--- Diva memoirs ---


Diva Biographies
Diva Memoirs
Diva Credits


Biographies of Contributors:

Performer/Writer: Lori Blondeau is a Saskatoon-based performing/theater artist who has worked in performing since 1983. Lori's most recent work is a collaborative piece with photographer Bradlee Larocque, entitled COSMOSQAW. She created a performance in collaboration with Vern Checkosis called We Want to be Just Like Barbie That Bitch has Everything. Blondeau is a curator for Tribe artist-run centre in Saskatoon.

Videographer: Maureen Bradley is an independent video artist, instructor and video editor living in Vancouver. Producing videos that explore sexual identity, media representation, power, desire, and gender identity, her work has screened at festivals and galleries internationally with the occasional broadcast here and there. Maureen started producing videos as an extension of queer activism and has produced 15 works since 1990. Long before Ellen came out on American TV, Maureen had the bizarre experience of being, perhaps, the first out dyke on a Canadian TV series. In 1992 she appeared in CBC's Road Movies, a weekly show that followed eight Gen-X roving videographers across Canada. In April, Maureen launched a solo exhibition at Video In-The Dead Lady Project which explores contemporary culture's fetishized relationship to the female corpse.

Curator/Performer: Marusya Bociurkiw is a media artist, curator, and the author of the short story collection The Woman Who Loved Airports. She has programmed for galleries and festivals across the country. Most recently, she curated Cabaret Ruling Passions for the "Explicit" Symposium, and "Other Tongues", a touring program of Canadian video art for Video Out. Her critical writing has appeared in Fuse, Mix, Kinesis and Border/Lines. She has produced over a dozen videos which have been screened world-wide. She has recently completed residencies at the Wexner Centre for the Arts and Hedgebrook Writer's Colony, and is currently teaching television and popular culture studies at SFU and UBC.

Performer Joelle Ciona: Mal located gregarious iso-type wandering what she's doing here. Joelle Ciona has a degree in architecture and has been practicing landscape architecture, sound composition, sculpture, video, and performance. Targeting moments when everyday actions suspend my disinterest I am rappelled by the masses... but not being from here I don't have proper climbing gear. Joelle Ciona hails from Saskatchewan, developed her cutting edge in Montreal, and after 2 years as a Vancouverite she's looking to move on. Suggestions are welcome.

Curator: Peter Courtemanche is director of the artist-in-residence production program at the Western Front. He has worked variously with sound/radio-art, video, and interactive/electronic installations. Currently, he is producing an installation entitled "Spirit Hands" - a work that haunts the gallery and pays reference to the spiritualist era and in particular 'spirit photography'.

Writer: Sylvie Gilbert is a prominent Canadian critic and curator. She studied at both Concordia University and L'Université de Montréal, she has filled the role of Media Arts Officer at the Canada Council, and she has been the curator for the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

Performer: Sheila James is a musician, writer and theatre worker, formerly based in Toronto and presently living in Vancouver. She has composed music for theatre and film and performs regularly as Jimmy Susheel-" the Harry Connick Junior of the South Asian Scene." She is a former Artistic Director of the feminist troupe the Company of Sirens and has been active in organizing, producing and performing work for Desh Pardesh-the largest festival of South Asian culture and politics in North America.

Curator/Video Artist: Paul Lang has worked in Vancouver as a video, performance, and text-based artist for the last ten years. Installations include "Plaids", "Choose your Plague", and "Results?". He has worked collaboratively with Lorna Boschman, Yvonne Parent, Kiss and Tell, Zachary Longboy, Ian McNolty , Grant Greegson, and Noam Gonick. He is currently a board member of Video In and is on the programming committee of Out on Screen. Through both organizations he has acted as an independent programmer/curator. Between projects, he provides technical support to local and international artists.

Curator: Erick Metcalfe is the performance art curator at the Western Front. Known for his infamous alias Dr. Brute, Metcalfe is currently working on a series of ceramics based on classical forms. He is an avid collector of jazz and film noir.

Performer: Haley Newman is a performance artist based in London, England. Recently, she was a recipient of a DAAD scholarship, and was included in the Young Contemporaries show at the ICA in London. Her performance work often plays on the notion of the music star. She is known for using the technology of sound (the vinyl record, the vocalist's microphone, the guitar amplifier) in unique ways as a means of deconstructing images of popular music.

Performer: Marnie Lee Plested is a performance artist and producer based in Vancouver. He recently co-hosted the Miss Messiah Pageant and co-curated the Millennium Towers performance festival at the Helen Pitt Gallery. He is presenting a performance and installation this month at Video In.

Performer: Marlene Madison Plimley is an interdisciplinary performance artist with roots in painting and design. She studied at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and she has also studied acting. Marlene performs live, and her video works have been screened Canada, the US, and Amsterdam.

Artist: Pipilotti Rist is an internationally renowned video artist whose work deconstructs elements of popular culture by reveling in the fetishistic behavior shown in mass-produced pop videos. Recent exhibitions include The Social Life of Roses or Why I'm Never Sad, at the National Kunsthalle Wien, Galerie im Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin, Museum for Gegenwart; Centre National d'Art Contemporain de Grenoble-Le Magasin; The Office, Tel Aviv; and Site, Santa Fe.

