS #11 Guest curated by Olivia C. Davies (Anishinaabe)
Digital performances that can be completed by April 3rd, 2022.
Livestream, video, interactive website, something else, you tell us!
Open to all forms of Contemporary and Neo-Traditional Indigenous storyweaving, dance, theatre, and/or hybrid performance art. This is an opportunity to explore ideas in the beginning stages of creation. Priority is given to new ideas, experimentation in movement and interdisciplinary performance, adventurous and interesting uses of digital platforms. The call is open to self-identified Indigenous artists based in Canada.
Deadline for applications: January 20th, 2022
Selected artists will receive a performance fee, curatorial / production support, and rehearsal space (based on availability).
To apply, please send a short bio or artistic statement, a brief description of the proposed piece including approximate length and two links to recent works to email@example.com with ‘Shooting Gallery Submission’ in the subject line.
Submissions are open to: -Indigenous artists at any stage of their career -works of any length
We provide: -artist fee -individualized production/documentation support -free rehearsal space (for artists based in Vancouver, BC) -promotional support and online presentation -mentorship if requested (not mandatory)
***Work must be interdisciplinary or experimental in nature
Curatorial criteria based on the quality of previous work, unique vision, a range of aesthetic viewpoints, and Indigenous artists whose work is underrepresented within the Canadian arts community.
In an abandoned lot, in small town Québec- close to the collective’s shared studio space – I meet with the founding members of Collectif P.S., Pet and Sauce, to talk about the debut of their new web series De la benne à l’assiette, which will see its debut at Shooting Gallery Performance Serie #10.
Together, under the guise of artists, members of the Collectif P.S. take part in activities that are not typically seen as socially acceptable in order to explore subjects that to many may be considered taboo. Their work often revolves around the idea of disguise: Is one taking on a persona during an artistic performance or is it not rather in these moments that we can be truer to ourselves, freer to live outside of societal expectations?
Inspired by artists such as Miranda July, Faith Ringgold and Olivier Chevrette, the collective has an eclectic way of creating and presenting stories through performances, installations, drawings and photo/video works. Through humour, puns, ‘Frenglish’, Lo-Fi aesthetics, GIFs, Memes and a web blog, P.S. uses the absurd to start conversations about waste abundance, social equity and the role of the consumer. As we talk, I have the feeling that I too may be playing the role of someone else.
INRI: Let’s get right into it, why create a web series of all things?
Sauce: We needed a new platform for our artistic projects. We had recently started playing around with internet-based art, more specifically an interactive blog. We had talked about doing performances with alternative selves and we wanted to incorporate the idea of creating another self that is only possible through the sort of anonymity that the digital world allows. For this reason we choose to use digital platforms as a medium in itself and not only as a way to diffuse video art.
Pet: Our identity as artists is important in the web series as the notion of identity is integral to our reflections about blurring the boundaries between art and life. We often question if it is not during an artist performance that we are most free to play our true selves.
Sauce: And of course we thought creating a web series would be fun.
INRI: Is that why you wear masks?
Pet: Yes. And we want to show how in a way everyone hides behind a certain kind of mask. Even more so when we are thinking of our lives with regards to technology. We hide behind our cell phones and computer screens while curating a version of ourselves to share with the rest of the world.
Sauce: We strive to dance on the line between acting anonymously and embracing who we are as we take part in these compromising acts. If not we would have created avatars and have zero IRL presences.
INRI: Compromising acts?!? Talk to me about the subject of this web series.
Sauce: It’s a cooking show.
INRI: Oook, what is particularly new or interesting about this cooking show?
Pet: All the food is found in the garbage.
INRI: That’s disgusting!
Pet: No, sincerely, it’s not. Until you see it, you can’t really imagine all the perfectly edible food, sometimes past the best before date but still good, often in the package and obviously thrown away because another shipment has come in. The part that is disgusting is seeing that we live in a culture of continual waste based on a capitalist system that benefits few and disrespects and harms most.
INRI: Right… Where does the garbage food come from? Sauce: It comes from dumpsters outside of restaurants and grocery stores mostly.
Rummaging through the trash is so much more sexy when called dumpster diving.
Gental Petals, set in stone hold lit columns of wax, pillars of light. Not Doric Iconic or Corinthian, no, more like the pilar that is the torch carried by reckless refusal and desperation. Through clenched teeth, taught jaws we guide the light through the motions of a dance, though motions of exchange. Innocence set aflame as Eyes, Feet, Knees and Elbow balance fire by bone and weight.
A collection of documented dreams, images and scores from the last year and a half of this project. Images / drawings by Francesca Frewer + myself.
