In the late 1990s. Archer Pechawis, a performance and media artist, Brice Canyon, a curator, and Glenn Alteen, the Director of grunt gallery, began a conversation about performance art, in particular discussing the lack of a critical framework for the performance work that was happening in the city. The lack of writing around performance art from 1979 – 1999 and the fact that several national publications hadn’t done well at documenting the Vancouver scene was a source of frustration. The conversations that began about these matters gave rise to a partnership between Alteen and Canyon, who worked together to develop a project that would address the place of performance in the city. The result was a six-week multi-venue event that would entail a one-night cabaret as well as 16 individual performance events held throughout Vancouver, organized through grunt and hosted by many affiliated artist-run centres and artist collectives. The festival was called LIVE: At the End of the Century.
LIVE was inspired in part by a performance project that occurred in Vancouver in 1979, The Living Art Performance Festival. This festival, co-organized by Glenn Lewis (of Western Front), Paul Wong (of Video In) and Kim Tomczak (of PUMPS), presented 25 individual performances, a series of film and video screenings and a ‘legendary’ event in Vancouver’s history, the Mondo Arte Cabaret (a one-night performance showcase event). The Living Art Performance Festival also generated a publication of critical essays and photo documentation of the performance events, which has since become foundational for those who wish to study performance in Vancouver.
Alteen and Canyon had similar aspirations. LIVE was originally positioned to engage the curators in the community, to capture their activity and develop a project that would host a symposium and produce a new publication of critical essays and a working chronology regarding Vancouver performance. Canyon spearheaded the archival and research element of the project, while Alteen connected with many artist-run centres to produce the events.
At the outset, the festival was meant to exist as a one-time project, set up to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of The Living Art Performance Festival and to make use of the variety of curatorial approaches to performance happening in different galleries and artist-run centres. Guided by the idea that performance included many variations and purposes both within and outside of the scope of contemporary visual art, the event aimed to be expansive and inclusive. Eleven different centres became involved in the first year, bringing their audiences in touch with the various events. The results were successful enough that the galleries and artists involved prompt Alteen to continue the project at regular intervals, turning LIVE into a biennale. The event expanded to include the participation of more galleries as the years continued, such as the Vancouver Art Gallery in year two, which hosted Mondo Artie Episode #6070 – The Sleuth Lips Report, a performance based on the script by Glenn Lewis that had been published in the LIVE: At the End of the Century Catalogue from two years prior.
Daina Warren who came to work with grunt in 1999, worked closely with Canyon and Alteen to produce the first event. Although Canyon departed after the first year, Warren remained involved until 2005, when the festival became its own entity, at which point she went on to be the General Manager of the 2007 festival, and a contributing curator for the 2009 festival. Having worked with the festival from the start, Warren provided some continuity for the event, and is cited as being essential to its development.
Having developed as an event that would gather together performance practices that were happening in the various centres of art in Vancouver, LIVE remained associated with the grunt, where various staff and volunteers supported the event through its iterations over the years until the festival grew to be an independent project of its own, in 2007. It has since developed in new directions, maintaining a platform for both local and international performance to take place in Vancouver.
First Board of Directors Live Biennale of Performance Art Society (2003)
LIVE Biennale Mandate
LIVE’s mandate is to provide artists a forum to present performance based artworks to the public; to produce and disseminate analytical and critical information about the practice; and to facilitate and promote discourse about the art form. LIVE’s mission is to promote new living art in our city by presenting to a wide and culturally diverse Vancouver public a festival and off–season activities representative of the best and brightest local, national and international practitioners of new, experimental, time based and performative art.
LIVE: At the End of the Century, 1999
Dates, Events, Locations
October 1 Live at the End of the Century Cabaret
Jay MacLaughlin, Warren Arcan, Margaret Dragu, John Boehme, Aiyyana Maracle, Tagny Duff, Jeet K da Tripmaster, Christine Taylor, Carellin Brooks, Anthony Favel McNab, The Human Faux Pas, Kokoro Dance, ‘I, Braineater’, Stephen Anthony
October 2 Jerry Allen and Trevor Gould Hotel Motel (At the Or Gallery in association with Sadie Bronfman Gallery)
October 7 Satina Saturnina Sector X (Anza Club)
October 8 Helen Goldwater Pucker (Western Front)
October 9 Kiss & Tell Borderline Disorderly (Video In)
October 12 Judith Norris Blue Lodge, Reona Brass Everything to Know about Nothing (organized by ALA at Havana Gallery)
October 15 Marlene Madison Plimley Little Miss Mira (Western Front)
October 16 Dana Claxton Ablakela (grunt at Western Front)
October 19 Lori Blondeau, Thirza Cuthand (organized by ALA at Havana Gallery)
October 21 Andrea Fraser (Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and Western Front)
October 22 Clint Burnham and Mark Laba Cop Puppet (Artspeak Gallery)
October 23 & 24 Mille Chan and Evelyn Von Michalofski The Seven Sauces (Charles H. Scott Gallery)
October 23 Notes from the Lab (organized by Mo-Ling Chui and Winston Xin at Sonar Club)
October 26 Ruby Truly Wireless Bodies, Sandra Lockwood (ALA at Havana Gallery)
October 30 & 31 Maya Love Dance Performance (Dynamo)
November 4 & 5 Paul Wong ReACTion (Video In)
November 5 & 6 Taste This Too Close to Fire (grunt)
LIVE: At the End of the Century
published in 2000, this book contains a collection of essays on performance as well as a chronology of events related to Vancouver’s performance history.
5 Brice Canyon, Introduction
8 Glenn Lewis, Mondo Artie
36 Judy Radul, Stage Fright: The Theatricality of Performance
56 Margaret Dragu, Eye Yam, Eye Yam Not
70 Paul Wong, Various Definitions of Performance Art, Oct. 13, 1999
78 Karen Henry, Premeditated: Out of Body Experience
88 Todd Davis, Performance in Vancouver 1980-1990: Frenzy from a Narcissistic Point-of-V=iew
98 Aiyyana Maracle, Performance Art & The Native Artist: an rEvolutionary Mix?
108 Kiss & Tell, Kiss & Tell: Performance Fragments
124 Glenn Alteen, Beyond Haute Camp: the interplay of drag and performance in Vancouver
136 Archer Pechawis, New Traditions: Post-Oka Aboriginal Performance Art in Vancouver
142 Ivan Coyote, Maybe She Did, Maybe She Did
148 Warren Arcan, “Working Title”
160 Tanya Mars, Archeology of Performance – Performance Art Starter Kit – Instructions Manual
172 Writers’ Bibliographies
176 Photo Credits
Information about artists and thematics of previous festivals can be found online at:
Information and documentation of LIVE events (from 1999-2005) can be found in the archives of the grunt gallery. Access may be provided to individual researchers by appointment.
Contact LIVE Biennale
Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa, Sodomizing Diego Rivera, 2001.
Erin Stanley & Corin Sworn, Total Ass, 2001.
Glenn Lewis, Mondo Artie Episode #6070 – The Sleuth Lips Report, 2001. Performance still 1: Glenn Lewis with Kate Craig; performance still 2, Glenn Lewis, and Mondo Artie Episode program.