relational, durational and community based performance artists


Victoria Stanton is a Montreal artist whose practice includes relational activities that engages the public at various events, in particular arts festivals. Her performance are executed in a non-formal manner, where her audience is not necessarily seated or positioned as a ‘spectator’, but where they are an integral part of the unfolding of the piece and its meaning. In her work she expands the notion of art to include conversations and interactions with people where we would not normally view them as her audience in small where he has created the fictitious ‘Bank of Victoria’ in 2001 ( in which she is the CEO offering consulting on money issues of a broad conceptual nature. She is also a critical writer and has published books. One performance that caught my attention is that prepares cake or cupcakes and roves through the site offering the treat to her audience. This work came to her in response to her own food intolerances and by serving her audience cake she is able to enjoy these desserts vicariously and explore nuances of eating and indulgences. As people feed each other and eat with their hands they become part of this playful and interactive art piece that has been performed at many events since 2001. She bakes specific cakes and wears special outfits that fit the occasion. I found myself drawn to this work particularly for various reasons. Firstly, I also love cake yet I too suffer from food intolerances. After finally accepting that fact in 2003, I started a cathartic, yet comical healing process occasionally take on an alter ego, Cosmic Cupcake and feed people cupcakes at various events in celebration and recognition of sweet indulgences, of which I cannot fully partake. It is said, that if you have a brilliant idea, it is only because someone thought of it first and is already doing it. How many people in this world love cake, cannot eat it, so they make it a personal mission to bake it, where a fancy dress and serve to others so that they can personally still enjoy it?

“Let them eat cake.”
Marie Antionnette,

Perhaps these wise words had been misinterpreted.

Paul Couillard was born 1961 in New Brunswick and became a performance artist in the 1980s after quitting his government civil servant job. He is a writer, multi-media and performance artist who also is an arts organizer and curator. His work explores the body and its sensations, cultural and social identity and notions of shared universal experience. He has played a seminal role in performance art, particularly in eastern Canada and co-founded the performance art organization FADO in 1993 where he acts as art director. In Toronto, 1999 he curated a twelve month long series of durational performance art works by artists from the UK, US and Canada called TIME, TIME,TIME. The works ranged from 12 hrs to several days as artists expressed themselves through endurance, community-building, public/ private boundaries, ritual and transformation over the year leading up to the new millennium. His own piece, Trace Elements, was a 24 hr performance involving ritual and installation including spice stained fabrics done on Dec 21, the final day of the festival, that fell on Winer Solstice that.

Couillard seems to be a man that is passionate about enabling the expanding notion of what performance and experimental art is. His artist practice includes not only making performance art, but also creating frameworks for artists and audiences to connect and share in the collective experience of being the multi-layered human.

Paula Jardine has been one of the most influential community artists working in western Canada. She was born near Edmonton in 1956 has worked in Toronto, Vancouver and the Island. She began the idea of Public Dreams in Edmonton before bringing it to Vancouver where she conceived of the ideas for the lantern festivals Illuminaries and the Parade of the Lost Souls, among other celebratory events. She was also the first Vancouver community centre resident artist in 1994 with the Trout lake Resortoration project. Her most recent ongoing community festival is the Night of all Souls, at Mountain View Cemetary in Vancouver. This festival reflects a great deal of research and compassion with regards to death, vigils and grieving.
The work of Paula has had a large impact on my own work both directly and indirectly and I hold a great deal of respect for her. In 1994 she came and spoke at Emily Carr when I was a very young art student and she made a great impression on me of the possibilities of community based art. When I returned to Canada after living abroad for a few years I volunteered for Public Dreams seeking her out, only to find she had left the organization and moved to the island. Since then I have had the pleasure of working with many profound artists who had Paula has an instrumental force in their lives. She is a mentor of mentors, and far more than just an artist, she is a magician who inspires and unites the community spirit through art, ritual and celebration.


One Response to “relational, durational and community based performance artists”

  1. Genevieve Cloutier Says:

    thanks for posting Canadian works Jen. I appreciate it. I love learning about Canadian art.

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