Why We Exist
M:ST was originally conceived and created by The New Gallery, one of Canada’s oldest artist-run centres, to produce a bi-annual performance art festival. The term “performance art” describes art practices that originate from a visual or media arts background and involve the live presence of the artist. It can include happenings, public interventions, culture jamming, video, film, spoken word, installation, or live web streaming.
Earlier festivals and events from the 1970’s onward (Workshop, Space for Space, Ex.120) 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 Calgary’s urban landscape. 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. Since 2001 we’ve continure to grow. Aside from the bi-annual festival M:ST also presents interim programming. This started in 2004 with M:ST 2.5 Grand Action, a three day seminar event that included studio visits at the Banff Centre, a panel discussion at the Alberta College of Art + Design, as well as a comunity party and networking session. 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.
Since 2001 the M:ST festival has brought the works of over 250 artists to the Southern Alberta area. We collaborate with Arts Commons, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Alberta College of Art + Design, TRUCK Gallery, Stride Gallery, The New Gallery, The Nickle Galley, Calgary Society of Independant Filmmakers, and EMMEDIA to create a uniquely collaborative and participatory environement. 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.
Our objective is to showcase original, diverse, entertaining, and thought-provoking performative works. The term “performative” describes practices that originate from a visual or media arts discourse and involve the live presence of the artist. Presenting a wide range of media, M:ST’s programming is responsive to issues in contemporary art, fostering discourse crucial for the growth and progression of performative practices and promoting dialogue through panel discussions, workshops, and dissemination activities.