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EDGY WOMEN and EDGY REDUX

Edgy Women and Edgy Redux are feminist experimental art events devised by Miriam Ginestier and produced by Studio 303 that ran for 23 years from 1994 to 2016. Commemorating International Women’s Day, Edgy Redux continued the Edgy Women Festival’s mission to explore the complexity of contemporary feminisms through fun, experimental, and community-building artistic events.

HISTORY

Edgy Women Edgy Women began as a one-night dance event in 1994, eventually blossoming into an interdisciplinary two-night event with a concurrent visual art exhibit. In 2006, Edgy Women took on an expanded festival format in multiple partner venues, providing a refreshed context in which to showcase longer works, more out-of-province artists, and parallel activities. In 2013, we celebrated the 20th edition of the festival. Unprecedented artistic collaborations occurred between avant-garde theatre artists and professional wrestlers, visual artists and body-builders, hockey players, and novice skaters. Rich conversations took place between artists, audiences, academics and activists during a full-day colloquium and through our commemorative zine. In 2013, after losing 85% of its funding, Edgy entered a new transition phase, being rebranded into the more concise Edgy Redux which also saw the participation of Andrea Rideout as programming director. This 3-day incarnation of Edgy continued for three more editions before coming to a close in 2016. (click here to read Miriam Ginestier’s statement)

MILESTONES

See archives for full lists of artists presented.

• 1994: Studio 303 hosts a one-night dance event called Women from the Edge featured the work of three New Yorkers and two local choreographers, Irène Stamou and Danielle Lecourtois.

• 1995: the event is repeated and the name Edgy Women / Femmes au-delà is adopted.

• 1998: now a full-on multidisciplinary two-night event, Edgy Women features a dozen artists including Céline Bonnier and Victoria Stanton.

• 2000-2003: a concurrent visual art exhibit takes place in Gallery 303, with works by Marie-Claude Pratte, Karen Spencer, Louise Dubreuil and Vanessa Yanow, among others.

• 2001: Edgy Women became one of four events of Studio 303’s newly established Interdisciplinary Series.

• 2005: Edgy Women relocates to the Sala Rossa for 4 nights and features a performance-art concert by Swiss radicals les Reines Prochaines. Audiences quadruple from 166 in 2004 to 652 in 2005 and artist fees nearly tripled from $2,750 to $7,100.

• 2006-2007: now a bonafide 3-week festival funded by the Canada Council for the Arts’ Inter-arts office, the Edgy Women Festival features screenings, exhibits, workshops, a zine fair and performances by 30 or so artists. The wildly popular Défi Edgy was created as well as a workshop co-facilitated by Nathalie Claude, Alexis O’Hara and Dayna McLeod. Partners included Café Esperanza, la Centrale, Reel Dames, Studio XX, Articule and Toronto’s Hysteria festival.

• 2008: the festival suffered a blow when it did not receive festival funding. Making the best of a dire situation, Edgy moved back to 303 and had a particularly process-based community-outreach edition. We had an Edgy career day, a fundraising concert for Project 10, and an adventure in gender-bending with the trans artist Lazlo Pearlman and the “woman with a beard” Jennifer Miller.

• 2009: the short-lived festival funding is no longer available to Studio 303, but the festival finds other ways to survive. Tangente becomes a presenting partner for the next 3 years, and the festival benefits from new collaborations with Eastern Bloc and Mainline Theatre which hosts the sold-out four-night run of the Scandelle’s Neon Nights.

• 2011: Edgy hosts two unusual events which bleed away from known artistic territory into sports/leisure, and sex eduction: Karen Sherman’s Slippery on a public ice rink and Annie Sprinkle’s Sidewalk Sex Clinic.

• 2012 – We host the inaugural edition of Edgy Hockey, a UPOP-inspired conference at the Casa del Popolo, several full-length works and a Zombie-zine launch, all with the much-welcomed help of a dozen volunteers from France!

• 2013 – We celebrated the 20th edition by moving into the Blue Cat boxing club with unprecedented artistic collaborations between avant-garde theatre artists and professional wrestlers, visual artists and body-builders, etc. Rich conversations took place between artists, audiences, academics and activists during a full-day colloquium and through our commemorative zine.

