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2017 About the Artists

Meet the Artists of HOLD FAST 2017

ENSEMBLE – At the Reception
Fortis Parking Lot, 139 Water Street
Performance: 6 – 10:30 pm
, August 12

ENSEMBLE is the first collaborative project between Halifax-based interdisciplinary artists Kiersten Holden-Ada, Zak Miller-Ada, and Michael D. McCormack. Using media technology, the temporary installation will resemble a drive-in theatre and activate an interactive, communicative environment in what would otherwise be a space for passive listening or entertainment. ENSEMBLE seeks to challenge the nature of mainstream distribution of broadcast media by reflecting on its traditional roles of the visual and audio in a public viewing within the privatized space of the automobile. A parking lot in downtown St. John’s will be setting for ENSEMBLE’s projection and radio broadcast of a pit orchestra in the 2017 HOLD FAST festival.

Kiersten Holden-Ada, Zak Miller-Ada, and Michael D. McCormack are interdisciplinary artists living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. ENSEMBLE is their first collaborative work is designed as a temporary installation in vast open spaces that can resemble a drive-in movie theatre. Their work utilizes media technology to activate an interactive, communicative environment in situations that are often designed for passive listening or entertainment.

WARMBLOOD – Vicky Sabourin
Christina Parker Gallery, 50 Water Street
Performance: 4 – 8 pm, August 12
Co-presented by Christina Parker Gallery

WARMBLOOD is a living tableau exploring tensions between wild and civilized through the intimate relationship between man and horse. Montreal artist Vicky Sabourin creates an installation space that is both one of childhood fantasy and controlled adulthood. The artist has felted the life-sized horse used in the performance and activates the installation through a four- hour performance piece. Sabourin pushes the performance through the focused narrative of a rider who must sacrifice his animal to survive – the ultimate sacrifice for the horseman. This new body of work for Sabourin allows for her to investigate the inner animalism within our civilized roles and the idea of control we imagine ourselves to have. Vicky Sabourin will be the 2017 HOLD FAST Artist in Residency for the month leading up to the festival expanding her work and connections to the St. John’s artistic community.

Vicky Sabourin is a Montreal based artist. She completed her MFA at Concordia University. Her work has been shown in galleries, artist run centers and museums in Canada, the United States and Europe. Les Curiositiés presented at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is one her most recent solo exhibition. In 2017, she exhibited Lac Caché (The Hidden Lake) at the Quebec City Contemporary Art Biennial. Part of that work was produced at the Banff Center for the Arts and Creativity during a 2016 summer residency. Sabourin is a Canada and Québec Art Council recipient.

Harbourside Park, off Water Street
Performance: 7 – 10 pm, August 12
Co-presented by Grenfell Campus, Memorial University

It’s okay to be tired aims to examine the social aspect of yawning and the communal feeling of exhaustion in a society largely caused by new technology and capitalist productivity ideals. Artist April White wants the HOLD FAST audience to take a break and release within the space of a cozy tent that is supportive, non-judgemental, and empathetic to its restless audience. White creates a familiar space of a living room with calming sounds, plush furniture, and pillows that talk when a head is resting on them. The tent will lend opportunities for visitors to speak about their tiredness with White and recharge as they find ways to relax and regenerate in a moment of self-care.

April White is a St. John’s-based interdisciplinary artist who works in performance, watercolour, and animation. She examines self-representation in post-internet culture through digitally captured and dissected daily actions such as yawning, waking up, and sneezing.

WOVEN WIRES – Vanessa Dion Fletcher & Pearl Marie Salas
Neal Building, 50 Harbour Drive
Installation Ongoing
Two performances: 6:30 pm10:00 pm
, August 12

WOVEN WIRES brings to forefront the voices and brilliance of two indigenous artists Vanessa Dion Fletcher and Pearl Marie Salas as they position their oral tradition and personal narratives into the history of Indigenous revolution and assertion of sovereignty. In 2014 Fletcher and Salas composed a Manifesto entitled ‘The Syndicate of Indigenous New Media, Performance, and Craft Artists Shikaakwa’ and with the addition of a projection and performance the two artists will seek to reject settler narratives and assumptions in sharing their Manifesto. The project will bring feminist indigenous presence and perspective to the HOLD FAST Festival and be a counter narrative to the many Canada 150 events many audience member will have encountered throughout 2017.

Vanessa Dion Fletcher and Pearl Marie Salas are indigenous women from very different parts of Turtle Island. Pearl – Mexican, Yaqui, and Navajo ancestry, much of her work plays off this unique cultural mix to interrogate how the modern world relates to notions of past, present, and future. Vanessa of Potawatomi Lenape and European ancestry employs porcupine quills, Wampum belts, and menstrual blood to reveal the complexities of what defines a body physically and culturally. They met at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago where their Indigenous feminism and aptitude for experimenting with technology and traditional materials brought them together.

Anna Templeton Centre, 1st Floor, 278 Duckworth Street
Installation Ongoing
Two performances: 5:30 pm8:30 pm, August 12

How to Talk With Plants centres on a person whose starting point is faith in the potential and possibility of communicating with plants. Not just talking to them, but with them, in what would amount to a kind of first contact with a new species. He is willing to try anything to make a connection—not just speech, but a dizzying variety of hisses, hums and guttural squelches. In the process of trying to work out the problem, his faith is tested again and again, and questions begin to pile up. What will they respond to? Do they even want to talk to us? Despite mounting doubts, he refuses to lose faith, and urges the audience not to lose their faith either. “If we figure this out,” he says, “we figure everything out.”

Using admittedly absurd means, the performance teases out the strangeness and impossibility of our own attempts to make contact, not with plants, but with each other.

Ray Fenwick is an interdisciplinary artist working with video, performance, sound and typography. He has an undergraduate degree from NSCAD and an MFA Degree from the University of Manitoba. He has participated in residencies at Struts Gallery (NB), Plug-In ICA (MB), and Owens Art Gallery (NB). He has exhibited, performed, and screened work in both Canada and the U.S., and he has spoken about his work at galleries, conferences and universities in both countries. He has received grants from Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg Arts Council and Nova Scotia Culture and Heritage.