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Montréal, Québec, Canada

[Cirque du Soleil, 2012 @ Francois Vincent]
September 17, 18
Performance and/as: translation, transmedia, transmigration, transformation, transidentification
Montréal is located geographically in the “center” of white-dominant, first-world, Euro-American culture, at the upper end of North America.  Montréal is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in a francophone province and was once the largest city in Canada (before the “quiet revolution” of the late 1960s and early 1970s when the Anglophone power brokers and the leaders of the catholic church were overthrown).  And yet Montréal (like Québec in general) is largely viewed within and beyond North America as peripheral to dominant constructions of culture and identity on the continent, which are largely Anglophone. The metropole is thus suspended culturally in a paradoxical “fluid state”: it is part of a network of cultural exchanges active among francophone countries and areas around the world (mostly France and its former colonies), and yet resides within a continent largely viewed worldwide as dominated by English-language culture and by American ideals and values. As part of a left-leaning province, the city is an irritant to now more conservative Anglo-Canada; as a francophone province it is largely invisible to the citizens of the USA—even though the US/Canada border is only 45 miles South of the city. As such, while Montréal has a rich native and then colonial history as a trading area and, from the early nineteenth to the latter half of the twentieth century, as a major cosmopolitan and industrial center, and while it still has its own vitality and unique identity within North America, it is viewed as marginal to the dominant cultures of North America.
Trans-Montréal seeks to explore this dual nature of the city as the center of a part of North America (francophone Québec) which is, outside of the province, viewed as marginal to Anglophone dominated power structures and conceptions of American/Canadian identity (including those expressed in academic writing in fields such as Performance Studies). As evidenced in its spectacular as well as experimental performance cultures—from the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil to the lively local art and performance scene—Montréal is a vibrant hub of both mainstream and activist and alternative performance and art expression, one that is underappreciated by historians and theorists of art and performance around the world. “Trans-“ themes as articulated below will explore the complexities of the “states” of being (always on the move or “fluid”) which define a cosmopolis that is always active, always vital, and always changing, a city that must situate itself in relation to a continent that largely ignores its offerings, as well as to the dominant Anglophone art and performance worlds and within international networks of Francophone art and culture.

This event is running in conjunction with Performing Turtle Island in Regina, Canada, and there will be a shared session on Transmigration: Aboriginal/Autochtone theatre that links the two conferences.

Detailed information on Transmigration: Aboriginal/Autochtone theatre in Canada and Québec Panel “Researching/encountering/transporting,” Organized by: Dr. Jesse Archibald Barber (First Nations University of Canada); Dr. Kathleen Irwin (Theatre Department, University of Regina) is as follows - 
Looking landward rather than seaward, there are tropes that resonate deeply with Indigenous people on the Canadian plains: loss of territory, language and loved ones, the trauma of broken body and spirit, the processes of slow healing – the certain knowledge that vessels from far shores, both real and abstract, have transported cargo that manifests a violent hegemony. This conference, entitled Performing Turtle Island: Deconstructing Identities positions at its centre the notion that those who live on Turtle Island, within the ideational borders that designate Canada, plumb the depths of the processes of knowing and unknowing in performative and embodied ways. Indeed, these are issues central to the work of many of our most prolific playwrights.
Situating much of this body of work between European and Indigenous traditions raises the ethical problem of using Western theoretical approaches to interpret Indigenous literatures - in essence, another form of colonialism. Thus, while considering the development of First Nations drama in Canada, the Conference will also take up the question of what distinguishes First Nations from the broader fields of Western drama and styles of performance. Is it primarily Indigenous content (cargo) that makes these plays Aboriginal, or are there formal differences that are distinctly Indigenous? For Aboriginal playwrights, the use of mythic figures and spiritual traditions provides a way of interpreting social concerns from Indigenous perspectives. It is by a process of indigenizing that Aboriginal dramatists enact a critical unknowing of Western performance conventions to restore a sense of knowing Aboriginal traditions to their plays. The central question that the Conference takes up in the form of a national symposium of Canadian Indigenous playwrights, scholars and artists is unknowing.
Included in this is the notion of trans-identity – what it means to signify across a range identifactory practices. This is what drives Performing Turtle Island: Deconstructing Identities.
NOTE: This panel is taking place in collaboration with Performing Turtle Island: Deconstructing Identities national conference (Regina - September 17 to 19th, 2015) focusing on current Canadian indigenous playwrights, and modes of performing indigenous identity on conventional and non-conventional stages through critical and performative lenses. 

This conference will be curated with no open call for Presenters + Performers, but there will be a call for Local and Visiting Correspondents - scholars, artists or activists who have an interest in the topic who would like to attend as part of their own research agenda, participate, then present a creative, scholarly or other sort of response that reads the conference conversations through the lens of their own research on the LOG.

Call for Local and Visiting Correspondents available here.

The public will also be able to attend to watch the presentations and performances.

Curator and co-director:  Amelia Jones, Robert A. Day Professor of Fine Arts, Roski School of Art and Design, University of Southern California; and Professor and Grierson Chair in Visual Culture, McGill University, Montréal

Co-director: Dr. Katie Zien, McGill University

UQAM liaison: Anne Bénichou, Professeure d'histoire et de théorie de l'art, École des arts visuels et médiatiques, Université du Québec à Montréal


Amelia Jones: ameliagjones@gmail.com 



Tags: Gender Sexuality and Performance  Identities Bodies Corporealities in Performance   Performance Studies in Languages Other Than English  Performance Studies in the Americas   Race Ethnicity and Performance  

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