Edmonton is known as the Festival City, and every year there are lots of great festivals for all sorts of arts enthusiasts. This September, Edmonton will host the country's only annual performance art festival. The 15th Annual Visualeyez festival solicits proposals each year and selects the best artists to showcase their work at this week-long event. Here’s what you can expect at Visualeyez 2014.

Focusing On Movement: The Physical, Spiritual and Sociological

Each year the festival gets a new theme, and this year's theme is Movement. Latitude 53 announced it on Facebook on April 23, giving artists exactly one month before submissions closed on May 23. Kinetic and spiritual movement already dominates the world of performance art, so it will be interesting to see how each artist incorporates this theme into their own physical expressions.

Todd Janes, the festival's founder and curator, encouraged everyone to approach Movement from a sociological standpoint. He hoped the theme would foster dialogue about the disadvantages of old age and disability, the physical and emotional vulnerabilities associated with urban settings, and the connection between individuals and society.

Last year's Visualeyez theme was Vulnerability, and it makes sense for Janes to continue his campaign to reexamine human interactions; the year before that was Loneliness, so the continuation of progress is evident. Janes created the festival fifteen years ago as part of Latitude 53, the oldest artist center in the city of Edmonton. Still an operating center today, it continues to support contemporary artists with exhibitions in their gallery, talks and panels, and other special events.

More Than Just A Festival

Visualeyez isn't just about celebrating performance artists. It's also a place where artists can connect with others within their community via community meals, group activities, discussion groups, and others' performances. You can be sure everyone's contributing to the creative collaborations that take place throughout the festival; every invited artist must commit to the full week's line-up in order to participate.

Last year's roster of performance artists included acts like Stormtrooper armor-clad social media renegade Corporal Outis, feminist Emma-Kate Guimond of the WIVES performance collective, and urban design artist Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte. Other notable acts included Sara French, whose three-part series “Diogenes the Cynic” reenacted the ancient Greek philosopher’s anecdotes, as well as Grey Muldoon, whose Code Blue: Dolly & Kenny Variation incorporated lights, cameras, potatoes, and country music. There’s no word yet on who will be performing this year, but if last year is any indication, the performances will be unforgettable.

Volunteer for a Good Cause

Each year, Visualeyez solicits volunteers to tend bar, serve, and greet guests. These art lovers give their time to promote the visibility and accessibility of artistic expression. Many of the volunteers are Latitude 53 members who already recognize Edmonton's creative potential; Visualeyez brings outsiders and locals alike into an alien culture, where their understanding of art can stretch and deepen.

The last day of the festival, the artists and guests will once again gather on Latitude 53's pop-up patio for a bittersweet finale party. Last year’s finale party featured some great music and artists, and several Grand Market vendors were on scene to showcase local products. This year’s patio party will take place on September 15 from 4 to 9 PM.

Visualeyez is one of Edmonton’s most beloved arts festivals, and for good reason. The talent on display this year is set to amaze, and the infamous finale party will be a night to remember. Come see great art, enjoy a few great meals, and engage in a vibrant discussion about the Canadian arts community. At Visualeyez, it isn’t hard to see why Edmonton truly is the Festival City.

Posted by Sarah MacDonald on

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