Plastic orchid factory –reimagining the artistic process

Plastic orchid factory is a place for artists to support each other and advocate for art works that are “pluralistic in practice and in form,” says dance artist James Gnam.

Gnam and dance artist Natalie LeFebvre Gnam, who have been collaborating since 2003, established plastic orchid factory (PoF) in 2008, as a non-profit society. The programming centres around inclusivity, which is very much needed in the art world.

“[PoF advocates for] the collaboration, exchange and the development of new frameworks for making and experiencing art and performance,” explains LeFebvre Gnam.

Looking back

body weight, they work to coOrange, a dance duet, is about the human body. | Photo by Reza Rezai

PoF is designed to respond to the evolving needs of the live arts community and break away from the “traditional modes of production and dissemination,” says LeFebvre Gnam. Since its inception, PoF has created and presented 20 works in galleries, theatres and various other hubs across Turtle Island.

In 2017, PoF expanded its impact by starting Left of Main, an artist run space, currently located in the former Park Lock Dim Sum Restaurant in Chinatown. PoF wants everyone to be able to have access to self-expression and do what they want to do without being handicapped by traditional forms. Left of Main is currently home to Action at a Distance, CADA/West, MascallDance, plastic orchid factory and Rachel Meyer.

“At our core, we are dance artists. We have been working with, and of the body, since a very young age, our whole lives really. The body is our first line of expression and site for research for making art and performance,” says LeFebvre Gnam.

PoF is described as an organism, which replaces the word “organization,” and LeFebvre Gnam believes “organism” – how dance and the body differ from corporate entities: “alive, responsive and adaptive” – better reflects PoF’s mission and values.

Success depends on what your personal definition of success is, says LeFebvre Gnam; and she also feels any of the failures PoF has gone through are actually their biggest successes. Through these experiences, there are a lot of growth and learning being done: “failed” risks taken only allow artists to grow and to become more confident, discovering new forms of art.

Orange at PoF

PoF’s upcoming show, Orange is about the human body, exemplifying PoF’s mission. It is a dance duet by Less San Miguel, a street dance artist from Winnipeg and Deanna Peters, a Vancouver-based experimental dance artist.

“[Using their experiences in different art forms], they are able to use various movement scores to explore proximity and what arises from an intimate state of seeing and being seen. With activities like sharing breath and body weight, they work to co-create and co-perform strategies for witnessing, anticipating and empathizing in real-time,” explains LeFebvre Gnam.

“We’re shedding the formalized tropes of the performer-audience relationship in favour of something more immediate, strange and open, reaching towards a non-codified intimacy, an emergent togetherness that is greater than the sum of our body parts” – excerpt from Orange.

Gnam and LeFebvre Gnam aim to create a space where artists can imagine and develop their own objectives away from traditional modes of production and diffusion.

Orange will take place in April on Zoom due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

For more information, please visit www.plasticorchidfactory.com

Leave a Reply