The feeling of grief was total
I befriend a mycelial network from space that allows me to, with the touch of my hand, power a train. The befriending was more of a becoming. A scene in a dark spaceship with the network lit up allowing me to see all things all time and me, but the feeling of my comrades onboard being destroyed by the joining. Later on earth, people on the train are suspicious when they see me touch the windowsill and the train moves forward. Later, in the same dreamworld, I’m getting ready at a kind of residency with TC and NG, we’re going out for dinner or some kind of presenter event. T is practicing a song, her voice is beautiful. N and I are trying on outfits. Someone wants to take a photo of me and my husband, nameless (actually maybe Tom?) bland face kind of guy, I think it’s because he’s an alien/immortal. I take his hand for the photo op and something flakes off, I realize it’s the fake scab I’ve placed on his hand to make him seem more human like he gets injured. The mycelium has made us alien/immortal.
The evil mother meets me on jefferson avenue
she is recognizable by her daughters’ used piece of pizza
faces, melting. She knows what I have done and has done it too
my shame is seared by her pepperoni look.
We had popped those kids’ heads off like barbies,
rolled them around the artscape gibraltar point studio.
Christopher House enjoyed punting the baby blonde head of
my childhood friend before I noticed
the security cams and prayed
for annihilation before the leak could end my career.
Not so, 10 years later
lined up on the soccer field in uniforom
the admonishing daughters of pizza behold me
The sound of birds like a carpet of flowers. Not like, it was. Stunningly beautiful, resplendent, almost too much. Also crystalline. It meant something about how I was or am supposed to direct my energy towards what matters. (what matters)?
I’m at a wedding reception/some kind of conference and I’m yelling over the din for people to name (a la Don Hanlon Johnson) all the ways they’ve been told to control their bodies by parents, society, etc. I’m yelling maybe into a mic? “Sit up straight!” “Don’t Slouch!” “elbows off the table!” “Strong handshake”!. Nobody is listening.
When I was approached to create a blogpost for Shooting Gallery Performance Series #10, I spent a long time considering what I could write about. How could I use a blog post to disseminate, in a way, my thoughts and feelings behind WERK OUT and how it came about. Being a Newfoundlander, I, like my ancestors before me, tend to spin long tales when recounting tales of the past Therefore, instead of focusing on theory, I thought I would recount how my alter ego came to be and how I came up with WERK OUT.
THE BIRTH OF TQM
WERK OUT is a part of my Queer Mummer series, an alter ego I created that blends the Newfoundland folk tradition of mummering with the queer art of drag. Mummering is a Halloween-like practice that occurs around the Christmas holidays in Newfoundland and originates from the British Isles. Participants, often called mummers or jannys, disguise themselves from head-to-toe and travel door-to-door in the neighbourhood, where neighbours invite them in and provide food and drink while the mummers perform and try not to reveal their disguises. After their disguises are revealed, the mummers then depart for the next home. These disguises are created with items found around the home, including doilies, curtains, and beer boxes. It’s also common to see people disguised as another gender, where you would commonly see “the man of the house” dressed as an elderly woman, bra and all.
My interest with mummering stemmed from my own explorations with drag: while completing my masters at the University of Saskatchewan, I started to perform in drag at the local gay bar. I found a new art medium that, honestly, resonated due to the years of internalized homophobia and externalized homophobia I experienced growing up in Newfoundland. Drag was a way for me to reclaim my sissy-ness, to reclaim the femininity that my culture had tried to wane me out of me since my earliest years.
After a summer trip back to the island that resulted in both my outing as both queer and a drag performer, I felt that I needed to find a way to relate drag, as an artform, to my kin. And that’s where mummering came in – why can we celebrate this queer practice of dressing in sheets, distorting our bodies and genders for enjoyment, while drag is looked down upon with harmful, stereotypical preconceived notions? It was with this realization that The Queer Mummer (TQM for short)was born.
BACK ON THE ROCK
After coming to this realization, I would go on to create 8 Queer Mummer characters throughout the last year of my MFA, crocheting them as I taught myself through an endless playlist of Youtube tutorials. After defending my thesis to my advisors and exhibiting the work, I packed up my things and headed back to Newfoundland with my parents, where I knew I would feel the all-too-familiar pressure to act masculine, to be perceived as heterosexual as to not upset public morals. Soon I would feel the glare of my mother, eyes locked at my painted nails. If how I dressed and acted in public was to be policed, then I needed to find a way to discuss this issue in the public. I began brainstorming ideas, applying for whatever opportunity that came my way both to show my work and to also get me off the rock that I grew up on. A taste of a free, queer life on the mainland was just enough needed to want return. Luckily, my work as The Queer Mummer was taking off in Newfoundland at the same time, being awarded the Cox & Palmer Pivotal Point Grant a few months after arriving back home. Through the Pivotal Point Grant I was able to continue building upon TQM, crocheting even more complex costumes and characters.
