Real Reality (RR)

REAL REALITY (RR) — Residencies | Collaborations | Site Installations | Performances | Community Make Art Projects + Workshops
7 December 2022 – 28 January 2023

Geneviève Johnson
Bran Mackie
Sarah Emery Clark

Material, data, movement, making, and interactive collaboration expand perceptions of reality. Through the sensing body the artists explore and express perspectives that connect us to the world.

GENEVIÈVE JOHNSON | Threading Side by Side
digital + fibre installation and performance

Image: courtesy of Ruane Dumler

Threading Side By Side
I am investigating the human body and its embodied memory through live and on-screen exploration of movement triggered by words and the spectrum of images they imply.

Through an on-going process of transformation, I connect the body to the world by creating durational performances with nature outside and in, inviting differences and flaws into the creation of poems in motion. My practice is based in Butoh art in which the performance takes form through the unfolding of slow movements like a live-sculpture creation in process.

This embodied visual art practice connects audience-participants to themselves, their environment and others in the present moment while exploring parts of unknown within. It reveals their unique ways of being and interacting through witnessing the construction of their own Landscape Under Skin Theatre.

Fabric and fibers are tropes in my performance-installation practice. It connects my work to craft arts often put aside as lesser arts because done by female. It reveals my desire to highlight communities and people that are put aside in our society (e.g.: women, LGBTQ+, people with special need, suffering from mental illness or drug addictions…) and the inequities that this brings.

The quilted path project Threading Side by Side is a metaphor of how communities are made of diverse and different pieces connecting in their own unique ways, and it is through these connections that the whole can appear. Because the path can as well be worn as a second skin, it also becomes a reflection on the transformative potential of the body, its porousness to the world around.

Invitation to the Community:

You are invited to attach your own knitted piece to the quilted path.
When you visit the gallery, take a journey along the threads by bringing a knitted or crocheted piece – of your own making or found – that you will attach to the quilted path
or leave on-site to be attached by the artist.
Create or select the piece with a thought, wish, or person in mind:
as if weaving your very personal meaningful story in it.
Leave a part of yourself with this art project as a metaphor of how community is made of diverse voices, connecting in unique ways to create strength.


I am an established professional Butoh dance artist, performer, and poet excited in transitioning to the visual art field. Using the sculptural aspect of my dance practice, I am exploring and actively shaping creations around the moving body on film and in durational performance-installation.

I have been performing since 1995 in Montreal, Toronto, and Nanaimo. In 1999, after practicing Butoh in Canada, I studied in Japan with Kazuo and Yoshito Ohno, Min Tanaka, Akiko Motofuji, Kinya “Zulu” Tsuruyama, and the Dairakudakan. I completed an interdisciplinary PhD in 2008 from University of Quebec in Montreal, investigating the plural body in my practice, interweaving Butoh, dance, theatre, and poetry to establish new ways to create, perform, and train. Since 2006, I am collaborating with artist Holly Bright in Nanaimo, using my creative language of poetry in motion – Landscape Under Skin Theatre. I am developing further my passion for creating dance on film through Vancouver Island University Digital Media Studies, mentoring with visual artist and filmmaker Evann Siebens, as well as joining Katrina McPherson’s “Screendance in the Landscape” residency this coming spring in Scotland.

My work is often said to be unclassifiable as my art crosses boundaries: meshing dance, poetry, film, and visual art together. It never takes the traditional path of a story unfolding chronologically but rather reveals itself through embodied impressions from images colliding. My art meanders in the in-between, more interested in the journey it takes than the arrival point. It reflects the interdisciplinary methodology I am invested in since my doctorate studies investigating the moving body in performance.

This work continues my exploration of the fluid, transformative, and connective states of the human body in movement with others and the environment.

Credits for the Nanaimo Community Film Projection:

Performance and Text — Lolly B, Samantha Letourneau, Nicola Jackson, Renee Poisson

Music — Guillaume Nagy

Quilted Path Creation — Marcelle Moisan, Nanaimo Community

Choreography, Camera, Edit, Voice, Soundscape — Geneviève Johnson

Credits for the Threading In-Between Film Projection:

Participants — Cleo Butcher, Valery Arthur, Angela Somerset, Renée Poisson Cathy Coates, Lydia Karpenko, Zoe Klassen-Somerset, Bran Mackie, Erica Livsey, Keila Neufeld, SD71 Highland Secondary School – ENTER2 Program Cohort

Music — Guillaume Nagy

Quilted Path Creation — Marcelle Moisan, Nanaimo Community, Comox Valley Community

