PSi #21 Fluid States - Canada, Transmontreal Day 1, by Convenor Amelia Jones


Transmontreal – Day 1

by Amelia Jones

19 September 2015

PSi#21 Fluid States - Canada


PDF available here

We had a fantastic first day of the Trans-Montréal workshop.

I introduced Fluid States and showed the very stunning video by the Japan group much acclaim. Then the first panel of the day was “Trans-identification,” which I moderated and which included really sharp and interesting, brief polemics presented by Tawny Andersen (on the performative “across” practice and theory), Kama La Mackarel (on femme-of-color trans identities as a “layering" and how to enact them through performance and other media), Johnny Forever Nawracaj (on two Polish sites of religious/national identification and xenophobia in the face of current xenophobic reactions across Europe), VK Preston (on 17th century colonial dictionaries forcing Wendat language into French: translation as domination), Mikhel Proulx (on the relationship between performing gender and coding identity through interface with computers, and the illusory sense of existing in “fluid states” in relation to our screens), and 2Fik (on the complexities of trans-identifications for someone born in Paris as a Moroccan immigrant, moved to Morocco where he had to learn Arabic, and then to Montréal: transculturality and identities as a bag of marbles, each relating to a different aspect of the self, of which, when placed on a surface, only some touch the surface and emerge into view). 

The second panel, moderated and run by Erin Hurley (performance studies scholar at McGill), was on “Trans-Media and Translation,” in relation to Québec performance. Jean-Marc Larrue spoke about intermediality in relation to the performative; Leslie Baker talked about her “physical theatre,” grounded in dance, gestural theatre, and multimedia (or intermedial) performance art;  2boys tv (Stephen Lawson and Aaron Pollard) spoke of their work Tight Rope, a piece that “transforms” according to the venue, city, and culture at hand; and Sarah Henzi spoke of indigenous cultures across Canada and curator Louis Karl Picard-Sioui’s performance at the vernissage of his show The Indian Act Revisited at McGill’s McCord University, where he organized an attack on his person, deeply unsettling the audience. 

Notably, Henzi pointed out that tomorrow, while we will be engaging with our colleagues in Regina on autochtone (aboriginal) issues, the Mohawk tribal peoples will be staging a powwow and protest at McGill, which is built on unceded Mohawk territory.

The first afternoon panel consisted of Victoria Stanton and Sylvie Tourangeau delivering the results of their 1 1/2 year long investigation into the themes of "Transaction/Transformation,” for which they enlisted four other performance artists to engage with them in fugitive and liminal performances in the public sphere. The group (Evelyne Bouchard, Diane Dubeau, and Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood, and Nicole Panneton) per formatively exemplified such fugitive acts throughout the presentation and all workshop participants were enlisted at various points in the exercise. For example, Bouchard passed around a purple phone attached to an iPod playing a recording of the entire morning’s session, creating a metacommentary on time and perception in relation to the “event."

The second afternoon panel, run by Alanna Thain and Jen Spiegel, presented the research presented in a “shift" at PSi 2012 in Leeds (with collaborator Christoph Brunner, and others) investigating “Transmigration/Mobile Homes: Enduring Fluidity.” Questions of place, site, who owns public space, and what constitutes “home” were addressed. The session ended in a “conceptual speed dating” routine involving all members of the audience. 

The attendees all adjourned to walk up Mont Royal to view an outdoor screening, run by Thain’s Cinema Out of the Box project, of the extraordinary film Québékoisie, directed by Mélanie Carrier and Olivier Higgins. The film plays onto a screen hung between trees in the lovely, tender Montréal fall evening, with volunteers trading shifts to ride the bicycle running the generator to make the digital projector and laptop work. 

The film addresses the transculturality and transidentifications in Québec which normally go unacknowledged: the aboriginal people long ago intermarried with the francophone population such that there are actually no “pure” francophone or “pure” aboriginal peoples. The film discusses the tendency to ignore this actuality so as to reinforce the myth of separate cultures. 

The evening ended on a beautiful note.

Tomorrow we will see a final panel on “Trans-history” and performance, run by Anne Bénichou, and including presentations by Geneviève Chevalier, Catherine Lavoie-Marcus, and Noémie Solomon. The panel addresses “recreations, reenactments, readings, and other forms of reactivating works of art.”  



Copyright –  Amelia Jones  (2015) “Transmontreal – Day 1”, PSi #21 Fluid States: Performances of UnKnowing LOG, ed. Marin Blazevic, Bree Hadley and Nina Gojic, Performance Studies international (PSi), 1 January 2015-31 December 2015, available

Tags: Gender Sexuality and Performance  Performance Studies in the Americas   

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