Based in Vancouver, Norma consists of seven artists of diverse backgrounds who reside in Vancouver, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New York and Japan. From 2001 to 2014 Norma produced installation and performance works that employ absurdity, physical endurance and repetition in an exploration of collective identity and cultural anxiety. Norma performed their final work in January of 2014.
Former member: Ron Tran
All members of Norma are undergraduates of Emily Carr University. Specific details of current and previous post-secondary education available upon request.
Awards and scholarships
Norma was recognized at the 2011 Vancouver Mayor's Arts Awards as the outstanding Emerging Artist in the field of Public Art, nominated by Barbara Cole.
Individual awards and scholarship information available upon request.
01/14 - PuSh International Performing Arts Festival - Performance Works, Vancouver
performance ("Swan Song (for Cats)")
02/10 - Bright Light Public Art Series - Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver
11/08 - FUSE - Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
performance ("Semiotics of the Kitchen: Pussycat Dolls Remix")
06/08 - Hive2 - Centre for Digital Technology, Vancouver
performance ("Without Further Adieu")
03/08 - Group Group Show - VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Southbank,
photo ("Ghost Story") & interactive element at opening reception (whiskey/marshmallow shots)
05/05 - Clubhouse - Access ARC, Vancouver
performance & installation (“Clubhouse”)
02/05 - PuSh Performing Arts Festival - The Roundhouse, Vancouver
11/03 - LIVE Performance Biennial - Access ARC, Vancouver
performance (“Walk Walk Shuffle”)
07/03 - Physical Violence - Melriches Café, Vancouver
05/03 - Expect Delays - Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver
performance ("Dog Day Afternoon")
11/02 - Partytime - ECIAD Media Gallery, Vancouver
04/02 - Security - ECIAD Media Gallery, Vancouver
10/01 - Skin: surface and identity - ECIAD Concourse Gallery, Vancouver
Lectures / artist talks
03/09 Langara College, Vancouver
06/05 Access Artist Run Centre, Vancouver
02/05 The Roundhouse, Vancouver
11/04 Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, Vancouver
05/03 Artspeak Gallery (in conjunction with Access ARC), Vancouver
Gill, Alexandra. “Nudge, nudge, I’m an art object.” The Globe and Mail. Tuesday, April 22nd, 2003. p. R3.
Hadley + Maxwell. "For Norma." Clubhouse exhibition catalougue essay, May 2005.
Hockenhull, Oliver & MacKenzie, Alex, ed. DAMP: Contemporary Vancouver Media Art. Anvil Press 2008.
Maclennan, Catherine. “Do You Think This is Easy? Norma’s ‘Dog Day Afternoon’.” The Lamp (online publication). August 2003. www.thelamp.ca.
Rowe, Dan. “A Quiet Infiltration of Art into Public Life.” The Vancouver Sun. Monday, March 31, 2003.
Roy, Marina. “How to Do Things With Art: ‘Performative Utterances’ in Photography.” Prefix Photo 5/1 (2004), 32-33.
For any inquiries, please email email@example.com
Swan Song (for Cats)
January 2014 / PuSh International Performing Arts Festival / Performance Works, Vancouver
For their last (and most preparationally-intensive) performance, Norma finally realised a 10-year dream by donning home-made Andrew Lloyd Webber-style cat costumes. The artists next proceeded to assemble progressively elaborate stage sets with hand-made props built from junk piles and studio detritus, then used the settings to recreate a series of YouTube cat videos. The performance ended with a synchronized rendition of Elaine Paige's famed swan song, Memory.
The Maru Cat is Playing With Box
Cat Tape Experiment
Cat decides to take a bath
Cat In A Shark Costume Chases A Duck While Riding A Roomba
Jumping cat (epic fail)
Fat Cat in in pot
Maru with Bag
Cat and Ceiling Fan (Nokia commercial)
Bright Light Public Art Series / February 2010 / Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver
As part of the Bright Lights Public Art Series in East Vancouver during the 2010 Olympic Games, Andy Livingstone Field featured Brawl, a staged evening performance dramatically lit by field lights normally used for sporting events. Tying in ideas of sport and spectacle at the crossroads of two contrasting areas of the city, Brawl highlighted the fine line between violence and theatre. Extending the collective's interest in exploring group identity, public space and collective behaviour, the megaphone-powered scripted performance included actions and texts borrowed from various films and historic Vancouver riots. Soccer-style scarves with texts from the performance ("We're number two/Who the fuck are you?" and "Who's on first?/Yes.") were given away to spectators.
Photos courtesy Artspeak Gallery and Marianne Bos
SEMIOTICS OF THE KITCHEN: Pussycat Dolls Remix
November 2008 / "FUSE" / Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
Starting with Martha Rosler's seminal feminist video "Semiotics of the Kitchen", Norma choreographed a dance to the Pussycat Doll's song, "Don't Cha", utilizing all of the original physical movements. The dance was performed four times during the evening for the November 2008 edition of FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Without Further Adieu
2008 / "Hive2" / grunt gallery & Centre for Digital Technology, Vancouver
Norma proposed a durational, looping performance for the Hive2 event. The performance, lasting 3 hours, consisted of six members acting out an introductory speech over and over again. One at a time, Norma members took to a podium to recite a speech thanking the organizers of the event, delivering an inspirational quote, and lastly toasting to the evening with a drink before introucing, "without further adieu", the next speaker, ad infinitum. Each performer rehearsed gestures and performed the exact same text (with the exception of a unique inspirational quote for each turn), which subsequently became more and more dynamic as the group came under the influence of repeated toasting. The effect of the work intended to be both irritating and humourous; as patrons came in and out of shows, they would be stuck in a perpetually looping, skipping record-like introductory moment, which added to the "many shows under one roof" HIVE experience.
