Step into artist Amber Dawn Bellemare’s parlour… The Parlour Project: Spider, Fly, and Web is a provocative, vulnerable auto ethnography about the artist’s lived reality as a former sex worker, using the contributions from her patrons to fund her work as an emerging artist. An intimate embodiment of human connection and sexuality, The Parlour Project reflects Bellemare’s insights about womanhood and the commodification of the feminine divine. This immersive, raw and theatrical installation art event is an opportunity for audiences to participate in her story from their own place of imagination, morality, experience and courage. At the beautiful Wolf Lab studio at 4035 rue Saint-Ambroise from Sept. 19-28. Contains nudity—for ages 18+.
The Parlour Project is unprecedented; a unique contribution that allows a glimpse inside the oldest profession. Bellemare often thought of her former work as performance art; creating a sensual and delightful environment that provides a framework for experiences of rapport, eroticism and escape. “In that sense my work was art, although it was impermanent, transitory, not protected under the law, and publicly shamed,” she explained.
As a sex worker, selfies became the artist’s main vehicle for creative expression, communication with clients, and self- reflection. The bulk of Bellemare’s work documents each rendezvous with a selfie before and after (and sometimes during), so as to discern what was working, what wasn’t, and to honour herself in her most exposed state. By revealing only part of the story, she challenges viewers to fill in the blanks.
The project will ultimately consist of 3 parts: the multimedia/pop-up ceremony event, as well as an accompanying book and documentary about the total’s creation (to be filmed live throughout the weekend). The documentary will eventually weave the two narrative arcs of the story: before and after a session, including the moments Bellemare took the selfies; and the process of making the installation/event—what it takes to create something of this scope, theme and risk.
The piece is done within the container of ceremony to offer a sensual, nurturing intimacy. Today’s world generates a situation where dealing with external forces allows little time to reflect or to shape an identity from within. Indigenous wisdom has a lot of teachings around unifying spirit, the ancestors and the earth. Guiding the process is Anishinaabe artist, elder and mentor, Sharon Brass, supporting Bellemare’s vision to craft a safe space through ritual, specific for this event. “We believe that ceremony, dances and songs can help guide a creative process that can deepen one’s identity and connectedness to their authentic selves. Women who have never been valued for who they really are suffer from ‘spirit sickness’; a separation from one’s true self,” said Brass.
- Opening Night: Thursday, Sept. 19, at 8pm
- At 4035 rue Saint-Ambroise, Studio 206
- All Shows 18+
- Thursday, Sept. 19-Saturday, Sept. 28 at 8pm; Sunday Sept. 22, matinee performance only, at 3pm
- Tickets online: $20, $15 students/seniors/sex workers, $25 at the door
—The Parlour Project