Two Story Café festival

Keely Dakin
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The sixth annual Two Story Café diverges from the straight and narrow this year, with an angle towards the culture of the queer.

The Indigenous People’s Artist Collective (IPAC) began the Two Story Café festival six years ago aiming to bend the boundaries of art between traditional and modern art. “IPAC is all about mixing the traditional with contemporary,” said Terri-Lynn McDonald, program manager with IPAC.

The idea of the festival is to mix art forms, and this year the opening night of the Two Story Café will begin with a focus on queer culture.

Pitos Waskochepayis, meaning Alternate Electricity in Cree, will celebrate two-spirited and queer culture.

“The collective is mixing the contemporary and queer arts together,” McDonald said.

“(It is) bridging the gap I guess, between the queer culture, the First Nations culture the artists’ culture, and new media culture,” she said.

“It is mixing your traditional Cree heritage … with this new media art as well as focusing on the queer culture, the queer identity,” McDonald said.

“The first night is trying to build that ethical space between the queer culture and the non-queer culture,” she said. “That’s this strange mix of, you know, sexual identity, cultural identity and new media works together.”“(We are) trying to find that ethical space in between where we can explore both and integrate one into the other.”

“So that means, integrating art forms, multidisciplinary art forms in this space, where we can explore both of these things.”

Videos focusing on queer identity will be screened, along with visual artwork and performance art.

McDonald says they are building on a movement within First Nations and especially the Cree culture, to create greater queer expression.

Artist, Jason Baerg draws on his experience growing up on the West Flats along with his queer identity for his Running 2 from home, show currently at the Mann Art Gallery.

“(It is) bridging the gap I guess, between the queer culture, the First Nations culture the artists’ culture, and new media culture.” Terry-Lynn McDonald

The Prince Albert Art Centre will host the festival on Friday and Saturday, where the Two Story Café refocuses its attention on the broader focus of artistic collisions between tradition and modern art.

The will be a mixture of multi-disciplinary art forms, from theatre to spoken word, from visual to performance art, to music and storytelling.

Michel Boutin, artistic director, said that IPAC wanted the Two Story Café to challenge the idea of normal art even on Friday and Saturday, by including action art.

 “An action piece is a piece of work that actually involves action,” Boutin said, “An action that becomes an art piece.”

Often they are issue based, or intend to make social commentary, however sometimes it is more thought based, Boutin said.

“Action art usually, traditionally has been associated with protest art.”

One performer will be serving boiled water from Prince Albert’s own river during the event as part of his action piece.

“We live in a society where we think we’re attached to our technology but when the reality is to have safe water and a safe life, we can do it ourselves,” Boutin said.

Artists performing or displaying over the three days include Duane Linklater and Tanya Lukin-Linklater, Joseph Naytowhow, Violet Naytowhow and Talla Tootoosis, Kevin Wasaquate, John McDonald and Trevor Amyotte.

Over the three day festival around 60 to 80 people walk attend each night, with several coming from across the province and even from Manitoba and Alberta.  


Organizations: IPAC, First Nations, Prince Albert Mann Art Gallery

Geographic location: Manitoba, Alberta

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