Sep. 05, 2012 - Issue #881: Sex 2012
Living in an urban centre with thousands of people around at any given moment does not always make a person exempt from feeling a little bit lonely from time to time.
Over the course of six days, Edmonton's annual Visualeyez performance art festival will examine loneliness in all its facets, from notions of isolation to emptiness and intimacy in our interactions with the urban environment.
"You can be amongst without being with," says Victoria-based performance artist Tanya Doody, who will be engaging strangers in a piece simply titled Can I Buy You A Coffee? She has not announced where the interactions will be taking place, but didn't imagine it as an engagement that would require onlookers. Each is arranged individually via email, and at a time that suits their schedule.
A call for participation was put out for Doody's piece, which states that surprising things can happen while among strangers. Whether the invitation is accepted out of curiosity, the allure of the temptation of a potentially creative encounter outside of everyday routine, or a simple caffeine craving, Doody is open to the possibilities. She hopes to foster a sense of newfound intimacy amongst strangers, rather than the shielded ways they go about their days, glued to cell phones and other technology. People can interact with anyone, at any time, anywhere, but are not being present in their reality.
"We cut off the potential for new encounters that happen with people who are not in our clique or our contact list in our phones. I find that to be kind of sad, and it happens a lot," she notes. "A lot of my work is about breaking out of routine and how we can do that and live a more creative life and have that kind of energy that allows for openness, that things can happen outside of what is usual and that's a good thing. I find this piece proposes a creative solution maybe to loneliness."
The concept of loneliness may seem melancholy, but Visualeyez founder and creative director Todd Janes feels it is a poignant aspect of society to examine, particularly with the influx of technology in today's day and age.
"As the big, kind of blue, squishy planet gets smaller in terms of technology or how we relate to each other, I thought it was fairly topical. For me as a person, I really cherish my alone time, but I think being alone is quite different than being lonely," Janes notes. "I thought, 'Is Edmonton the type of place where you can feel lonely in a crowd?' I'm not sure we're quite there because I think in many ways, Edmonton is small communities really spread out and I wanted to explore that too, because it's about looking at loneliness on a personal level, but also at a psychological level and how we connect with others."
Performances will examine facets of loneliness in ways that allow artists to engage in each other's artistic processes, which Janes believes is just as crucial as artists engaging with viewers. He compares the interaction between artists at Visualeyez to the side stages of the Edmonton Fringe Festival, where artists are free to jam together and play off one another's ideas. Janes says some artists may take a darker approach to the idea of loneliness, while others take a more uplifting one. Either way they choose, it creates engagement and raises questions.
"It's about putting that out there and utilizing art as the beginning of a conversation between other people," he says.
Mon, Sep 10 – Sun, Sep 16
Latitude 53, downtown Edmonton
Full schedule at visualeyez.org vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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