Phénomena renews itself… as usual!
For this unexpected and unsettling year, Phénomena Festival’s 9th edition will take place from October 3 to 23 2020 under the theme of Resilience. The programming will be essentially online with the screening of 9 short video-art pieces, 2 performances broadcasted on video, and one soundwalk. Still, Phénomena would not be Phénomena without live audience interaction – as such, there will be 2 live outdoor performances.
Given the current health crisis, the festival shifted paradigm and changed gears towards the digital world. The challenge then became to propose pertinent choices to both artists and audiences, all the while maintaining the integrity and artistic standards of the festival.
It must be said that D. Kimm, the Festival’s Artistic Director, was quite critical of this pressure that was put on the arts community to “quickly reinvent itself through use of digital technology”. Phénomena has never waited for a pandemic to hit in order to reinvent itself and find new artistic pathways. Moreover, digital art is a medium in and of itself and the artists within the phenomenal family are primarily involved in the performing arts – they are not necessarily familiar with digital technology.
The team rolled up its sleeves and transformed the restraints of this collective crisis into opportunity for supporting artists who want to experiment and broaden their scope. Artists presented at Phenomena Festival are interdisciplinary, atypical and alternative performers, of whom we see little of on the web. This is also an opportunity for audiences outside Montreal to discover an unconventional, extravagant and exuberant Festival with artists that are no less phenomenal.
The Festival’s Programming
Considering these past months of isolation, grief and distress, it was of utmost importance for the organizers to create a festive event, akin to the Phenomenal Parade, to inaugurate this Festival edition. Phénomena 2020 invite citizens to wear extravagant costumes and to join the dance festivities at Baldwin Park on Saturday October 3rd at 2pm, while respecting physical distancing protocols. The event will come together with the presence of Hélène Langevin from the esteemed dance company Bouge de là.
La Sala Rossa, Festival hearth and headquarters, was the filming location of two performances that will be broadcasti online. First up, Michel Faubert’s La Chapelle ardente, accompanied by an all-star band orchestrated by Bernard Falaise. Loosely inspired by Victor-Lévy Beaulieu’s Manuel de la Petite Littérature du Québec, this performance combines poetry, vocals and music. Followed by Cabaret Secret, an unusual cabaret, inclusive and intimate, in collaboration with the female and feminist team of Cirquantique and their guests. This joyous bunch explores circus arts, breakdance, bondage and burlesque.
Some of the usual suspects have, for the first time, created art videos. Audiences will have the opportunity to watch a whimsical correspondence between puppeteer Marcelle Hudon and musician Bernard Falaise, a video performance by Stéphane Crête on the subject of grief and emptiness, a video dance featuring multidisciplinary artist Marie-Hélène Bellavance (Corpuscule Danse) and her daughters, as well as a video by Claire Renaud on the subject of a particular sports icon: the cheerleader.
Following last year’s meaningful first experience with the Deaf performances Cabaret de performances sourdes, D. Kimm sustained her collaboration with deaf performers and accompanied artists Hodan Youssouf, Jennifer Manning, Theara Yim and visual artist Sera Kassab, in the production of three video poems in langue signée québécoise (LSQ), all entirely made by deaf artists. These are unique creations that showcase the inherent poetry within Québec sign language, a language in and of itself with its specific subtleties, nuances and imagery. Phénomena is particularly honoured to offer a platform to deaf artists, who are often underrepresented in arts programming, which is also a unique opportunity for the public to meet this extremely active community.
The festival is also presenting the creations of two seasoned digital artists. The video dance project Pas d’apparat corps by Guillaume Vallée in collaboration with Torontonian choreographer Calla Durose-Moya and musician Hazy Montagne Mystique explores the psychological impacts of trauma. Moreover, indigenous artist Danya Danger, whose artistic practice is rooted within the notions of family ties and interconnectedness, brings forth the video Beading Kin. Deeply affected by this pandemic, the artist explores themes of connection, language, exhaustion and what it means to accept failure.
This 9th edition will, as usual, invite festival-goers to walk up and down the streets of the Mile End while experiencing a neighbourhood-specific soundwalk – a very first for the Festival. Accompanied by the voice of comedian Christian Vanasse, the public is invited to discover the exhibition of 3D luminous artwork created by lighting designer and scenographer Lucie Bazzo and displayed on the windows of local shops. A podcast composed of eight stops, this stroll in the neighbourhood is peppered with historical anecdotes as told by Mile End Memories’ Melanie Leavitt.
Last but not least, Phénomena is especially proud to collaborate once more with dancer and choreographer Peter Trosztmer for the presentation of an in-situ creation, Falling Slowly. This 30-minute-long piece will be presented 5 times for an audience of 40 people on a parking lot next to an aged industrial building in Griffintown.
For full details on the programming, visit www.electriques.ca/phenomena/en/festival/2020