Get up-to-the-minute festival news, artist interviews, and behind-the-scenes gossip on Megan Morman’s blog at artgossip.ca. Wanna hear what happens outside/after/in the bushes behind the performance? Satirizing sensationalized tabloid journalism, celebrity culture, and public expectations of art, Morman’s online coverage grounds M:ST in an all-too-familiar popular context.

In 2003 artist Paul Couillard was commissioned to be Festival Animator for Latitude 53’s Visualeyez festival of performance art. While several friends decided to take a road trip, I remained in Saskatoon to prepare for the upcoming Pride Festival. Paul’s writing kept me gleefully in the loop; his regularly serialized posts had just enough juice to keep me salivating.

A few years ago I asked Festival Animator Shawna Dempsey about her coverage of Visualeyez 2008’s events. It was hard — but professionally necessary, she admitted — to put on a brave blogging face in the midst of the injuries, technical failures, and general pathos that had befallen the festival. Looking at the floor, I was slightly embarrassed by my enthusiasm for her stories of angst-induced group bonding; they were the best part, but hadn’t made the cut. What happened in the hotel room after the performance was finished? Who got a concussion? Who started to snicker*?

I want to explore the roles that storytelling and gossip play in building spaces for community. Using blogging and new online social media channels, I’ll develop a series of timely, potentially embellished stories from my experiences at your event. Like a cross between Artforum’s Scene & Herd and Perez Hilton, the project will differ from conventional event blogging or animation in that it will focus on the social and ‘behind-the-scenes’ action, rather than critical coverage or reviews of work.

I’ve been dealing with themes of gossip and community in my work since 2004, when I first developed the Canadian Art Gossip Generator. The generator is a client-side javascript gadget that strings names, activities, and snarky comments together into randomly-generated gossip. It’s kind of addictive, and has since gone through half a dozen versions. Portrait series Friends of Friends deals with storytelling as community-building. In Friends, I work with found photographs to needlepoint people I haven’t met, but know through the stories of art-world friends. Here, gossip is the literal thread that weaves our social networks together.

I want to note that it’s very important to me that my writing neither actually invade people’s privacy, nor spread serious rumours. It should be readily apparent that posts are “for entertainment purposes only”, and not intended to be an accurate account of happenings.

*It was me.

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