Around this time, I would also begin to explore performing outside the black box of the gay bar stage, first in gallery spaces like Grenfell Art Gallery and Acadia University Art Gallery, then expanding to public spaces. At first, these performances heavily referenced the type of lip sync performances now seen in gay bars around the world thanks to the proliferation of drag through television shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, We Are Here, and Dragula.
A BIT ON NEWFOUNDLAND AND STEREOTYPES
Despite the good press Newfoundlanders get from the Broadway show Come From Away, they aren’t always as nice as they appear to be. I feel like this portrayal of Newfoundlanders as friendly and accepting goes against my own lived experiences of growing up as an outsider, both because my last name was too French or because of my queerness. Harmful stereotypes have haunted Newfoundlanders for decades, being labeled as goofy Newfies or being used as the butt of a Stupid Newfie joke. However, I feel that this newer stereotype, the one of the friendly Newfie, is much more insidious in some ways.
Up until the late nineties, schools in Newfoundland were still separated based on religion: Protestants went to one school while Catholics went to another. These historical settler tensions have long been present on the island, even going as far as to affect political life. With this religious fervour comes the homophobia, and it persist to this day. I recall just a few years ago working on an art project with my fellow classmates during my BFA when a car strolled by, windows rolled down, with the driver leaning their head out of the window just to shout, “FAG!”, at my fellow out classmate. Around the same time, an out worker at the university would have their vehicle vandalized, the same work scrawled on the side of the car from the point of a key. These are just a few mild examples, however they clearly do not line up with the stereotypical friendly Newfie.
Growing up on the island, there wasn’t many events that I could recall that explicitly were queer and publicized. One queer public event I do recall, however, was when workout icon Richard Simmons came to Newfoundland to rock his socks off on The Rock. While I did not personally attend this event, I remember the buzz around town. For some reason, Richard’s visit to Newfoundland always stuck to me like a Swarovski crystal glued with E6000. People were ecstatic that this famous Hollywood star was coming to our little province, even despite his femininities.
Wanting to queer public space in some way or another, I remembered about this performance one day while putting together performance ideas for HOLD FAST, a performance art festival held every year Eastern Edge, an artist-run centre in St. John’s. I would quickly put pen to paper and design an 80s workout-inspired mummer, designing handmade sweat bands, shorts, crop tops, and leg warmers. During this time, I was introduced to the work of Rough Trade, the late 70s-early 80s Canadian band led by Carole Pope, through a YouTube deep dive. I was instantly hooked, falling in love with Pope’s lesbian lyricism. I would soon discover their record Weapons in my father’s record collection and sneak it into my own. Having felt like an amazing band was being forgotten by their own community, I felt that Rough Trade would make the perfect background music for my Richard Simmons workout, thus I began to create unique workouts for a few of their classics.
Months later, I would learn that my proposal would be accepted into HOLD FAST 2019. In September 2019, I would perform my even queered Richard Simmons-inspired workout in Bannerman Park in Downtown St John’s. With the help of two background dancers (a huge thanks to Bailey MacPhee and Santiago Guzman), Pearly Curly, the 80s workout mummer, would go on to teach three 20-minute dance classes. While a bit rusty and needing a bit of editing, I felt that I had finally found a public performance for TQM.
And then, the pandemic hit.
OFF THE ROCK
Much like everyone else, COVID-19 halted my career for a good moment. What was more frustrating was the fact that at this point, I was starting to perform more and more in public space. So how could I disseminate my work when we’re all locked up inside?
Through some miracle, I interviewed for and was hired at Struts Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick. I had visited prior to the pandemic to perform in A Handmade Assembly 2019, my last performance event before the pandemic, and had fallen in love with the area. I packed my things and moved during the summer, crossing provincial borders before the Atlantic Bubble popped. Working at Struts gave me access to plenty of video and audio gear I couldn’t get my hands on in rural Newfoundland, and I needed to learn how to use it all for my job. I would quickly put together a video version of a performance I did in Port Union, NL, in the summer of 2019, playing off of the history of drag and vaudeville, and the removal of the mummer disguise. Meet Ze Mummer, 2020, sparked an idea for a solution to my live performance problems: I could edit and record my previous performances, stylizing them like an old kids TV show. From there, I began to put together my first Canada Council for the Arts grant, which I am thankful to have received. I would go on to film WERK OUT, first learning how to produce music in Logic Pro X and then covering some of the Rough Trade songs that I had fell in love with. I would crochet two new outfits for my background dancers and perform them myself with the aid of green screen. Of course, with my luck, the days that I needed to record the mummer portions of the video were cursed with heat waves, making it almost unbearable in the costume. Even my special anti-perspirant concoction wore off, sweat breaking the barrier made by layers and layers of costume makeup. The resulting product is a 12-minute video filled with spread eagles, hip thrusts, and bent wrists.
