Luciana Fortes and Ghinwa Yassine are Too Much Collective and the piece they are creating for Shooting Gallery Performance Series is their debut work as a collective. Both artists are in their first year of the Masters of Interdisciplinary Arts at SFU, where they immediately connected over their shared experiences with displacement and the desire for connection in their newly adopted home of Vancouver. Their piece “Warm” is an investigation into the act of giving to a place and an audience, using improvisation, playfulness and their respective research into clowning and autobiographical art.
Luciana Fortes is a Brazilian artist from Rio de Janeiro where she trained as a dancer. Her childhood was split between Brazil and Calgary, and she completed her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College outside Philadelphia. Despite her training as a dancer, she is not interested in being married to any one form, stating that idea is what dictates the medium of the piece. Since beginning her Masters at SFU, her interests have turned to theatre, clowning, comedy, fragmentation and displacement. Her work questions how our body can be a map for identity and ones own sense of space.
Ghinwa Yassine is an anti-disciplinary artist from Beirut who also works as a graphic designer, which she says helps her see space and layout as a grid. She has a Masters in Digital Video Design where she focused on Video and Installation Art , but she does not see herself as existing within any one discipline. The thread that carries through her work is narrative and story, and it is mostly autobiographical. Her current work centres on relational autobiography, and how we weave personal stories together; for Ghinwa, relational autobiographical work is a way to create universal healing.
Luciana and Ghinwa’s working relationship flows very naturally and they have a deep trust in one another; this trust enables them to share both positive and negative feedback. “For me, collaboration, it means trust, and that resolves everything. If I trust where the comment is coming from, I don’t mind any comment and I just know how to be with the other person” says Ghinwa. They both acknowledge that they each have different strengths and expertise, and can defer to each other’s specific technical knowledge. Being from Arab and Latin cultures, of which there is a lot of crossover, they were often told they were “too much”, too dark, too loud or too chaotic, which created a sense of displacement for them within their respective cultures. This idea of displacement and the trauma this can create is at the heart of their work, and “Warm” brings together their shared traits of generosity, fun and playfulness to explore how one can make a home as a foreigner in a new place.
Luciana says “we both expressed a lot of struggle with Vancouver, but it’s kind of like a love/hate relationship, or your relationship with your Mother. Motherly warmth embraces and gives you so much opportunity, which is what Vancouver has done for us…sometimes there is harsh criticism, but in the end it is still in your benefit”, and for her this is at the core of the piece. Ghinwa often feels like a foreigner, having lived in many different cities, so she is used to not feeling at home. “I feel like when you leave home, where you spent your teenage years, I feel that you will never find home again. For me that’s ok, this uncertain place that I am getting comfortable living in” she says. The pace of Vancouver is something that the artists have been influenced by; “the rhythm here is very slow and we are so fast, so how do you negotiate that? That’s kind of what warm is too…hot is too much, warm is like…you are warming up to people, you are warming up to the place, it’s a transitional state too” says Luciana. This idea of warmth relates to connection, and their piece strives to create space to make connections by integrating movement, text, video and installation, while allowing for improvisation and audience participation. Their hope is that the audience will walk away feeling like they experienced something pleasant, something warm, a real connection.
Luciana and Ghinwa are currently developing workshops in Autobiographical Art through Text and Movement. They will be presenting their brand new work “Warm” for Shooting Gallery at Left of Main on March 28, 29 and 30.