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HAPPENINGText: Aya Takada

“Performance art is anything but bookish which could explain the lack of written history which has contributed to many misconceptions. The Academy’s misrepresentation and misunderstanding have left performance art as a footnote in the history of art,” states Live artistic director David Yonge.

The Vancouver Biennial of Performance Art took place from October 18 to November 29. Over the six weeks of the Festival, about 46 national and international performance artists appeared at 22 different venues, including British artist Dick Averns, UK’s performance art creator Andre Stitt, German artist Boris Nieslony, and Canadian artists Hester Reeve, Rodney Graham, Kristine Stiles, and Julianna Barabas. The Festival held shows, lectures, and panel discussions addressing the current condition of performance art in Vancouver.

Generally considered, it is difficult to define live performance art. This unshaped, expansive art form allows artists to express their ideas, but these features would be problematic to achieve the audience’s understanding and on-going conversations. LIVE seemed to seek the answers or strategies for the problems through lectures and panel discussions. The public and performance artists discussed different themes of live performance art. LIVE artistic director David Yonge hopes “the panels would move beyond the history and meaning of performance to discuss how it affects other disciplines, hinting at its own future.”

David Yonge and Jamie McMurry at grunt gallery

Panel discussions every Sunday during the festival would hopefully increase public awareness and develop social and cultural values of performance art. The themes of the panel discussions at the grunt gallery were “Theories and Hybridities,” “The Future of Performance Art,” “Collaboration,” “Process,” “Memory and Performance,” and “Trauma and Endurance.” Performance art was finally made a topic of discussion for about 2-3 hours every Sunday. Yonge also joined the discussions as one of the panel members.

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