Performer: Carol Sawyer is a Vancouver based visual artist and singer whose work often takes the form of performances or multi-media installations. Of late, her work has examined ideas about the singing and speaking voice in relation to the social construction of gender. Recent projects have included the full-length performance piece: "An Incomplete History of the Voice, in five acts", presented at the Western Front in November 1997, and the multi media installation "Amazon", currently on at Artspeak Gallery in Vancouver. "Amazon" is showing May 1st - June 6, 1998 at Artspeak Gallery in Vancouver. Sawyer is giving a performance in conjunction with the exhibit on June 6 at 8 p.m. at the gallery. A companion publication will be launched on that date also.

Performer: Alvin Erasga Tolentino, originally from Manila, in the Philippines, has trained with the Ballet Philippines, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, York University, and a variety of international dance artists. His work has been described as "devastatingly beautiful,... unpredictable, bizarre, and totally captivating." Presently based in Vancouver, his work as a solo dancer/choreographer has been featured in festivals across Canada, Japan, the United States, Philippines, and Switzerland. He was a finalist in Nagoya Japan, at the first international dance competition. Recently, Tolentino formed Erasga Projects to produce, promote, and enhance the work and stature of both established and emerging visual and performance artists in the community.

Curator/Performer: Lori Weidenhammer is a performance artist from Cactus Lake, Saskatchewan. She has participated in two residencies at the Banff Center for the Arts, the Instability of the Feminist Subject, and Action Poetry. She recently produced Cleaning the Hive, a performance piece based on the art of Aganetha Dyck, developed in collaboration at the Mendel Art Gallery. She has curated an Internet piece called Virtual Postcards from the Feminist Utopia. Lori is currently based out of Vancouver and is working on two pieces with interactive costumes.

Cyber Diva: Kira Wu is currently completing her MFA degree at Simon Fraser University in the School for the Contemporary Arts. She has worked primarily with video, photography and installation art. Her most recent project "Translation", is an installation incorporating still photographic images, recorded sound, text and video projections in an audience-interactive space. The project confronts issues of cultural and historical fragmentation and the translation of history, memory and cultural identity through storytelling and visual representations. Video works that have been screened nationally at festivals throughout Canada include: Empty Orchestra, Whitewash, Occidental Tourist, and Am I Here, Do I Belong Here?.




Diva Memoirs:

What Re-Inventing the Diva Means to Me


Lori Weidenhammer:

What Re-Inventing the Diva means to me

I often feel uncomfortable in public places, and this discomfort has led me to create performance pieces in which I challenge the public audience to make room for me and my ideas. A lot of my work has been about women taking up space, and I became intrigued about how different divas claim their space. The Diva is a careful construction which the public allows room for: we give her a wide berth for her moods, her appetite, her opinions and her form of art. This is a fantasy for someone like me who always feels squeezed to the margins. Demanding space is an art. I want to learn the art of the Diva.

Oppressed individuals take on the construct of the diva. Quentin Crisp tells us to nurture our oddities, for those are the things that will make us successful divas. I want to wear the construct of the Diva as a form of drag. The male drag artist mimics the female diva, and I in turn, take influences in my work from the Drag Queens in my community. I am interested in this cross-fertilization that happens, and I was intrigued to invite artists together in a festival where this kind of hybridization is nurtured and studied.


Issues I've had to grapple with in my urge to

take up space include these:

1) Defining my discipline- I have a background in singing, visual art, and drama. At one point some artists at AKA gallery in Saskatoon took me aside and said: "You're a performance artist." Since then, performance art is a discipline which I decided to align myself with because of its feminist history, but many people have tried to exclude me from the privilege(?) of calling myself a performance artist because of my roots and my aesthetics. The Diva defines her own discipline. These issues are trivial and annoying to her.

2) Entertainment values: I often feel responsible to entertain my audience. The Diva is enough entertainment in herself. She does not worry about such trivia. She redefines entertainment.

3) Humor: I often feel responsible to use humor in my performance. The Diva follows her moods and takes us with her wherever she goes. I am premenstrual and you will feel my cramps.

4) Aesthetics: Madame Valentino the great fashion designer said one's dress should fit the century, not the year. The Diva knows that fashions come and go, but she will always come back into style.

5) Feminist agenda: The Diva is her own agenda. She does not need to align herself to a political cause. The political cause needs her.


Carol Sawyer: What Re-Inventing the Diva means to me

Working with the other artists in the Diva Research Team has greatly expanded and enriched my experience of the diva. Our many discussions and meetings have been intellectually and creatively stimulating. As I learn to tap into the power of my inner diva, I am experiencing an unprecedented proliferation of characters, personas, images and ideas. I am amazed and delighted continually at the outrageous creativity and quirky humor of my cohorts.


Kira Wu : What Re-Inventing the Diva means to me

Re-Inventing the Diva is an important event because it pulls together the real "girl-power" behind the art community and expresses many different points of view from many different (real and imagined) divas. Divas can empower the shyest performance-artist wannabe, the most unassuming drag queen or the closet psychic. It is not just 'girls' putting on shows for girls, it is men and women (real and imagined) taking what we know of divas from the everyday to carnivals to late-night movies and appropriating images and characters into a visual art, performance festival.



Diva Credits


For their support of the Re-Inventing the Diva Festival, We would like to thank The Canada Council, The Western Front, as well as our local businesses who contributed prizes to our pajama party:


Diva Mendhi

Moss cafe


Hi-Life Records

Burcu's Angels

The Underground

The Accessory Group

The French Connection

The Block Clothing Company

We would also like to thank all our volunteers for their time and energy.