M:ST’s main activity is the organization and presentation of a biennial performative art festival. This Festival is a collaborative endeavour between several Southern Alberta arts organizations. This collaborative structure allows the Festival to represent each organization’s mandate and audience, while providing opportunities for cross-disciplinary and inter-organizational exchange. The result is a unique participatory context, where artists and audience experience contemporary performative work outside of more traditional festival or gallery models.
M:ST is committed to presenting performative works from a variety of disciplines that reflect current issues and practices in contemporary art. Through exhibitions, performances, and events, M:ST fosters the development of performative art practices among local, national and international artistic communities. M:ST’s role in presenting professional, high quality cultural experiences continues to grow, increasing opportunities for education and critical discourse surrounding contemporary performative practices.
What is Performative Art?
The term “performative” describes practices that originate from a visual or media arts background and involve the live presence of the artist. Performative art draws primarily from the tradition of performance art, but can also include public interventions, video, film, spoken word, installation, or live web streaming.
M:ST Festivals are organized and produced with the dedicated assistance and support of our member organizations. Our current member organizations are:
Alberta College of Art + Design • Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers • EMMEDIA Gallery and Production Society • Arts Commons • The Nickle Galleries • Stride Gallery • The New Gallery • TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary • Untitled Arts Society • Southern Alberta Art Gallery • TRAPDOOR • University of Lethbridge Art Gallery
Board // Ginger Carlson, President • Nicole Kelly-Westman, Vice-President • Ashley Bedet, Secretary • Ken Buera, Treasurer • Palmer Olson, Director • Sophie-Anne Belisle, Director • Jake Klein-Waller, Director • Kaylee Maciejko, Director • Bogdan Cheta, Director •
Staff // Tomas Jonsson, Artistic Director • Desiree Nault, Administrative Director • Kaitlynn Smart, Festival Strategist
History of Mountain Standard Time
The Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival (M:ST) was originally conceived and created by The New Gallery, one of Canada’s oldest artist-run centres. The New Gallery was (and continues to be) part of an active and vibrant artist-run community in Calgary with a collective history of fostering and promoting time-based art works. At the time of its creation, M:ST represented the latest in a series of successful interdisciplinary festivals that combined art forms through the collaborative efforts of the Calgary arts community.
The first known performance festival in Calgary was in 1971 organized by arts collective WORKSHOP. Held outdoors in Prince’s Island Park, the festival combined theatre, visual arts, dance and giant, live-action puppetry in a multimedia presentation that had never been seen before or repeated since. Subsequent festivals in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s combined emerging arts disciplines like video and contemporary performance with more established forms like film and dance. These festivals were the beginning of what is now a well-established history of collaboration between Calgary’s artist-run centres in presenting works of critical importance to the arts community. The New Gallery worked in cooperation with Second Story Gallery (now TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary), Stride Gallery, EMMEDIA and the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) to present three such festivals: Media Blitz (November/December 1988); Media Blitz 2 (November/December 1989); and PULSE: an Intermedia Festival (January 1991).
Throughout the month of April 1999, The New Gallery produced EX.120, a five-day, 24-hour-a-day run of continuous performative art. This project was a spin-off of Space for Space, a semi-regular performance art open-mic project started by Tammy McGrath and that ran between 1998-2002.
These earlier festivals reflected the community’s support of a growing and diverse local performative arts community. Building on this tradition, the first M:ST was organized to celebrate this established arts community by presenting works from local artists alongside visiting artists from across Canada and the world. Spanning the month of April 2001, M:ST 1 featured over 30 artists presenting work within the urban landscape of Calgary. M:ST 1 included workshops, lectures and panel discussions and created important dialogue between local, national and international artists.
As a result of the overwhelming success of the festival, M:ST was established as a biennial event. M:ST 2 concentrated performative works into a two-week period from April 2-17, 2003 and again showcased a diverse range of local, national, and international artists in venues and public spaces throughout Calgary. M:ST 2 grew from seven to eight arts organizations and incorporated as its own society in September of 2003.
In October of 2004, with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts Off the Radar: Initiatives in Critical Thinking grant, CJSW 91 FM, and ACAD, M:ST presented M:ST 2.5 Grand Action. This was a three-day seminar event that included studio visits at the Banff Centre; a public Grand Action Panel Discussion held at the Alberta College of Art and Design; and Community Party and Networking Session held in the Kaboom Room at the Uptown Theater. The weekend events were concluded with the M:ST Annual General Meeting held at The New Gallery.
In 2005 M:ST 3 expanded to a regionally based event, including the participation of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge and the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff. The
festival presented the works of 45 artists (including artists from the UK, Brazil, and Mexico) as well as showcased the work of 3 curators in 35 events. M:ST 3 also included RESIDUAL, a significant retrospective of local, national, and international performance art ephemera presented in the +15 vitrines in the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts, as well as increased attendance, community support, recognition, and media attention.
