This month, Mile Zero Dance is venturing into the world of performance art with the debut of the Zero Gravity International Performance Art Summit, which contains both an eight-day workshop and four-day festival. Under the curation of Beau Coleman, a seasoned multidisciplinary artist whose work as a performance artist has received solo and group exhibitions across North America, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia, the Summit brings together a cutting-edge array of international and Canadian performance artists to Edmonton, AB.
Read on to learn more about Coleman, the festival curator, and why you should check out the Zero Gravity International Performance Art Festival.
- How did you get involved in the performance art world?
I began working in visual performance art shortly prior to moving to Edmonton over twenty-five years ago. I was living in New York City working in the downtown art scene with the experimental company Mabou Mines. My own work as theatre director was greatly influenced by visual art and was interdisciplinary by nature. In the late 1990’s I began to exhibit as a visual artist (installation and video) and soon after began creating solo performance art works for galleries and festivals. I was particularly drawn to the solo nature of the art form, as a counter balance to the large scale work I was doing in the theatre.
- What was your first performance art experience?
Like many Canadians, my first exposure to performance art was John and Yoko’s Bed-In for Peace, which took place in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal in 1969. I remember seeing it on the news and trying to figure out what they were doing. Was it a performance? It certainly seemed so, even to a child.
- Why was it important for you to create the first-ever Zero Gravity International Performance Arts Festival?
I very much valued Latitude 53’s Visualeyez Performance Art Festival, which Todd Janes founded and curated here in Edmonton for twenty years (until 2017) and took part as a performance artist in a couple of its festivals. In the spring of 2018, I began thinking of bringing several of the performance artists I had met through festivals overseas to Edmonton as a means of continuing to grow the art form in the city.
- What should people expect from attending the Zero Gravity International Performance Art Festival?
The Zero Gravity International Performance Art Festival features over fifteen performance artists from around the world (Argentina, Cuba, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico and United Kingdom), across Canada and here in Alberta, coming together for artistic and cultural exchange with the people of Edmonton.
You should expect to be surprised. Every artist approaches performance art differently and will be connecting to the festival’s theme of Zero Gravity in their own way. Performance art is meant to stimulate and challenge the mind through powerful images. You may not always understand it, but many of the images created will resonate and envelope you in an immediate visceral experience in a different way from other art forms. Performance art is real. It is not pretend.
- Why is the Zero Gravity International Performance Art Festival important for people to attend?
I believe in this period we live in, which there is so much isolation and disconnection caused by the very thing that was to bring us together – technology – what people crave are unique experiences where they can feel fully present. Performance art provides that experience, which is why its popularity has grown tremendously worldwide over the past few years. Come experience it for yourself. You’ll leave the festival with lots to talk about.
Written by Brynna Robinson, Marketing Communications Intern