• 2014 – After losing 85% of our budget for Edgy when the ministry of Canadian Heritage decided not to renew our funding, the board of directors took many measures to weather the storm including shrinking Edgy down to a 3-day event. This first edition of Edgy Redux featured short videos on Nuit Blanche curated by Dayna McLeod, the return of the Défi Edgy hosted by Alexis O’Hara at Sala Rossa, and an in-studio colloque featuring performative lectures from artists such as kg Guttman. We also saw new-comer Andrea Rideout working along side Miriam to conceive and plan the programming this and subsequent editions.

• 2015 – Miriam takes a 9 month sabbatical while Andrea takes the reins of Edgy Redux for another season. Coral Short & Angela Gabereau present their curation of short videos at Nuit Blanche, Alexis O’hara hosts a feminist magic-themed cabaret at Sala Rossa, and Anne Goldenberg hosts a community discussion exploring the ways that feminist artists make their work.

• 2016 – Studio 303 comes to the mixed conclusion that Edgy resources could better serve feminist audiences by being turned over to emerging curators in residence so the farewell edition of Edgy is planned around the theme: The End. Miriam curates a video archive retrospective for Nuit Blanche, Nathalie Claude & Dayna McLeod return to host a final cabaret at Lion D’or and Edgy receives a digital internment via a feminist wikipedia edit-a-thon.

Repeat artists who contributed immensely to the Edgy identity include:

• Nathalie Claude: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2016

• Alexis O’Hara: 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016

• Dayna McLeod: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016

• Karen Sherman: 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011

• Karen Bernard: 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005

• Tonija Livingstone: 1999, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013

• Jess Dobkin: 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010

• Coral Short: 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015

• Lamathilde: 2004, 2010, 2013, 2014

• Nikol Mikus: 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014

• Jaqueline Van de Geer: 2010, 2014, 2015

THE END

As many of you are probably wondering, we asked Edgy’s founder and long-time director Miriam Ginestier…

Why end Edgy?

There is no simple answer to this question.

Edgy was my most beloved event at Studio 303, but there is no denying when the love affair feels over. I don’t know how else to explain it. All break-ups are hard: as we grow together our identities intertwine, and there are so many shared memories, so many common friends. Edgy was the sum of many parts – including many of you! Over 500 talented, brave, wacky, smart and hilarious die-hard artists and cultural workers created the Edgy identity and momentum. How does one leave that?

Several factors prompted the decision to end the festival and create Edgy Redux in its stead: some personal, some external. Edgy Women’s iconic 20th anniversary edition in 2013 exploring Sports/Art/Gender was the culmination of several years of research and desire – frankly I couldn’t imagine topping it and was really unmotivated to put on a 21st edition. In addition, I harboured an increasing malaise with its gendered and anglophone name which sometimes felt dated and exclusionary. And when Studio 303 lost significant Canadian Heritage funding for presenting, our biggest event had to be radically downsized.

So the festival morphed into Edgy Redux, condensed because of finances, and reborn because we weren’t ready to let it go, and thought we’d try a new distilled model. My colleague Andrea Joy Rideout is responsible for much of the artistic direction of Edgy Redux’s three editions – from it’s inaugural theme of “Transitions”, to 2015’s “Feminist Magic” and this year’s “The End”. I am so grateful that she is steering this final edition. Andrea has devised an intelligent, nostalgic and pragmatic way to guide us all in saying goodbye to Edgy, while strengthening the event’s legacy. Ultimately, Edgy is ending because as we gear up for a new multi-year programming cycle, neither one of us are willing to commit to directing a new cycle of four editions. We’re more excited by what comes next.

Sadly, feminist experimental performance festivals are few and far between (R.I.P. Hysteria). But amazing things come from a vacuum and feminism will continue to be a compelling programming theme at 303 as it continues to pop up in our artists’ work whether they identify as feminist or not. Studio 303 has always been and always will be a place where artists working with marginalized practices and perspectives are welcome to train, create and present.

Edgy is dead, long live Edgy!

– Miriam Ginestier

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