Voiced bellows, purges, moans, snorts, expulsions, mumbles, screams, cries, words and plain song; 2 women vocalists in pinstripe; projected philosophical text of Wittgenstein and noises off. Parallel script structures run the entire length of the 20-minute performance. Christopher Butterfield composed a 20-page score with three different sections on each page (sheet music, words -toilet paper, lipstick, tampons- and visual/text mashups), a bell chime signals every minute and the performers choose one section to vocalize next. Choosing adds improvisational stalls, loops, overlaps, rests and chants. Public washrooms are the subject and with all the echoing sounds and text a labyrinth of stalls is easily imagined where the entire private but shared bodily functions take place. An ugly-pretty sound experiment belted out with tongue.


Stall by Christopher Butterfield
Vocalists: DB Boyko/Christine Duncan


Stitch is an opera for 3 women and 3 sewing machines formed on the language and narrative of the seamstresses and the sweatshop: slip, back, cross, feather, chain, rip stitch; running, tacking, hemming stitch. The seamstresses look at life through the eyes of needles intent on keeping each other in a straight line; they poke more holes in each other than the cloth. A power struggle ensues. The women voice the conscious cramps that live in their bodies: self-denial, suppression, abstinence, agitation, arousal, wildness, compliance and restraint –


-clothes are restraints that hold and shape a body; the cut and selvage of my coat is stiff, the collar upright, the sleeves pinched. It tailors my stance. What would I be without it? Naked deformation. Women, fashion, sculpt each other, a dress code, a “proper” understructure = social compliance. Read the label on your shirt or dress. Where was it made? Who made it?

Vocalists:Neema Bickerseth, Christine Duncan, Patricia O’Callaghan
Libertto: Anna Chatterton, Christine Duncan, Juliet Palmer, Christie Pearson

vintage sweatshop NYC

contemporary sweatshop Asia

DIY sewing cafe Paris

Peter Morin is a visual and performance artist of the Crow clan of the Tahltan Nation. Morin describes his series of performances, 12 Making Objects: 12 Indigenous interventions a.k.a First Nation’s DADA, as “finding ways to address the history of the Residential Schools and the effect of these schools on the aboriginal community and memory.” Morin’s performances acknowledge the pain and struggle caused by the Residential schools in history that is still present in our culture today. This work addresses the past, land stolen, children stolen, but his work honors the memory by creating ceremony through performance to connect with Aboriginal experiences.

Morin uses objects and actions to communicate and transform the gallery spaces and all the objects are left on display; Morin covered a copy of the 1876 Indian Act in animal fat,

made button blankets adorned with braided hair

imprinted moccasin tongues on the walls

drew with salt and tobacco salmon swimming

performed a telephone call to Joseph Beuys

smudged cedar smoke

fried bannock for everyone

cut his hair off while reciting all the words he knows in Tahltan

told stories about his grandmother by reading a deerskin jacket

constructed a tent of branches, string and bunting

danced, wearing layers of red blindfolds to “every breath you take” by P. Diddy

Morin’s actions and objects energize the gallery space. The blindfold dance reveals stories in an interior landscape and under these stories, more stories, aboriginal strata, flora and fauna. Perhaps the beaded deerskin jacket is a living leather letter written by a grandmother to a stolen child; it is a story we can only read with our hands. Perhaps the raw small stick tent is a counter-structure to the residential schools; we can experience an entire leafy encampment in place of bricks and plaster. Perhaps in cutting his hair Morin frees a stone of loss and grief – while pinning the braided hair onto the button blankets is a re-attachment to glory and culture. The salt, tobacco, cedar and sage smoke mingle and intervene in the space and speaking Tahltan words out-loud inverts the space; the words are like bling. And perhaps the soft moccasins, tongues and sole, rhythm and breath, object and story, hold everything together.

Morin quotes his grandmother “with these stories of ours we can escape almost anything.”

12 Making Objects: 12 Indigenous interventions a.k.a First Nation’s DADA, Peter Morin 2009 Artist in Residence Camosun College and Open Space, Victoria BC

Belonging Networks John G. Boehme 2009 AGGV Victoria

John expresses to be your friend and offers you a name tag, scotch, sparkling water, a breath strip, a white strip, perfume and a piggyback ride through the gallery. You are invited to question “what are your own protocols or rules of what makes a “Friend”.

Here are some friend making strategies according to John G. Boehme’s performance

1. eye contact
2. physical contact
3. salutation/greeting (paralanguage or gesture)
4. exchange either object and/or friends name

John Boehme greets me a “a friend station” a I write my name on a tag and together we place the burnt plastic tasting pocketpak breath strip/holy wafer on our tongues; I refuse the scotch, but Boehme takes a hit (his 9th? of the evening). I drink the sparkling water while Boehme adds another layer of Paco Rabanne to his already flamboyant persona.  Boehme continues to increase his appeal with a whiter smile via the graphic insert of a whitestrip. I ponder over the piggyback ride. But how can I refuse he is so friendly, fresh, inviting and willing to carry me. I am heavier than he thinks or is it the scotch that makes our wordless trip past the paintings and sculpture awkward. We come to another “friend station”, we shake hands and even hug. I stick around and observe him befriend some one else.

Later I walk home in fresh night air but smell of sweet sweat.

I think about the performance framed with my experience around doubt and my history with friendship:

My youngest friend has 1,068 friends on a social networking site. I am perhaps his most elderly friend. I think friends are rare; I cannot love the crowd. The time, befriending each one 1,068s of individual singularity—that’s an arithmetic lesson beyond by my capacity. I don’t want that many friends, for there is not enough time to put them to the test by living with each one. I must choose a few. There is not enough time. A small number of friends does not characterize the friends themselves. Consider these legendary friendships: Harold and Kumar, Willow and Buffy, Frodo and Samwise, Sponge Bob and Patrick, Itchy and Scratchy. But these are from movies and TV. Perhaps, the interaction and dependency I do have with my digital friends is real? Maybe scrolling and strolling for friendships that never physically take place argue with materiality in favor of endless possibility.

Friends? This is what I want. Satisfaction, honesty, narcissistic reflection, pleasure, goodness and good for you, reliable, to love before being loved, hope, assistance and your presence at my death.

“Before you make a friend, eat a bushel of salt with him” – Concise dictionary of European Proverbs.

“A true friend stabs you in the front.” — Oscar Wilde

“It’s false love and affection, you don’t want me. You just want the attention.”– Laroux

What do you think?