Facilitation, Camera, Edit, Voice, Soundscape — Geneviève Johnson

BRAN MACKIE | For The Future
material installation

Image: courtesy of the artist

For The Future is a slow and dedicated investment in possibilities that can grow out of material relationships, intuitively reflecting the ways in which we connect to ourselves and our surroundings. Threads between materials and subjects form like neural pathways, both deliberately and accidentally, weaving a network of perception and experience. These transferences reveal the behaviour of experience and memory and how they manifest in the body, the spirit, and the environment. Grounded in the present but ever looking forward, For The Future is part of an ongoing exploration in sustainability, hope and perseverance.


Bran Mackie lives and works on southern Vancouver Island. Through a multimedia material practice, Bran uses the collection and distillation of found objects to examine the ways in which liminal spaces we inhabit connect and inform our experiences to the material world. With a sculptural practice which is grounded in drawing, Bran’s practice encompasses the use of textiles, ceramics, and found and gathered objects. Multimedia and experimental, his works are ever-evolving, and often informed by contemporary painting, expressionism and installation. For the Future distills an ongoing material research practice which examines closely how we are here, both in the present and going forward.

SARAH EMERY CLARK | Let’s be Islands Together
performative and interactive installation

Image: courtesy of the artist

A new exploratory work, Let’s be Islands Together, engages community
in examining how we shape our stories. This project delves into how we connect
with each other, transforming this connection into a creative material.


I began exploring the metrics of loneliness as Covid became endemic and the world started to
open up. Having anticipated that my own feelings of loneliness and disconnection would ease, I
was surprised when this failed to be true. As I dug into the subject, I learned that loneliness
arises from a perceptual disconnect between our inner and outer worlds. My experience started
to coalesce around the tension between longing and belonging. Society had changed. I too had
changed, and had come to expect so little of the world.

Through my research, I discovered the important work done, pre-covid, by Claudia Hammond
and the BBC Loneliness Experiment. As I learned about the proven relationships between
chronic loneliness and both individual and community health, I began thinking deeply about
ways that I might use my practice not only to initiate repair in myself, but to activate my
community around the subject.

My residency at CVAG marks the first exploratory phase of Let’s Be Islands Together, an
arts-based research project examining loneliness. The aim of LBIT is to inspire conversation
about our varied experiences of loneliness and to explore how we might build connection and
compassion as an antidote to isolation. This interactive project is for anyone who has
experienced loneliness. That is to say, all of us.

There are many moving parts to the project, and I look forward to making my process – with it’s
inherent flailings and failings – completely transparent. This is intentional, as I believe the first
step in resolving my own perceptual loneliness is to practice vulnerability.

It begins with a call that responds to community voices. Using reciprocity as a guiding principle,
I’m designing an experimental system for gathering information; an anonymous survey that
incorporates a feedback loop. Your responses activate me to visualize your data, which you can
watch live-streamed in real time.

The ask is for both of us to engage as equals working towards a common goal. I’m making the
first move by asking you to dance, but what follows is collaborative. Unlike in the standard,
hierarchical model of data gathering, this process is designed to be circular. As you experience
the impact of our exchange with immediacy, your data becomes a mirror rather than
disappearing into a void.

It’s a survey that’s also a conversation. Through our mutual investment in sharing our
experiences of loneliness, we build connection and collective knowledge.

Throughout my residency at CVAG, I will be exploring various modalities of visually representing
our stories. The first of these is performance: broadcasting the physical actions that I take in
responding to your data. I become a machine that performs a pre-determined task when you
respond to the survey. This marks the relationship between us in time, captured in sequences of

Through these movements – the tasks I’m performing – I will be testing theories about how
different materials interact with data. Can loneliness be quantified by weight or density? Does is
absorb or reflect light? How does loneliness move?

Next, I’ll be exploring how to represent our individual experiences of loneliness as a collective
organism. What shape do we become, together? When we stack, weave, or animate our
experiences together, how do we impact one another?

I like to think of this work as Slow Data; translating data into art at the speed of conversation.
As an arts-based research project, I can only theorize about the outcome of this work. My hope
is that a story might emerge about the health of our community. I get to discover this story
alongside you. I’m following your stream, with no preconcieved idea of where it’s taking us.
My hope is that my questions will lead to deeper and deeper questions. I’m here to learn.

Real Reality (RR) is part of the OPEN ⋮ REALITY convergent program at the Comox Valley Art Gallery.