--- Diva schedule ---

Curatorial Statement
Diva Event Descriptions
Diva Event Schedule


Curatorial Statement
Re-Inventing the Diva is an examination of the changing role of the Diva in contemporary society. The festival invites a diverse group of people to question the role of the Diva: the history of her role in opera, the drag diva, divas and racial issues, with a particularly strong focus on elements of the diva in performance art .

The Diva, (or male Devo), creates a cocoon around herself/himself, a cocoon of self confidence and self-denial. In nurturing herself, she spins a myth out of herself. The Devo lets narcissism run amok. He indulges himself, and yet creates an incredible discipline out of his work. At the root of the Diva, is this fascinating cycle of self-denial and self-aggrandizement. We work out our fantasies as a catharsis through them. We wonder how far can they go, how divine they can become, before they are brought back to our level of human frailty.

There are certain elements of conventional performance which performance artists often set out to reject. Some of these are characteristics common to the construct of the diva. These characteristics include personality, stage presence, personal charm, musicality, and theatricality. I would argue that in rejecting these elements, in many cases they do not disappear from the performer's constructed reality, but are instead re-defined by contemporary performance artists.

-Lori Weidenhammer


Here's an introduction to

some of the festival events:

In October 1998, the Western Front will present the Re-Investing the Diva festival. This festival will feature 5 days of performances with over thirty local, national, and international artists. These artists will be featured in performance art, spoken-word events, a web site, cabaret, library/salon and video screenings taking place from October 14-18, 1998.

The festival is curated by independent curator Lori Weidenhammer, in collaboration with Western Front curators Eric Metcalfe, (performance art); and Peter Courtemanche, (media); with special gala evenings curated by Marusya Bociurkiw (spoken word), and Paul Lang (video).

The Diva Research Team

Local media artist Maureen Bradley is working with a team of six Vancouver artists including Carol Sawyer, Marlene Madison Plimley, Sheila James, Alvin Erasga Tolentino, and Lori Weidenhammer to create a commissioned diva video which will be premiered at the festival.

Maureen and the Diva Research Team are artists in residence from April 1997-October 1998. They are collaborating on the development of a performative experimental video. The artists have been meeting regularly to discuss issues around the Diva, the Devo, and the Prima Donna. The performers are also developing solo performances to show at the Re-Inventing the Diva Festival.

Feature Presentation by Sylvie Gilbert:

Re-Inventing the Diva will include visiting writer and curator Sylvie Gilbert from Montréal, who will be presenting a paper on the "miracles" that female performance artists perform. She writes:

"Carnavalesque and religious events have through time provided moments for esthe diva to perform. Early medieval saints have performed amazing accomplishments.... Performing miracles and suffering were attitudes that allowed fervent religious women among other things, to escape the tyranny of family life and the nameless existence reserved for them."

Haley Newman is an artist from the UK who will perform in the the festival. Newman says:

"My intentional interface with the festival 'Re-Inventing the Diva' will be to further my position as 'anti-diva' which I see as a constant repositioning and re-invention of the use of the female body in performance work. I will be working with notions of invisibility through the presentation of a series of solo performances which either hi-light a specific activity or take place in darkness in an attempt to transgress the edges of the body and minimize the space between the performer's body and the audience." (Hayley Newman)

Lori Blondeau is a first nations artist living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. For the festival, Lori is expanding on an idea she developed with Bradlee Larocque in the COSMOSQUAW. In this work she employs idealized images of women in popular culture and inserts herself into the picture. Lori will be performing a version of COSMOSQUAW, within an installation that includes five light-boxes, made in collaboration with Bradlee Larocque.

The Western Front Exhibitions Program will present the installation My Boy, My Horse, My Dog by Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist. This work developed out of her work in progress Shooting Divas which she presented at Saint Gervais in Geneva and which was exhibited at the Istanbul Biennial in 1997.

"The female representation of one's own physicality is a presentation of dissolution, of opacity, of vagueness of ambivalence of mere virtuality."

(Valie Export)



Re-Inventing the Diva

Festival Schedule Oct.14 - 18/98 :


Oct. 14

11 a.m.: opening of the *diva salon, featuring video excerpts from the performance art archives of the Western Front. Located at Video Out, 1965 Main Street.

1 p.m.: festival registration

8 p.m.: opening night performance, Haley Newman, followed by the Gala opening party

Oct. 15
8 p.m. Lori Blondeau performs COSMOSQUAW
Oct. 16
8 p.m. The Diva Has Spoken, spoken-word cabaret with Marusya Bociukiw and friends
Oct. 17
8 p.m. performance art cabaret with Carol Sawyer, Marlene Madison Plimley, Sheila James, Alvin Eragasa Tolentino, and Lee Plested.
Oct. 18
2 p.m.: Sylvie Gilbert presents her paper, with discussion to follow

8 p.m. Video Gala: Paul Lang's evening of curated Diva Drag videos, and Diva Research Team commissioned video screening

For ticket information call 876-9343. Tickets to all evening events are $12 or $8 for Western Front Members. Festival passes are $55 or $35 for members. Memberships are $25 and include a subscription to FRONT magazine.

*Diva Salon: A resource centre for festival audience and participants to access research materials on the Diva. The room will have a tape deck/video monitor, with a selection of tapes from the Western Front archives and videos produced by performers in the festival, relevant books, and comfy chairs. Located at Video Out, 1965 Main Street. Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Oct 14 -17.

Pipilotti Rist's installation will open in September and run throughout the length of the Re-Inventing the Diva Festival.