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WESTERN FRONT DISCUSSION: Participatory Dissent: Debates in Performance

Participatory Dissent: Debates in Performance, examines motivations, debates, and political/social/historical genealogies that stem from divergent contemporary performance art practices. The objective of the program is to broaden participation in and discussion surrounding performance art practices that forge new relationships between artists, site and community. Participants are encouraged to think experimentally and critically, reflecting on prevailing structures of thought while dynamically engaging inheritances and innovations.

Participatory Dissent: Debates in Performance stages an encounter between traditional forms of performance art (endurance/duration) and performance actions that both engage and trouble new forms of social practice and intervention. The aim of this program is to expand understandings of performance art, its histories and public engagement. Facilitating the creation of new work by some of Europe and North America's most engaging interdisciplinary and performance artists, Participatory Dissent: Debates in Performance will consist of individual and collaborative works, online discussions and a round-table discussion event, comprised of all participating artists, co-curators and the public, that will form the basis of a publication contributing to contemporary performance art scholarship.

The invited artists are critically engaged with the social, cultural, and political issues, and often work in participatory ways, researching in advance the geography, sites and communities where the work will be situated. The program will facilitate dialogue between work that address the histories and stakes of both duration and endurance to body-based performance and social-intervention work situated both online and in various outdoor locations in Vancouver's East End. Works will address public intervention, alternative economies, and cultures of fear in the post 9/11 era.

The completed works will be situated both in the gallery and in public space. This program will allow multiple points of access for participants across backgrounds, disciplines, and ideologies. Supplementing events taking place in physical space, and to further engage and foster art audiences locally and internationally, we will develop an online location where participants can contribute texts, start conversations, post manifestoes, and share their individual and collective actions and responses. This project will engage online and offline community building and networking in order to generate participation.

Further, the program is aims to unsettle hermetic visions of curatorial practice by co-producing each program, co-chairing round-table debates, co-authoring curatorial statements, and engaging in public dialogue with each collaborator (each of which, him or herself, complicates or contributes to debate surrounding interdisciplinary practice/theory). As an experiment in curatorial performance practice, the program addresses overlaps between practices, modes of thinking, and opinions about contemporary performance. The program, as a whole, attempts to upset strict divisions between curator and artist positions in theory, while, nonetheless, paying attention to the value of strategic divisions of labour in practice.


Natalie Loveless eceived an MFA in interdisciplinary studio from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and an MA in Art History from Tufts University. She is currently working on a PhD in the History of Consciousness department of the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has exhibited/performed both locally and abroad in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.