The 13th Annual Buffalo Infringement Festival has come to an end, I survived. All of my dreams came true (especially the wet ones).
In 11 days I made quite a few costume changes, lost my mind and found it, and saw some of the most incredible art I have ever experienced in my life. I won this year’s poster contest, so it was extra special.
Thank you Montreal for giving us the Infringement Festival! I was a naked caterpillar riding my trike wearing nothing but glitter and a smile for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and World Naked Bike Ride, Marie Antoinette me was part of a nude cake fight and fetish party for Wet Dreamland where hotties suckled at my frosting spewing teets, my porn collages and newest paintings hung proudly.
I was Dazzlingly Inappropriate. I read a story based on my drawing that will eventually be a children’s book collaboration. I spun rainbow ribbons in a garden. I was a purple sparkley unicorn and Bob Ross in the same day. My rainbow butterfly wings were my day look. Oh, and no big deal but my best friend dressed up like a dog and shit in my mouth as I was Divine for our tribute to John Waters, then my dick was a monster and I was a mud shark girl for a Frank Zappa tribute to end the festival.
It was a wild wild wild ride. I am so honored to be part of this festival. My life is better because of it. I have a chance to truly be ME and express whatever weirdness lies within.
To be uncensored and completely free is priceless. I am already planning for next year! A whirlwind of every kind of art imaginable takes hold of my spirit.
Today I wake up knowing that in only a few short hours I will be in a kitty pool covered in chocolate pudding and living out my every fantasy at an erotic art show called Wet Dreamland. Last year for this event, I rode my pimped out tricycle from Babeville to the Wet Dreamland show wearing mutton chops, a beard, a tie-dye wolf shirt, and an adult diaper. Once I arrived, my friends and I stripped and painted canvases with our boobs. The Buffalo Infringement Festival is a sweet escape from reality. It is my Christmas, my bliss, my safe haven, my pride.
Its roots run deep and start in Montreal over 11 years ago. Infringement rejects corporate sponsorship and the oppression and censorship that goes along with that. It is about artistic freedom and breaking free from social norms. Infringement excludes no one. It is a state of being. The Buffalo Infringement Festival is in its 11th year.
We take inspiration from the Montreal Infringement festival started a year before us as a direct protest to the corporatized Fringe festival. Infringement is a non-profit ,non-hierarchal, grassroots art festival. It is a revolution that brings together independent, free spirited, and often controversial and experimental visual art, performance art, dance, film, theatre, and music. Everyone is accepted and celebrated in this 11 day art explosion that hits Buffalo from the last week of July to the first week of August. Art can happen anywhere, anytime, with no restrictions, and for free!
11 days of art under the radar has evolved into an all encompassing artistic free-for-all that spans the entire city. The Buffalo Infringement Festival is my favorite part of the summer and makes me proud to live in Buffalo. It revitalizes my soul and the city I live in. All of the artists and hardworking organizers and venues inspire me beyond belief.
We are now in day 7 and it’s very bittersweet. So much incredibleness has occurred already and it will all be over soon. Then I can finally sleep. But not yet. On my agenda: Wet Dreamland tonight, Sex and Body Positive night at Ol’ Wondermoth tomorrow, Wam Bam Thank You Slam at The Gypsy Parlor on Saturday, and a big block party on Allen St., and the Iffy Awards on Sunday.
I’m also really excited for Car Stories, the show that inspired this whole movement. It is interactive street theatre where the audience becomes the show by traveling from car to car. It is the show originally rejected by Montreal Fringe for being too political. Donovan King is the man who started it all. I always look forward to seeing him during both the Montreal and Buffalo Infringement festivals.
Some highlights so far include The College St. Block Party and Kidfringement. I love making art with children. They are so open and free spirited, the ultimate inspiration. I also loved the first annual Purple Sparkly Unicorn Potluck Party which turned into a Hooked on Casiophonics dance party that felt like an acid trip. The ice dragon Erica Wolfling has continued to blow minds this year. Lazy Ass Destroyer never ceases to amaze me. My pride and joy was The Worst Show Ever at Nietzsche’s, a satirical variety show filled with satire, comedy, music , and burlesque. I did burlesque as both Ronald McDonald and a creepy old man.
The street performance and open busking has been on fire this year,taking the city by storm. The other night I walked out of a bar to see two girls dressed like angels singing beautiful music, it was magical. I can’t wait for the rest of the weekend. Bring it on! Infringe Everyday!
Montreal is where my grandparents went on their honeymoon 60 years ago. I always remember my grandmother talking about it with stars in her eyes. Now that I’ve been here, I can see why. Just a six and a half hour drive from Buffalo was worth it, I fell in love with this city instantly.
It is a place full of quirky wonderfulness, freedom, beauty, oozing with art and randomness. There are so many festivals going on at once it’s almost overwhelming! Last year was my first time. I came up for the Montreal Infringement festival, started by Donovan King as a protest against censorship and corporate sponsorship, especially the Fringe Festival. Infringement festivals are about true art and causing a stir, not about money, more about politics and revolution. The Car Stories interactive street performance is always my favorite part of the Buffalo Infringement Festival, it is the reason for everything.