From 2006 – 2007 M:ST again presented a season of interim programming with M:ST 3.5, and invested in board development and organizational growth, resulting in the postposing of MST 4. M:ST 3.5 performances included Pablo Helguerra’s traveling School of Panamerican Unrest, the audio-based Telephone, 20 Questions and Other Guessing Games, and Shawna Dempsey and Lori Millan’s Scentbar: Fragrances for Troubled Times presented at Art Central.
Nicole Burisch became M:ST’s first full-time festival Director in January 2008. That year the festival moved it’s offices into CommunityWise (Old Y Centre for Community Organizations) which greatly stabilized the organization. M:ST 4 also occurred in 2008, this iteration of the festival presented over 25 artists and ambitiously curated themed performances, panel discussions, a blog, two mini publications (Performance and Personae by Margaret Dragu and Public Incorporated by Tomas Jonsson) and gallery exhibitions. Themes included Siteology, Split Personalities and Event Architecture. Notable artists in this festival included Adrian Stimson’s exhibition Old Sun at TRUCK Gallery, and his corresponding performance Buffalo Boy’s Battle of Little Big Horny. At Stride Gallery The Cedar Tavern Singers presented Art Snob Solution Phase II and performed in-conjunction with this exhibition. M:ST and The New Gallery also collaborated to bring the exhibition David Zack: Wizard!?, Perturber!? Possessed! Which was curated by Istvan Kantor and also accompanied by a performance from Kantor. M:ST 4 also saw notable performance by Movement Movement, Duncan Speakman and Stephan Schulz. 2008 was also the year that M:ST and FLUID Movement Arts Festival co-presented the Performance Creation Canada Conference.
In July 2009, M:ST 4.5, Goodlife Community Bike Shop and TRUCK Gallery co-presented Ride On! a month long line-up of bicycle-based performative art works in Eau Claire Market,
M:ST 5 took place in October 2010 and the works presented were again organized thematically; Migrant Media, Craft Off, and Mimesis: Art Imitating Life. Each theme was accompanied by a panel discussion. Local performances included local artist’s Suzen Green and Ryan Statz’s How to Look for Work in the Big City, Chris Dadge and Rosanna Terracciano, and Wednesday Lupypciw’s The Ladies 500 Meter Challenge. Nationally recognized artists included Donald Abad + Thierry Marceau, and Dave Dyment + Scott Rogers’ Diogenes Lecture. M:ST 5 was accompanied by a publication with essays by Nicole Burisch, Kari McQueen and Karilynn Ming Ho, along with a poster describing M:ST’s history and the history of performative arts in Calgary. The publication was launched at John Snow House, accompanied by a performance by karen elaine spencer.
M:ST 5.5 Making Way occurred throughout the spring and summer of 2012, and included BBB Johannes Deimling and Marcel Sparman’s PAS Performance Art Studies, Adrian Stimson and Rebecca Belmore’s Contemporary Indigenous Performance Workshop, John Grzinich’s MUTOPIA and TouVA performance training. These programs provided mentorship and vital professional development opportunities for young emerging artists who are now dedicated arts professionals in Calgary and beyond.
A number of the artists in M:ST 5.5 participated in M:ST 6, which occurred in October 2012. Over 60 artists participated in this mammoth and well attended festival. Highlights include new partnerships with the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Fluid Festival, Untitled Arts Society and Pith Gallery. The festival also celebrated the 40th anniversary of W.O.R.K.S. M:ST was also proud to bring international artists Chumpon Apisuk (Thailand), Pauline Cummins (Ireland), Icaro Zorbar (Columbia), Mary Babcock (U.S.A.) and Eduardo Oramas (Colombia).
In October 2013 M:ST curated the Halloween fundraiser #yycblood at the Free Masons Hall. This was an incredibly successful outreach event and fundraiser. In collaboration with TRUCK Gallery “The Life and Times of Buffalo Boy” publication was launched in Calgary, Toronto, and Saskatoon. In August 2014 M:ST was also able to partner with the University of Lethbridge and SAAG to present Cindy Baker’s The Missing Body and contributed to Intersite Visual Art Festival’s programming later in September of that year.
October 2014 saw the 7th iteration of the festival. Highlights from M:ST 7 included a tribute night to the life and work of Kenny Doren at the National Music Centre, a workshop taught by Andreas Galeano and the inclusion of seven international artists into our programming. This festival also celebrated unprecedented representation of diverse Canadian performance artists including Chris Lloyd, John Boehme, Arbour Lake Sghool, and Adam Waldron-Blain. Other exciting installations and performances included Bogdan Cheta’s Be What You Want/A Trade based out of the project room of Stride Gallery, and Rita Mckeough’s The Lion’s Share at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery.
The M:ST Society continues to maintain the unique collaborative structure of previous festivals, and benefits from the participation of public art galleries and academic arts institutions as venues and co-presenters of a critically acclaimed performative art festival. As the only regionally based Festival of its kind, M:ST continues an important tradition of supporting performative art in Southern Alberta.