Waterline: A Dance with the Surface of Water

Projected onto a screen partially submerged in water, a looped video shows dancers interacting with the surface of the water.

The dance was conceived of by hannah_g and she invited local choreographer, Rachel Cooper, to choreograph the piece. The work was created with two local dancers, Vanessa Hrynchuk and Lia Loewen.

The idea came during hannah’s regular walks along the Assiniboine River where she sees birds and fish paddling, jumping, and swimming. hannah became fascinated by how the surface of the water creates a line between the above and below, the visible and invisible, and how the line moves with the ripples. One morning, an image of dancers interacting with this line appeared in her mind with great force and became the impetus for this project.

First screened at The Forks, Winnipeg as part of Nuit Blanche 2021.


hannah_g                             Director, Producer

Rachel Cooper                    Choreographer

Lia Loewen                                    Dancer

Vanessa Hrynchuk                        Dancer

JP Media/Jordon Popowich       Videographer

Aston Coles                                   Production Technician

Colby Richardson                         Projectionist


Situated at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers on Treaty 1 territory, The Forks has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years. Treaty 1 territory encompasses the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe, Ininew, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene Peoples and is the homeland of the Metis Nation. We are grateful and inspired to share work here.

The project was funded by the Manitoba Arts Council with support from Shelley Shearer School of Dance, Nick and Todd at the Gas Station Arts Centre, Artisan AV, The Forks. Special thanks to Rose Passante, Niigaan Sinclair.

Photo: a still from the video WATERLINE: A Dance With the Surface of Water; 2021.

The Louloudi Birds

A collaboration between hannah_g & Zoe Katsilerou.

Zoe Katsilerou (singer/composer) and hannah_g created a story and suite of songs about the mythical Louloudi birds. Beginning on the small Greek island that is home to the birds, the story takes you to a Cornish forest by the sea and the love and friendship of Bonjay and Nellie, and ends on the rooftops of Toronto for the most beautiful tennis game the world has seen.

Released August 2020.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Digital Originals grant program.

Davis Plett’s (not all men are men); a response

Published by Public Parking, Winnipeg. 28 March 2019.

Full Text below:

805-4821 (Not All Men Are Men)

805-4821 is a trans coming out story.
its also about the 80,000 words of facebook messages
my best friend and i wrote each other one fall.
its also about hamlet and trauma and having a feeling.
its also about my mom.
its mostly performed using an overhead projector
and its mostly performed in silence.
welcome to the movies.

Created and performed by Davis Plett. Edited by Gislina Patterson.

The performance took place in The Ugly, aceartinc., Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory.

15-18 November 2018.

A response by hannah_g

If I were a journalist, I might begin this piece so:

“Davis Plett (23) a petit blonde in pink two-piece with wide, gold, metal choker, black stilettos, and glasses, began their performance in the midst of a rapt audience. Seated in a large 1980’s office chair (emphasising their build), Plett operated an overhead projector/laptop hybrid in silence as acetate after acetate, and digital screen after screen of text and image rolled over the fabric of the old projection screen … ”

The visual description of the subject, once common in tabloids, directs the reader towards assumptions about intelligence, intention, personality, social standing, and availability. A female identified body in a public role was regarded as an available body. This still holds true. With simultaneously greater subtlety and absolute brazenness, female, and increasingly, male identified bodies, are still being overtly included in North American and European neo-liberal economies of sex, fantasy, commodity, personal branding, and power. Plett takes the brutish, vested language of the lowest-common-denominator-highest-yield-gaze and issues a layered and unflinching I would prefer not to. In a counter play to those directives issued by twenty-first century capitalism, Plett enacts increasingly productive complexity in a lexicon of courtesies and frankness that lays bare their rejection of manipulative classifications and decrees to consume and be consumable.

