Photo by Brittany Snellen

Upon entering the workshop space at Dc3 Art Projects, on Saturday May 11th, I was immediately enveloped in a silent yet energized air. I felt like a person who entered a sermon ten minutes after it had already started. For the next week, students and artists from all over the globe will be participating in an intensive performance art workshop guided by co-facilitators Beau Coleman, Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith, Francesco Kiais, PASHIAS, and Alexandra Zierle.

More than a dozen artists filled the empty gallery space, all quiet, ready to perform what they had worked on during the workshop that day. I had no idea what to expect; no idea what the workshop was on. One by one the artists entered the gallery space until there were eight artists performing in close proximity, yet completely absorbed in their own space.

The air of the gallery was charged with an intensity born of bodies enduring, straining, repeating, holding, exerting, suffering, making. A part of me was afraid to breathe; the other part felt insignificant, like my breath wouldn’t matter anyways–their concentration was so fixed that if I threw a glass plate over my head and onto the concrete floor, someone might blink, but without a skipped beat the show would go on.

The click of my camera shutter echoed throughout the gallery space, with its high naked ceiling and hidden spaces. Just as I prepared myself to start thinking of how I would describe my experience, I was shocked to find I was suddenly immersed in sound. Not exactly what I had been expecting. So I just listened as bare feet rhythmically and tirelessly slapped the concrete, creating the effect of a metronome as the others worked.

As the feet carried on the gallery was filled with: the visceral sound of needles popping through plastic; the breath-like swish of threads being woven and caressed; the sound of hundreds of seeds bouncing off concrete; plastic netting snapping under tension; the slow, heavy grinding of a stone ball under the artists weight against the floor; tape being ripped and wound around skin and cloth; a slithering body pushing and pulling itself against concrete and drywall.

This is only a small sample of the multi-sensorial encounter I experienced in the artist’s space. What had been brewing in the space all day before I got there remains unknown, but it gave me a taste of the energies, sensations, and bodies that would be performing at the Zero Gravity Festival coming up the following weekend, May 16-19, 2019.  

Written by Brittany Snellen.

Brittany Snellen has a master’s degree in art history from the University of Alberta. She’s spent the last five years facilitating collaborative exhibition projects between art historians and artists. In her spare time you can find her photographing births and writing about art.