I loved the red light district tour I went on last year, it really moved me. Knowing that people fought/are still fighting to save an important piece of their history. I performed at the historic Cafe Cleopatra with the Candyass Cabaret. The lovely Velma Candyass welcomed us with open arms and gifts. We met our current host, Nat King Pole, at this same event. It’s incredible to think that a whole year has passed and, now, Fifi Laflea and I are back and treated as if we were family. Make sure to check out their world class monthly burlesque show!
My kitty porn art (collages of cat heads on hardcore porn bodies) was ripped off the wall of the venue by a staff member for being too lewd, people painted on me, I performed burlesque during the day, and took a walk in my underwear for a Forget the Box interview in old Montreal. That is actually how I landed the sweet gig of writing this very blog. All in all I felt bad ass and privileged to be part of this incredible festival.
Montreal is an artist’s dream. I was astonished by the incredible street art and the Fresh Paint Gallery. The busking musicians were plentiful and fantastic. All the food was cheap and delicious. Every person I met was good looking and so incredibly nice. I felt like Montreal loved me.
A year later I am back in Montreal, this time not performing because well I dropped the ball. Unfortunately we arrived late and missed the night of radical anti-establishment poetry at Cafe Jarry but I look forward to checking out the night of folk music tonight. The Soirée Folk is happening at Kafein at 8:30pm and I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Check out the June 18th programming.
Even though the Infringement happenings were missed, we caught dinner at an Irish pub called McCarolds, where we had the cutest tattooed waitress and some great burgers and beers. After the feast we headed over to Cafe Cleopatra. The strippers were so much fun! Nothing better than some beautiful and confident women strutting their stuff. I was happy to see a variety of women dancing, not just the plastic stereotypes. I even felt like a couple of strippers’ buttholes winked at me. It was glorious.
After we left the club I witnessed several cop cars stop in front of another adult establishment, the officers left their cars, hugged each other, and went inside. One lady cop was even wearing pink camouflage pants! It was amazing. I found out that the police have been donning camouflage pants and jeans for almost a year to protest changes in their pension plan. This city is just so cool, even the police are protesting injustice and hanging out at strip clubs.
I am so inspired by every breath of Montreal. I already wish I was staying longer. For those of you that will be around all weekend I urge you to check out the remainder of the Infringement Festival, it will change your life or at least inspire the hell out of you. Check out the schedule at infringemontreal.org
Featured photo by Chris Nautics from last year’s Candyass Cabaret.
Montreal is just as cool as Brooklyn, according to Steve Ferrara and Amy Priya Santos, the pair collectively known as Sunshine. The two Brooklynites have spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between the two cultural epicentres since their band’s inception in 2009. So much so that Montreal is something of a second home to them and their network of friends has become like family.
“We’ve played other cities but I feel like, outside of our general home base, we have the strongest connection to the Montreal scene as far as our music goes,” Santos said.
The band cites several reasons for this. Logistically, it makes more sense for them to travel here than other cities with similar music scenes like New Orleans or San Francisco.
“It’s probably the closest city out of the New York area that we feel has a really interesting art scene that we can commute to really easily,” said Santos.
“There are so many intricacies here. I like how people are politically active but they’re also artistic,” Ferrara added.
Additionally, they have built up lasting relationships with many people in the Montreal music scene. As a matter of fact, the duo have recorded a good part of their forthcoming album here.
Collaboration is an important feature of the band’s music. Santos and Ferrara explained that, in the beginning, it was crucial to establish Sunshine as just the two of them. Without any permanent members other than themselves, the pair were free to collaborate with as many other musicians as possible.
This fluidity has led the band’s music to evolve into an eclectic blend of sounds and influences. The album they are currently working on, which will be their first, will surely showcase all of the diverse musical talent they have chosen to work with. The album will feature trumpets by the Rev. Crawford Forbes; drums by Montreal’s own Joe McLean, among others; conga and harmonica by Aaron Jaekel; organ and slide guitar by Mike Lambert; and more.
Jaekel, Lambert, and McLean recently joined Ferrara and Santos on stage when Sunshine brought their blues-influenced indie rock to Montreal audiences as part of this year’s Infringement Festival. They had everyone in a packed Barfly all riled up and rowdy. The band played their soulful, dance-able songs with contagious energy and exuberance.
Their repertoire consists of a mix of original material and classic songs, such as the one they finished off their Infringement set with to great effect: 60s smash hit These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.
Following their Infringement set, Sunshine headed back to New York to finish recording their album. They expect the album to be ready in the fall, at which point they will be back to play Montreal.
It was announced to me shortly before the Montreal Infringement Festival started that Anal Pudding were coming to stay at our apartment. Images of this large Buffalo band ripping the shit out of my place were haunting to say the least. Luckily when I eventually met this quirky feacaly themed group, they were ambassadorial in their attitude and friendly-ness. We all hung out and I got a chance to speak to lead singer Kurt who is the main dude when it comes to Buffalo Infringement. It was exciting to hear just how evolved a small idea like Infringement can become and even how organized and professional it appeared to be. But here, the Montreal festival rolled on.
