project image
Monika Sobczak

first performed on October 3, 2014
Contemporary Calgary, Calgary, Canada
performed once in 2014


Los Angeles, CA / Calgary, Canada / Perth, Australia


“Sibling Rivers” is a live intermedia performance installation that bridges three sites—Perth, Western Australia; Los Angeles, California; and Calgary, Alberta—through a dialogical exploration of the rivers that run through the heart of each city, carrying the social histories of each site. Experienced collectively, in dialogue within the defined space and time of the performance (one hour), these embedded/embodied histories call forth transnational themes of colonialism, cultural erasure and economic conflict.

For our world premiere performance at the 2014 Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival (M:ST 7), collaborators Allison Wyper (Los Angeles, USA); Sam Fox (Perth, Australia); Terrance Houle (Calgary, Canada) presented live, mediated and recorded actions that critically bore witness to historical and contemporary points of contention while foregrounding the contingent subjectivities of the artists—each a resident with deep familial roots in their respective city. Motivated by the feminist ethos “the personal is political,” our collective actions claim the river space as public and also deeply intimate—as home to many, living and deceased.

Large scale projections of site-responsive video performances in and around the Swan, Los Angeles, and Yukon Rivers, plus a real-time performance by Fox in his studio in Perth, were complemented by live performances by Houle and Wyper with local artists Trey Madsen and Dani Navia. The live performers created a “river” of dirt, rock and sand in the space, using their bodies to shape the river banks. Navia created a living mural on Wyper’s body with spray paint. Houle bathed in dirt and communicated in Native Sign Language, evoking his indigenous Blackfoot culture.

The video element featured performance, videography and sound contributions from Chris Dirksen, Ella-Rose Trew, Aes Tchiachovsky, Sete Tele, Erika Katrina Barbosa, Rafa Esparza and Sebastian Hernandez.

Our project draws upon the practice of citizen journalism to investigate and report on specific local histories, undertaking primary research at sites and direct engagement and exchange with oppressed communities through consultation, interviews and artistic production. In an ongoing dialogical collaboration, we collectively witness, testify and draw out the social memories of our sites through performance, text and video documentation.

“Sibling Rivers” was created primarily via online collaboration, and is available for touring, with a workshop on remote collaboration that grew out of our process.