This Sunday (August 13), mia susan amir and Cease Wyss will be at Stanley Park’s Second Beach with an interactive performance that challenges perceptions of places and people. In Obscura Lucida, designed for the second annual Vines Art Festival, the two interdisciplinary artists will employ original composition, narrative storytelling, and the movement of audience and performers to reinterpret the fixed interpretations of our bodies, the land, and the hidden stories they contain.
“I’m really interested in the present unseen. So, pain in the body of the chronically ill person, or the condition of colonization in the built environment,” amir tells the Straight over the phone. “Obscura Lucida refers to what’s obscured and what’s illuminated at the same time, and when we shift our perspective and our perception, what do we perceive in a new way?”
The two artists will provide MP3 players for audience members so their experience of the score and narrative will be uninterrupted by movement across the landscape. The two performers will be interacting with each other and the landscape to “cover and uncover” parts of the visible world.
For Wyss, who is of Skwxwu7mesh, Sto:Lo, Metis, Hawaiian, and Swiss descent, the landscape plays a crucial role in the piece. Second Beach is a familiar summer destination for the city’s nature lovers and it’s also a part of B.C.’s ancient coastal identity that is spiritually connected to the land’s Indigenous people. Wyss hopes to call attention to the visual presence of industry encroaching on the natural seascape.
“Not being able to see beyond the tankers, it’s just become crippling to our spirits. We try to think that it’s not a big deal, but it is a big deal,” Wyss says. “We’re watching it physically grow before our eyes. At one time, there were no tankers out there. That was a very long time ago; we’ve just watched it grow, and in some ways we accept that it’s part of the seascape that’s out there. But when we stand up against it, what we see is a utopian worldview of it gone.”
For amir, her relationship to the theme stems from her experience as a chronically ill person who outwardly appears ablebodied.
“I’m interested in how we perceive pain in the bodies of others,” amir says. “What does it mean for us to assert different narratives, and place narratives back into our bodies, back onto the land, where they are either invisible by conditions or erased because there’s a political project of erasure that’s ongoing?”
Obscura Lucida promises a conversation between artist, land, and audience. Wyss and amir aren’t yet sure how the piece will take shape, but both are looking forward to the audience’s illuminating participation.
“Having an audience participate in the work will also give us a lot of information, because it's immersive in nature; it’s also reciprocal in nature,” amir says. “They’re invited to be in it, be implicated by it. It will be a very powerful experience to have.”
More information on Obscura Lucida can be found here.