We showed up to Barfly on the final Friday of the fest a little late, in keeping with the vibe that prevailed throughout the week. Anal Pudding mounted the stage and the surrounding floor space like a pack of confident madmen (and women). The packed Barfly bopped and jumped to songs with titles like “Your dog’s got crazy nipples” and “Turd Perv“. Surprising to me was that their blend of Zappa-esque “potty rock” was genuinely funny and intelligently composed. Towards the end of the set, rather suitingly, somebody broke out a large box of toilet paper and the ensuing streamer battle was intensely fought to the soundtrack of “Your Momma’s got a strap-on“.
I was excited to see the Smoke and Mirrors show which describes itself as “a critical analysis of the mainstream media and a platform for alternative perspectives on world events”. The evening, hosted and run by Jay Lemieux, begins upon reaching the door of the gallery. The lights are low and moody, smoke swirls in the light of a projector which displays trippy visuals on the wall. Dark figures sitting on the couches. The orange glow from their cigarettes briefly illuminating their faces. We were treated to interesting videos as the performers readied themselves.
Dancer Sadrine Charbonneau performed a beautiful burlesque number which saw a female soldier slowly cast off her authoritarian shackles. Clothes dropped. Flower petals showered. Everyone was impressed.
Next, two members of the group Talk/Sing skeleton played an intimate set which none the less had us all clapping and whooping with enjoyment. Tatiana Korelava demonstrated a corporate/corporeal focused piece of performance which subtly made us question the “dominating standards on an individual body” The show closed with a comedic lasso show by Ty Cardaci. His whip tricks combined with quick political humour was definitely an interested way for things to wrap up.
At last, the final day of Infringement arrived. It was to be a mellow end to a hectic 10 days. First up was a revisit to the dumpster dive art drive. (with a slight change of venue) We gathered a little weary and red-eyed and made our way to our studio. The art, I found, actually worked a little better this time around. Pieces came together quite nicely and the chalking gave the alley-way a lot of character. An interesting piece was Donovan Kings “I’d rather Infringe” which was an AA Fringe Pass tenderly torn in half stuck to a wall. Everyone drank our wine feeling quite proud. To finish things off as they started the party moved to Mont Royal where the official closing picnic was held.
The infringement festival was a blast. A lot of it went extremely well and even when it didn’t, it held a sort of train-crash hypnotism on me. It’s inspiring to see that all it takes is passion and dedication to be able to pull something like this off. I will definitely heading to Buffalo to continue Infringing.
Sometimes intentions get shot to shit. What was supposedly a bi-daily article on the Infringement Festival quickly became derailed as the momentum swept us all up and threw us down a flight of stairs. But alas, it was my fault. I seriously underestimated Infringement’s power to bend somebody’s life around it for the duration of 10 days. Ah yes, it has been an interesting and frequently hypnotizing event, and as it draws to a close this weekend, I’m left with a sore liver and a headful of craziness.
Opening weekend came to a dramatic and controversial boil as Infringement went mano-a-mano with the Fringe’s appropriation of Parc Des Amériques. It was a nasty scene with bad vibes abounding, and the inherent political undertones are edging me towards silence on the whole affair. Not because I dislike argument, but because I just don’t feel like stepping into that particular pile of shit right now. I’m fresh off the boat and wearing fresh shoes.
Right before the much talked about (talked is putting it nicely) shenanigans between the two festivals, I took a stroll down an alleyway. Not any alleyway, mind you; the Dumpster Dive Art Drive had moved in for the afternoon. The goal: converting a seemingly innocuous alleyway into a provocative art gallery.
Everyone was in great spirits. Wine flowed, and even the artistically inept among us found inspiration in the assorted melange of waste. It was fascinating as people on their leisurely Sunday meanderings unexpectedly and unwittingly found themselves in a surreal gallery. If you missed it and are intrigued, as you should be, a second Dumpster Dive Art Drive is taking place on the final day of Infringement, Sunday the 26th.
The 21st and 22nd saw me in a rather more serious mood as documentaries around the theme of cultural resistance were shown. First, I saw some shorts, including explanatory pieces on culture jamming and a heart-breaking 20 minute film, Remembering Bagua, which examined the violent conflict in Peru that took place in June 2009. For the most part, I was genuinely surprised to see this story unfold – a testament to the truth of it being a criminally under-reported event.
The following evening I went to a screening of Into the Fire, which looked at the G-20 riots in Toronto and the suspicious and despicable activities of authoritarian figures over those few days. It was a disturbing piece and portrayed the closest thing to a dystopian Orwellian police state that I have seen. It’s an important film and should be spread and shown to as many people as possible. There is tremendous power, after all, in directing the world’s line of sight.
Next up was a vernissage in the impressive Xpression gallery. Organized and executed by artist Christine Rigby, the event was extremely successful. Free booze (for a small donation of course) lubricated our artistic appreciation. The art itself was impressively eclectic and professional, and all agreed that it was a beautiful exhibition.
And so, having had a rather respectably cultured couple of days, I checked my schedule and saddled up for a debauched end-of-week music orgy. Interested?