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 • EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts • 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 // Ken Buera President • Sally Raab Vice-President • Lisa Benschop Treasurer • Suzen Green Secretary • Sonia Edworthy Director • Nikki Reimer Director • Renato Vitic Director • Justin Waddell Director
Staff // Tomas Jonsson Festival Director
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); andPULSE: 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 that ran between 1998-2002.
These earlier festivals and series reflected the 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 enjoyed continued community support. M:ST 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 M:ST 3 Festival presented the works of 45 artists (including artists from the UK, Brazil, and Mexico) as well as 3 curators in 35 programmed 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, postponing the M:ST 4 Festival until 2008 in order to focus on board development and organizational growth. 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’sScentbar: Fragrances for Troubled Times.
The M:ST 4 Festival was presented from October 3 to 17, 2008, and presented the works of 33 artists (including professional, mid-career, and emerging artists from across Canada, the US, the UK, and Croatia) in 72 programmed events.
Presented during July 2009, M:ST 4.5 programming consisted of a series calledRide On!, a month-long line-up of bicycle-based performative art works set in Calgary’s public summer hub, Eau Claire Market. Co-presented with TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary and the non-profit, volunteer-run Good Life Community Bike Shop, Ride On! showed four artists through a number of events and activities.
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.
We’re really excited about The New Gallery’s new online Database. They are working to add more information all the time and already have some good information about past M:ST performances on there! Many of our other member organizations have information about M:ST on their websites too, and where possible we’ve included links and information about which organizations hosted past M:ST artists and events.