"Maybe it's the mountains, maybe it's the sea or maybe it's the drugs, but for whatever reason, performance art in Vancouver is accepted and celebrated as a meaningful and historical part of that city. The LIVE Biennial ebbs and flows like the tide over the course of six weeks and features a marathon of performances, symposia and social events curated and programmed under the festival umbrella by a plethora of galleries across the city."
Canadian Art Summer 2005
The LIVE Biennial grew out of the one time initiative by Brice Canyon and myself to create a festival and publication around performance art on the 20 year anniversary of the Living Art Festival produced in 1979 by Glenn Lewis, Kim Tomczak and Paul Wong. In the 20 years after that festival painfully little had been written about Vancouver Performance and LIVE at the End of the Century was an attempt to bring some attention both critically and publicly to Vancouver Performance Art.
It was a wild success. The publication and 5 week festival were a strong representation of Vancouver Performance both presently and historically and was given strong reviews in FUSE, Artichoke and Canadian Art as well as the popular press. For an art form that seldom sticks its head above water it was a welcome interest.
It was after it was over the galleries said "So when do we do this again?" Brice and I had no plans to ever do it again. But we did in 2001 and again with David Yonge as Director in 2003. In 2002 the LIVE Society was formed and the rest is history as they say.
LIVE is a new model for presenting performance. Working with a host of visual arts institutions and curators to produce the biennial brings a wide range of ideas around performance to the table. Its six week format highlights the solo performance and gives each artist the ability to develop their work without restrictions of venue and format but with the support of a curator and institution. For audiences it shows a wide range of artists both emerging and established and with local, national and international reputations.
So far the range of work has been spectacular, but part of me thinks the LIVE Biennial has only just begun to amaze us. As a format which brings together most of the finest curators in Vancouver and institutions that continue to find support for more ambitious projects I think LIVE is the first festival of new century.
Merle Addison's photographs of the performances are performances in them selves. He moves stealthily around the space to get the best shots on black and white film with no flash. The audience mostly don't even notice him and its later when you see the results that you realize how much he nailed it. Captured the one shot or one moment that defines an artist and this particular work. It is its own special art form and Addison has it down completely.
LIVE 2007 is already in the works. In the fall of 2005 Todd Davis was named as the new director. He and the board are already making plans for the new biennial.
The LIVE - Biennial of Performance Art is a six week festival of performance art taking place in Vancouver in October November 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007.It is collaborative event with the participation of over 25 Canadian Visual Arts Institutions. Participating Institutions include Artspeak, Or Gallery, Western Front, Video In, Vancouver Art Gallery, Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery UBC, Centre A, The Charles Scott Gallery ECIAD, Contemporary Art Gallery, Gallery Gachet, Acess Artist Centre, On Edge, Helen Pitt Gallery, Radix, grunt, IMAG, Neutral Ground (Regina).The Live Society with the support of grunt gallery co-ordinates the event with the participating galleries. They launch the festival Kick Off event and run a series of panel discussions during the festival. They also co-ordinate the publicity and marketing of the festival through advertising and print.
The LIVE Society and Director Todd Davis are currently working on a DVD project documenting the festival.