Images courtesy of grunt gallery
Summer 2006 / As part of the Public Acts 1-29 series curated by Christine Shaw, this project is filed as Act 26. Nature.
March 2008 / "Group Group Show" / VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Australia
Norma undertook the task of occupying a ghost town in BC, Bradian, for a period of four days in July of 2006. During this time, Norma camped near the bank of a river during the night, and performed a series of tasks to communicate with the town amidst nature's repossession of the decrepit house remains during the light of day. Folky or "primitive" acts of carving, dowsing, drinking rituals, fireside meditation, myth articulation, chanting, berry pilgrimages, and bear hunts were the tools used to commune. The culmination of this project, so far, resulted in two images: one depicting a group of individuals around an urban campfire, and the other a found photo showing five explorers in front of a dilapidated house. Entitled "Ghost Story", this diptych questions the credibilty of the expedition and the accompanying mythology of speaking with nature.
Top photo credit: Mark Dudiak
June 2005 / Access Artist Run Centre, Vancouver
Access Artist Run Centre became, for the duration of the exhibition, a clubhouse. Part installation, part performance document, this multi-faceted project brought together the artists' interest in unscripted, social interactions with the structured context of a gallery exhibition. For five weeks Norma used the gallery as a "home base" for their performances and collective activities. Games (ping pong, Scrabble, etc.), group portraits, uniforms, memorabilia, and a variety of other accoutrements associated with clubs and social organizations comprised the installation. Members of Norma met at Clubhouse on evenings prior to their public performances: group loitering around Vancouver. As a practical, working gathering space, the structure of the clubhouse-installation shifted as the artists tailored it to suit their particular tastes and requirements. Influenced as much by boy bands as contemporary art practices, Norma's Clubhouse circumvents traditional expectations of the gallery space, and paints a sociable portrait of the artist in contemporary culture.
PuSh Performing Arts Festival / February 2005 / grunt gallery & The Roundhouse, Vancouver
The work begins with finding actors. Each of the eight members of Norma will choose possible actors to play their 'character' from headshots and cvs (from the collections of the UBC Theatre Department, Studio 58, Langara College, SFU, and others). As a group, Norma will conduct interviews and will make eight final choices from this pool. Selection will not be made by acting style (ie: there's no audition necessary) but according to the actors' willingness to collaborate and experiment with their craft. The final actors will be given a copy of Roselee Goldberg's text, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present, and will be introduced to Norma's past works through a short, informal artist's talk. Their instructions for this work will be simple: they are to read as much as they like of Goldberg's text, take as much as they like out of the artist talk, and create amongst themselves a collaborative performance work. This work will be kept secret from all Norma members until it is performed for the public at the Grunt Gallery/ Roundhouse Centre in February 2005. The actors will be paid with Norma's artist fee.
Walk Walk Shuffle
LIVE Performance Biennial / November 2003 / Access ARC, Vancouver
This performance began with the 8 members of Norma assembled in rows of 4 in the centre of the gallery. Their heads were covered (and their vision obscured) by items of their own clothing. Unaccompanied by music, the group performed a series of line dances; to keep in time, members counted aloud to themselves and each other in 4-beat measures. As each dance progressed, the line formations steadily deteriorated. Lines were reformed after each dance ended. The performance lasted 3 hours.
Physical Violence / July 2003 / Melriches Café, Vancouver
Norma was invited to participate in a show called "Physical Violence", which consisted of a series of wrestling matches between the curator, Anthony Schrag, and a variety of performers to determine who was the "better" artist. Members of Norma wore matching track suits and performed a number of warm ups, drills, chants, synchronized dance moves and outlandish displays of team spirit prior to and between the wrestling bouts. The curator was "dogpiled" repeatedly and lost every match.
Dog Day Afternoon
Expect Delays / May 2003 / Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver
The performers occupied a small public park in a formation similar to the "idealized public" represented in schematic drawings of civic spaces. Participants were assembled in small groups, or alone, and performed repetitive actions and dialogue for a full workday (9:00am - 5:00pm). The script was taken from the 1975 film, Dog Day Afternoon . A billboard similar to those that advertise new housing developments was placed in the space, exactly reflecting the scene playing out behind.Click here to read the performance script.
November 2002 / ECIAD Media Gallery, Vancouver
Norma locked themselves into the gallery space, and, visible to the audience through a large window and glass door, blew up 2500 party balloons. Participants donned Hawaiian outfits and were accompanied throughout the performance by party music played on a vintage record player. The audience was invited to watch, but were prevented from entering the space. Apart from bathroom breaks and pizza delivery, the door to the gallery remained locked. Partytime lasted 7 hours. The gallery was open to the public for two days following the performance.
April 2002 / ECIAD Media Gallery, Vancouver
Norma fundraised for two months to prepare for this installation work. The collective hired a security guard to 'guard' the gallery space for the duration of one work week (5 days, 8 hours a day). Visitors were required to sign in upon entry to the space. Those with ID numbers containing arbitrarily defined digits (0's and 2's on Monday, 3's and 6's on Tuesday, and so on) were asked to immediately leave the gallery. If they refused, the security guard escorted them out. A surveillance camera broadcast a live feed of the installation to a monitor positioned outside the gallery in a public space.
Skin: explorations of surface and identity was an exhibition curated by Norma, featuring interdisciplinary work by second year students at ECIAD. The exhibition opened with a collective performance wherein the audience was invited to duct tape the artists to the wall. The performers remained inside their 'cocoons' until they became too uncomfortable to continue, at which point they cut themselves out with scissors or blades. The performance lasted three hours.