I want to use these last words to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, Cox & Palmer, and Struts Gallery for all the help with this project. It’s with your help that I’m able to envision such weird things. And a special thank you to the Shooting Gallery Performance Series, Robert Avezedo, Julianna Chapple, and Cailtin Brown for inviting me to be a part of this great event.
“An archipelago of over 7,000 islands in the South Pacific so beautiful, so rich in natural resources, it became perpetual spoils of war.”
March 16, 1521. Spanish colonizers feel Philippine sand for the first time.
One hundred years of colonization.
Two hundred years of colonization.
Three hundred years of colonization.
Sa bundok ang tahanan
Doon mararanasan ang hirap ng katawan
Walang unan, walang kumot, walang banig sa pagtulog
Inuunan pa ay ang gulok abanseng katakut-takot!
Alerta katipunan bathin ang kahirapan
Pag-ibayuhin ang tapang kahit mamatay sa laban
Layon natin ay itaguyod, baya’y tubusin at itampok
Hayo na’t tayo’y makipaghamok, abanseng katakut-takot!”
August 23, 1896. The Cry of Pugad Lawin, and the emergence of the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan,orKatipunan. A spark which begins the anti-colonial, workers-and-peasants-led Revolution of 1896.
…with successive victories of the people, undone by capitulation and the surrender of Filipino “leaders”. A first of many to come.
December 10, 1898. Concurrent with the retreat of the weakening Spanish colonizers, Spain discretely sells the Philippines for a sum total of $20,000,000 to the United States, under the Treaty of Paris.
“I put a spell on you
Because you’re mine
Stop the things you do
I ain’t lying”
The 25th President of the United States, William McKinley, in 1900, passionately states his concerns and “Explains His Attitude Towards the Philippines”.
“When next I realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps, I confess I did not know what to do with them. I sought counsel from all sides – Democrats as well as Republicans – but got little help. I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; then other islands, perhaps, also.
I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed to Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way – I don’t know how it was, but it came:
1. That we could not give them back to Spain – that would be cowardly and dishonorable;
2. That we could not turn them over to France or Germany, our commercial rivals in the Orient-that would be bad business and discreditable;
3. That we could not leave them to themselves – they were unfit for self-government, and they would soon have anarchy and misrule worse than Spain’s was; and
4. That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.
And then I went to bed and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department (our map-maker), and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States[pointing to a large map on the wall of his office], and there they are, and there they will stay while I am President.”
This voice echoes onward, onward, with tendrils that reach and coil and grasp at the roots of all 7,641 islands to this day. This voice, dissonant, cold, clashing and antagonistic to the voices of the Filipino masses. This voice, a century-long command, carries out its orders repeatedly, to this day.
The Philippine-American War, 1899 – 1902. A historically-discrete genocide enacted by the United States, with over 250,000 murdered Filipino civilians.
Four hundred years of colonization.
The Pearl of the Orient. A century of shifting hands, of bastardized “ownership”. The non-consensual gift that keeps on giving.
suppression of criticism,
anti-people judicial systems,
insurmountable national debt,
enabled and encouraged by the leaders of the nation,
for retention of power,
The local ruling class, or; the dogs of the imperialist lords, or; the Cerberus of the Philippines – whose many heads serve only their relentless hunger and the bottomless, violent, insatiable desires of their masters.
Familiar bodies are packaged and transported like fruits for imperial export.
Familial bodies are packaged and transported like fruits for imperialist profit and exploit.
Families and fruits are packaged and transported for consumption.
Five hundred years of colonization.
“I hear a new world (I hear a new world)
Calling me (calling me)
So strange and so real (so strange and so real)
Haunting me (haunting me)
How can I tell her? (How can I tell her?)
What’s in store for me? (What’s in store for me?)
I hear a new world (I hear a new world)
Calling me (calling me)”
“We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror. But the royal terrorists, the terrorists by the grace of God and the law, are in practice brutal, disdainful, and mean, in theory cowardly, secretive, and deceitful, and in both respects disreputable.”
“We are tribeless and all tribes are ours.
We are homeless and all homes are ours.
We are nameless and all names are ours.
To the fascists we are the faceless enemy
Who come like thieves in the night, angels of death:
The ever moving, shining, secret eye of the storm.
The road less traveled by we’ve taken-
And that has made all the difference:
The barefoot army of the wilderness
We all should be in time. Awakened, the masses are Messiah.
Here among workers and peasants our lost
Generation has found its true, its only home.”
We will not stop until we win. Our goal is equality. No exploiter, no oppressor. That is the foundation of our life. To my people: Your fight is not over.