photo: Yann Pocreau

Sarah Wendt and Pascal Dufaux  are multidisciplinary artists living and working in Tiohtiá:ke/Mooniyang/Montreal. Their collaborative practice began in 2017 and involves sculpture, installation, video, and performance.

The pair’s first work, “Strange mood and dissonant feelings,” is a video-installation performance exploring the perception and memory of a body dancing in front of a live video archive of its own gestures. “Strange mood” was presented at Mois Multi in Quebec City and at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, among other venues.

In 2018, they developed “The mountain moves while my fingernails grow,” a speculative fable about the relationship between ephemeral human temporality and geological time. This became their first solo exhibition, presented at AXENÉO7 in Gatineau in 2019, and at The Rooms in St. John’s in 2022. A choreographic film version was later produced at Tangente Danse and presented at festivals in Canada and Scotland.

In 2021–22, the duo presented “Hétérotopias,” a performance with two dancers, live sound, and mobile sculpture, at festivals in multiple provinces, and for a residency at the Musée d’art de Joliette.

Their project “Ectoplasmic Studies,” first exhibited at the Musée d’art contemporain des Laurentides in 2021, was later developed as a solo exhibition at l’Écart in Rouyn-Noranda, QC, in 2023. Elements of the exhibition were shown with the exhibition “Undead Archive: 100 Years of Photographing Ghosts,” at the University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery, in Winnipeg. “Ectoplasmic Studies” will tour locations in Montreal as part of the Montreal Arts Council’s 2024–25 program.

Although their work deals in themes of futurism and innovation, the artists reject technological determinism and eschew “sci-fi” labels. Although advanced technologies may be innovative, for the artists, innovation also means moving in the opposite direction, such as by simulating digital media using hand-manipulated physical materials. The result is to adopt advanced technology but not on its terms, shifting it instead into a new, “traditional” craft in which not only visual but also physical, tactile qualities are emphasized.

As artists working in tactile media, Sarah and Pascal were recently invited to Germany to conduct research with multidisciplinary artists with diverse sensory abilities, on themes of tactility and accessibility in the arts. The project was carried out as a collaboration with the ongoing project [in]operabilities, at Theatre Kampnagel in Hamburg.

From the beginning, Sarah and Pascal have been interested in how sculpture and choreography might function together, inform each other, and create the foundation for a collaborative practice in which they can produce sensory experiences, using sound, sight, and touch as modes of entry.

The artists address multiple audiences, contexts, and perspectives: performances in public space, multisensory installations, dance classes for all levels, and open-ended workshop research. Their projects centre the body, its temporality and senses, and embodied practice, in the context of the present epoch and its many kindred anxieties: environmental/climate fragility, various mental health crises, and so many others. Against this sociocultural backdrop, Wendt + Dufaux assert the pertinence of developing craft—the craft of the dancing body, of somatic making, and of sensory exploration—within the diverse context of an interdisciplinary practice.

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