Natalie Loveless has one hell of a résumé. Loveless teaches in the department of Art and Design (History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture) at the University of Alberta where she also directs the Research-Creation and Social Justice CoLABoratory funded by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS). She has received her Ph.D. in History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz and has taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Western University, Wilfred Laurier University, and the San Francisco Art Institute. After Thursday, April 26, Loveless can add curator/host of Dirt Buffet Cabaret #32 to that impressive CV.
Loveless spoke to Liam Coady, curator and host of Dirt Buffet Cabaret #31, over email about her curation process for Dirt Buffet Cabaret #32. Keep reading to find out what she has in store for MZD on Thursday, April 26.
Liam Coady: First of all, reading your bio is like watching academic stellar nebulas form into an array of creative galaxies, which is to say it is awesome view of the marriage of both practiced art and the academic study of it. With much experience both in and outside of Canada within the studies of performing arts, what keeps you coming back to Edmonton? What have you learned from abroad that you would like to see happen here more?
Natalie Loveless: Well, I have to start by saying how much I love your characterization of my bio! What a wonderful way to see it. While some of my early studies were in the performing arts, most of my training is in the visual arts, with a focus on performance art. Not to say that there isn’t a great amount of important overlap between experimental theater, dance, sound art, and the visual arts, just to clarify my formal studies as primarily in that nebulous field called contemporary art and theory rather than the performing arts proper. As for Edmonton, it actually isn’t that I keep coming back, it is that it has bewitched me and kept me here! I was raised as an 11th generation settler (on my mom’s side, and 1st generation on my dad’s) in Montreal, land of the Abenaki / Abénaquis, Haudenosauneega (St Lawrence Iroquois), Huron-Wendat and Kanien’kehá:ka nations. After many years of bouncing around Europe, the US, and Canada, I was lucky enough to land in Edmonton, Treaty 6 territory, in 2012. As it so happened, when I was offered the job at the University of Alberta I was also offered a position in Vancouver. After visiting both, it was clear to me that Edmonton is where I needed to be. Folks back home were incredulous – “Why Edmonton over Vancouver?” Honestly, it was the people. Every second person I met here inspired or interested me. I kept talking to folks and thinking “I could collaborate with you! We could do something together!” And, indeed, that is what I have found: a lot of generosity, a lot of creativity, a lot of experimental willingness, and an excellent capacity to not take oneself too seriously or hold grudges if things go wrong (both crucial to collaborations of all sorts).
LC: For myself, I found programming Dirt Buffet #31 to be a challenge. (Big props to Gerry for spending time helping me wrap my brain around it all!) When putting together the list of artists for Dirt Buffet #32, what were some considerations you took into account? Who were you interested in having participate in the event?
NL: For Dirt Buffet #32 I have invited a cross-section of folks, some established and some emerging, not all of whom identify as artists – some identify as historians or theorists. Jessie Beier, who is co-organizing the event with me, and I are working to remake the Dirt Buffet Cabaret into an Eco-Dirt Buffet with a set of artistic works that emerge largely from an experimental seminar that I have been running called “Art and/in the Anthropocene.” In the course, we’ve been reading feminist, decolonial, and multi-species responses to human-induced climate change, as well as looking at artists who not only make work about ecological topics but who privileged ecological form.
LC: I love that in the event page it mentions the Dirt Buffet as a performance lab. Can you elaborate on the experimental nature of your art and/or your curation practice?
NL: Honestly, when Gerry asked me to curate a Dirt Buffet my first reaction was: I don’t know the cabaret genre! But, Gerry being Gerry, she said: make of it what you will. While I love attending cabaret, when programming performance art I generally avoid proscenium-style set-ups. So, I asked if I could turn the cabaret structure inside out: instead of the audience sitting in chairs and watching a set of various acts sequentially take the stage, Jessie and I decided to position the performances throughout the space, and to invite the audience to move around between the different “stations.” I hope it works!
LC: For me, I find Dirt Buffet to be not just a night of creative experimentation, but a chance for artists of differing disciplines to meet in the same room, have conversations, and let a new audience bear witness to their art. What do you anticipate the audience of DBC 32 walking away with that is unique to your curation?
NL: We hope the audience experiences an evening of both playful and serious engagement with Anthropocene discourse. These artists are part of a generation of folks who, for the most part, are in the process of professionalizing themselves, and yet, at the same time, are grappling with what it means to train for a future that is so uncertain. There will be works that push us all to think through ecology and technology, a séance with non-human others, anti-capitalist story-time with meaningful objects, sound experiments (one with bacteria!). There will even be a “material manifesto” inspired by the work of ecosex artists Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, who recently visited the University of Alberta. This group of artists have put together experimental performances that are all the more interesting when juxtaposed against one another. Look forward to seeing you there!
Dirt Buffet Cabaret #32
Thursday, April 26 @ 8 PM
Spazio Performativo, 10816 95 St.
$10 (or best offer) at the door
For more information about the show, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/254112578466285/