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Welcome to LIVE 2017

LIVE 2017 may be the 10th edition of the LIVE International Performance Art Biennale, depending exactly when and how the start of LIVE is demarked. In 1999 there was a one–off cabaret commemorating the legendary 1979 Living Art Festival, which itself celebrated the significant history of performance art in Vancouver. Everyone had so much fun that it continued in 2001 with a rambling city–wide festival produced and curated by the local art community, with LIVE as an umbrella promoting the disparate events. So successful was this collaboration, LIVE was incorporated as a performance art biennial. Around 2007 LIVE became a critical entity, assuming the curation and production of showcased local, national and international works, in collaboration with existing galleries, facilities and resources. This spirit of collaboration has grown to now include a developing global community and international networks.

Over the last two decades, LIVE has presented hundreds of local, national and international emerging, established and celebrated artists through collaboration with independent curators and dozens of partner art galleries, cultural centres, organizations, and institutions. Artists are offered unique access to cutting edge support, resources, technicians, and facilities. With minimal funding and infrastructure, LIVE continues through the passion and dedication of volunteer participation and community support. Key staff and crews are paid living wages. Artists receive substantial fees and production expenses.

LIVE’s vision remains specific to performance art. Our interest is to critical discourse of and around this genre. Performance art has, through a brief and storied history, continuously imploded and exploded notions of human engagement and intervention. The form is fluid in response to changing times and concerns. Artists constantly challenge rules of engagement and expression. Intellect and intent have become democratized and socialized. Artists everywhere are linking up and collaborating on new platforms of self-expression. From the streets, grass roots collectives, artist initiatives, to major international institutions, opportunity and context are thriving. Artists everywhere are embracing personal expression to address their own needs. Issues of personal, cultural, sexual, and political identity are all in the blender. Artists everywhere are going to unprecedented extremes to express themselves. Performance art is story telling. The stories reside in our DNA. In trying times, expressing freedom of expression and personal identity are risky, even dangerous for many. We are grateful to live in a privileged and just society where ideas and views can challenge status quo free from fear, suppression and oppression. Presenting other views is our challenge and responsibility.

I am again grateful to the participating artists whose commitment and passion are always inspiring. Thank you for sharing with our community your unique gift and experience. While with us, the artists also participate in a roster of emerging artist workshops, mentorships, talks, panels and pedagogy. ALIVE, the emergent artist initiative, proposes intensive workshops mentored by six visiting artists. LIVE Lunch Talks offers a casual forum for participating artists to publicly discuss their work and intention with LIVE Board respondents, and community collaboration with Super Cool Tuesday, a speaker series involving local and visiting artists in conversation with students, faculty, and residents of the Downtown Eastside (DTES).

LIVE 2017 is stronger than ever. I am indebted to the LIVE Board of  Directors, advisors, and extended family, who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to guide us. Their dogged determination and dedication is humbling and inspiring. I want to acknowledge VIVO Media Arts Centre, the Western Front, Unit/Pitt Projects, Interurban Art Gallery, Bestway and Pat’s Pub for generously providing facility and personnel. Thanks to the Patricia Hotel management and staff for once again, as for the past four editions, providing the visiting artists with a safe and welcome home. To Finally thank you to the roster of LIVE volunteers for your time and energy.

I would like to acknowledge several international curatorial consultants for their insights – Chumpon Apisuk, Asiatopia, Thailand, Harpreet Singh, Healing Hills, India, Fokoua Serge Olivier, FAVA, Cameroon, Ulay, whose correspondence guided the path and participating artist/curators Jorn Burnmeister, Performer Stammtisch, Berlin and Stein Henningsen, Arctic Action, Svalbard. LIVE 2017 is co-curated by Makiko Hara (Maiko Jinushi, Nile Koetting), Daina Warren (Kristen Snowbird, Theo Pelmus, Praba Pilar), Stefan St. Laurent & Rehab Nazzai (Raeda Saadeh), and Margaret Dragu (Jorn Burnmeister).

Finally, on behalf of the LIVE Biennale of Performance Art Society, I acknowledge the major funding agencies The Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council and the City of Vancouver, and the national and international cultural agencies supporting travel expenses. We are grateful for their continued support and trust.

Performance art is unpredictable. Artists generally need fluidity to their terms of engagement, In spite of best-laid plans things sometimes change. Stay tuned to the LIVE website www.livebiennale.ca for updates, additions, news, schedules, locations, and also ongoing documentation, texts, blogs, live streamed TV, and gossip. Join the world in watching.

Join us, follow us, engage with us. Together we are LIVE.

Randy Gledhill
Executive Director / LIVE Biennale of Performance Art Society