Socially (Sub)Conscious: Effects of the Performance Artist in Public Places

Wednesday, April 9, 2003 — 7:00pm
Nickle Gallieries

According to a functional model, artists’ activities are best understood as a relationship involving artist, artwork, and audience, the emphasis being on the latter’s role in completing the meaning of the work. Several MST performers are operating in public places, often integrating with their surroundings and consciously seeking to stimulate amused confusion. In such situations, meaning is as unstable as audiences are heterogeneous. Varying backgrounds, belief systems, and levels of contextual awareness all play a part in creating multiple and conflicting discourses concerning the significance of artists’ actions.

In many cases, it is a calculated gap between the artist’s performative persona and the expectations of the audience that furnishes performance with its most poignant meanings. Productive conflict may result not only from discrepancies in imagined functions for art, but also from deliberate attempts to elicit and reveal overlooked, but widely held beliefs, attitudes and values in society. The framing of performances – the publicizing or downplaying of their status as artistic events, for instance—will also affect the conditions of their reception.

This panel will focus on the meanings created by the dynamics between artist and audience, strategies artists use to manage conflict, issues surrounding the control of context, and the role of the institution within these paradigms.

John Dummett (London, UK)
Jean Francois Prost (Montreal, QC)
Stefan St. Laurent (Ottawa, ON)
Tammy McGrath (Regina, SK)

Moderator: Shelley Ouellet (Calgary, AB)

Jean-François Prost is a Montreal artist, architect and environmental designer who has presented his various exhibitions, interventions, architecture and design works in national and international venues and public spaces.

Tammy McGrath holds a BFA in Painting from the Alberta College of Art and Design and an MFA in Intermedia from the University of Regina. She is a multimedia artist and has taught studio arts at the University of Calgary and the Alberta College of Art & Design while also programming the Visual and Media Arts at the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts. She was the curator and co-creator of Soundasaurus: Multimedia Sound Art Festival in Calgary and has received numerous awards and grants. McGrath has written for local and national art publications and spearheaded/initiated projects such as the Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival and Space for Space in Calgary, AB. She volunteers for multiple non-profit art organizations, and has been a jury member for local/national granting agencies and art institutions. In her art practice, McGrath examines how truth is constructed and knowledge is retained and erased.

Working under the name of otiose, John Dummett has been active in the field of ‘live art’ since 1997, with work shown at the National Review of Live Art (Glasgow), the Root festival (Hull), YYZ Artists Outlet (Toronto) and recently at the Spaces Gallery (Cleveland, USA). He lives in London, England.

Socially (Sub)Conscious: Effects of the Performance Artist in Public Places


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