A Tale of Two Spectacles
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The U Pop conference is perhaps one of the more engaging, yet under appreciated, parts of the Edgy Women Festival. This is a crime.

Today, a dozen or so of us sat around and spoke about what we had seen over the last few weeks, and it’s amazing what you can learn about the choices of an artist when you have them there in the flesh to motivate what they did with their flesh onstage a few nights prior.

Today’s conference—animated (so, so literally) by our Edgy co-blogger Barb Legault—featured a duo from Je Baise les Yeux, Gaelle Bourges and Mirianne Chargois from France, as well as Montreal-based Adréane Leclerc and Studio 303 Artistic Director MIriam Ginestier.

This made for quite the lineup.

Over the course of the two-hour exchange, the panellists discussed the ‘dramaturgie du corps,’ the contact performance art has with the spectator, diversity onstage, the ways that sex as a subject in art toes the lines of violence, voyeurism, power, and what is/is not acceptable in « public. »

Organizing a lineup of female-produced perfo always manages to explore these spaces, explained Ginestier, and she often finds herself asking: is what we’re doing sensationalist?

This year’s festival, for those following, has heavily touched on the themes of sex and performance WORK, (operative word being ‘work’) it takes to maintain and explore the fantasies of the erotic. And the general U Pop consensus between the artists was that certain kinds of corporeal voyage and presentation reveal things that some people, quite frankly, are still not ready to take.

This point of « ready exploration » in particular meandered in a lot of directions during the discussion, both over the open session and the audience-led Q&A period. We got into a conversation about the divisions between French feminism and North American feminism (which we could write a book about), as well as the assumptions attached to to the smut/art divide unfortunately attached to the performance works of women.

(Like the pattern where, for example, many people often search for a victim narrative in sex work, with this assumption that no woman could actually enjoy doing what they do to make a living.)

We also got into the differences in reception between pro-sex, queer audiences and hetero, « high art » enthusiasts.

But what stuck long after the latte’s were gone and were getting hungry was something that validated the last post: In Succube, which was shown twice yesterday at 8 and 10:30 p.m. and felt like an entirely different show. The early show had seven walkouts, the 10:30 bill was nearly sold-out and was given a thunderous standing ovation.

Why the difference? Contact with the spectator. The public has the power to change the show entirely. How an audience engages with the body, and what is done with it, changes everything.

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