DATE : 20 septembre 2014
LIEU : 106 th street, MacEwan University, Edmonton , AB
Performance présenté dans le cadre du festival canadien annuel de performance Visualeyez
texte : Irene Loughlin
"In the early afternoon we accompanied Marie-Claude Gendron in her first performance for Visualeyez. She alternately dragged, pushed and kicked a wooden plinth forward down 106th St towards the impressive towers of Grant McEwan College, while carrying a large plank of wood on her back. The artist moved quickly and the performance assumed a processional quality.
Heading north, Marie-Claude arrived at her destination after a somewhat arduous and uninterrupted journey flanked by the viewers on either sidewalk and some passing cars. When she reached the college, she chose an epic modern archway under which she set down the plinth and wooden plank. She climbed on top of the plinth and held an object reminiscent of a silver ‘winning’ cup victoriously in the air.
Her arm became weak and she started to struggle with the object as she continued to remain in this pose. Eventually the object dropped loudly, and she dismounted and entered the college, carrying a mallet tied to a long piece of material. As we followed behind her, she walked quickly and quietly swung the hammer. We passed the school cafeteria and a viewer remarked later that this that it brought memories of Columbine. From what I’ve seen of Marie-Claude’s work in this festival, her work does definitely carry an unexpected weight of a potential danger which is never actualized. A young woman of relatively small stature, she moves quickly and decisively through the streets of the city and the architecture of the college claiming unquestioned authorship within this public space.
She exited the school, and standing outside we suddenly realized we were surrounded by glass windows. She began to swing the hammer over her head. Although she did not release it, we completed the action in our minds by imagining with horror the hammer being flung in the air and smashing into the windows.
I constructed a whole narrative that someone would get hurt while typing on a computer in the office tower, and an ambulance would have to be called. Did the festival have insurance to fix the glass? I feared these possible outcomes and shifted uncomfortably as if standing at a precipice. Several other viewers seemed to have a similar reaction. The artist drew our attention to the vulnerability of the architecture, that which we generally consider to be solid and controlled, or controlling. Her actions seemed to draw out the potential, hidden bodies within the buildings, calling them to make themselves known. During the performance we came to be aware of the architecture in a completely sensitized way, not as a place to pass through without noticing, but as a changing space dependent for its definition on the activity that it holds or contains.
We’ve all experienced ‘dead’ spaces of architecture where nothing goes on no matter what goes on, so its impressive Marie-Claude had created significant activity and spatial reflection in this work through her intervention in what was most likely theorized to be a ‘neutral’ space (evidence of this can be found in the beige tones prevalent everywhere).
As closure for this performance, Marie-Claude emptied her boots of sugar and sand, combining the left and right contents on the ground, leaving evidence that she had walked the space. This trace of the body becomes particularly meaningful when considering expectations in relation to gendered encounters with architecture. A gendered experience requires that there are various layers of visibility at work in the public realm in relation to our bodies – in public space, the female body, even when present, is absent. To leave evidence of a once present absence doubles this assertion of claiming public space in Marie-Claude’s work. "