M:ST presents the work by artist participants in the M:ST 5.5: Making Way workshop series.

In early July 2012, following the Summer Solstice, six Calgary artists participated in a performance workshop by Montreal collective TouVA. As Calgary celebrated 100 years of Stampede, this workshop percolated two stories underground, cultivating new forms of awareness as each individual came closer to his and her performative nature. The group bonded under challenges and exercises throughout the week, establishing a powerful momentum and blossoming their new realities in public. Jack Bride, Christina Mayder, Rosemary Brown, Jesse Altura, Sarah van Sloten and Yules Wai have had the changing of seasons to allow their workshop experience to soak into their skin, muscle, bone and marrow.

As a critical thinker, relentless observer, young artist, academic and vagabond, Jessie Altura tends to like many things and appreciates many aspects of existence. In his creative practice, he often enjoys experimenting with artifacts, and collaboration. He has yet to find his own rhythm whatever that may be, but in time, he believes, it will come.

I have found a new sensory perception within performance. It is a form of awareness, to feel when planned elements of a performance have evolved beyond the anticipatory, into a realm of here and now. This ‘here and now’ influence has the potential to change everything. Each and every performative act has its own ratio of solid to fluid, of anticipated actions to adaptive moments. Fixed, rehearsed actions are carried out, while volatile, unanticipated happenings are received and integrated.

I could be ready to arrange a performance with a tall apple tree, forming my actions around the fruit it bears. If, suddenly, lightning strikes this tree in the middle of the performance, cracking it in half, then my actions shift, now geared towards fashioning a sacred object from the singed, charged wood. What was once a ritual of honoring provisions of the Earth — in a FLASH — has changed into a ritual of preserving a gift from the Heavens.

Rosemary Brown, a local visual artist, is striving to bring the TouVA experience into her performative work with WCPV (Women, Creativity and Political Voice). For her that experience: “was about thinking with my body and feeling with my brain — to use my breath to break down the walls separating my mind, body and spirit — the walls that block my openness to the myriad of possibilities, seen and unforeseen, that exist in any single moment — to trust breath to take me deep inside — and out again — to that liminal space between stillness and action — to reach again that elusive awareness of and connection to self and others and existence.”

Sarah van Sloten is a member of AVALANCHE! studio collective, a group which shares a work-space in an old hotdog shop. Her drawings are mostly of faces and people and animals and words.

Throughout my artistic practice, Eastern culture and religion has been a big part of my influence, and in order to express it in the most natural and clean way. Research has been a major part of my daily practice. I incorporate digital media and sound that further supports it through live interactive performance and time-based installation. In my performances and installation work, I creatively combine found objects discovered from our natural environment that allows the audience to experience spirituality and culture. While performing in public, I focus holding a space in my conscious state of mind while solely relying on impulse and connection within the notion of live action. My time-based installation is often impacted through new information from the impulse and connection within the space I perform in. While spirituality reinforces the idea of human experience, my practice deals with freedom of our body, heart and soul, both physically and emotionally. My work attempts to bring the viewers in a state of reflection and uplifting experience.

My interest in performance art began with endurance work; this was a process of pushing my body to, and beyond, its physical and emotional limits. I found while working in an endurance performance, after a few hours my body would experience and react honestly to its environment. I found this ‘honest bodily reaction’ was what I desired, but it happened too infrequently. After working with the TouVA collective, I gained a greater understanding of how one might achieve an equivalent level of bodily awareness in a shorter period of time. My interest in performance work evolved; I began connecting with objects and trusting in a deeper intuition. All performances began to unfold organically as I started to trust in the action that I felt I must do; instead of the action I thought I should do. Currently, I have developed a furtive practice that is focused on human interactions, allowing me to maintain a creative engagement with my surroundings. In many ways, I feel the furtive work is a day in the studio, experimenting with human connections, relationships, and moments. But no matter what form it takes — endurance, furtive, gestural or otherwise — I am interested in the time that is shared between the audience and artist. Fleeting but present, quick but honest. Whatever it is that happens in that exchange during a live performance is certainly the pièce de résistance.

Projects in

TouVA Offspring

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