The details of Plett’s appearance and performance I listed are significant, but must go beyond a simple exercise. These details comprise meticulous elements of a meticulous work; meticulous in the way a person who has planned a murder is. In a sense, murder – an act of power and will to destroy another thing – and death are deeply present. Plett uses Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a force within the warrenous structure of their work, as well as a personal signifier. The play within a play strafes 805-4821 (not all men are men), but whereas this device was deployed by Hamlet to reveal his father’s murderer, Plett uses it to flush out that which seeks to murder their self with essentialist labels, expectations, abuse, or trauma.

Through confessional texts —  conversations, messages, self examination — Plett reveals and exposes their familial, romantic, platonic, and undefined relationships as a means of destroying, redeeming, and transcending. Tied in with sex, longing, and discovery, the texts are not all necessarily destructive. Listening to and reading them, it felt at times as if one were witnessing a staccatic series of petit morts, at others, the ecstasies of a mystic. Annihilating the self in order to experience divine revelations is a trope in spiritual journeys, after all. The mystic experiences a double release by disseminating revelations beyond the cloister, situating this as testimony.

On the tired, old, enormous projection screen we read line after line of text for 40 minutes. It is impossible to catch it all. The strange concoction of digital and analogue technology had a self-conscious nostalgia that was very contemporary, but not always legible. The overhead projector’s bulb was dim, Plett’s fingers, manipulating the acetate text, were fleet, making words, including final and first sentences, easily missable. The text — and therefore the act of reading it — was both dense and porous. Since one cannot be sure one has read the entire thing, the porousness and thus the absorbency of the text to hold perception, gap-filling, assumptions, and uncertainties is increased. We see the web but not all of its moorings. The sheer volume, the thickness of the experiences described, our experiences of them, intensified the density of an already dense piece of writing. A metaphor for the difficulty of comprehending another’s experience, perhaps. The lengths required to make that experience comprehensible. To make a person legible, regarded, understood, and not diminished by any of this. Instead becoming imprinted on every surface to counter violent hegemonies that kill.

Plett’s is a tangled revelation; they welcome the weeds and the roots and the intensity of being under the water of searching. Although they share all this with the audience and invite us in, the essential interiority of memory, emotion, relationships, and self-realisation remains intact, facilitated by the audience’s reading of Plett’s words pulled across the over head projector. The act of reading transfers the interiority to us, and we have both Plett’s and our own voice in our heads. It also positions Plett as a kind of handmaid. A secretarial handmaid.

Through careful use of clothing and props, Plett conjured a 1980s secretarial aesthetic: the Janine, the Tess McGill, the Nine-To-Fivers – women whose formidable attitudes are due to incredible latent powers expressed within and outside the office, amplified by flamboyant accessories, ozone destroying hair, and rapturous soundtracks.[1] However, these characters seek freedom and success within the savage capitalist structures that oppress them. Plett critically draws on this aesthetic, associated with mainstream ‘80s neoliberal storytelling, masterfully subverting it. Not least with the unexpected song they sing at the end of 805-4821 (not all men are men). Their vulnerable, unamplified, unaccompanied voice (which is somehow primed for the audience by their microwaving and eating of popcorn amongst us in a preceding scene) makes inescapable the body that is outside of, as well as inside of the texts. We are rapturously confronted with the realization that there is a body within those 80’s clothes, under that make up. That body is queerly present before us. That body can be invisible, disguised, revealed, heightened, subverted, inverted, converted, coveted according to their desires. We want to believe that.

I was working the double bill and was right at the back of The Ugly for both performances. I watched two audiences enter, mill, watch, mill again, and leave. People were quiet and, I think it fair to say, expectant. Of what? Of connection? Revelation? To receive a queer sacrament? Plett did speak in tongues, with tongue, a serpent’s seeking, and a human’s interior rearing. Transcending and immersing and rejecting the clinging, incendiary spectacle of a body that is silent and that speaks: a distinctly queer phenomenon. And yes, a sacred thing. The messy, uncomfortable kind.

[1] Janine was the secretary in the first Ghostbusters movie. Tess McGill was a secretary in the movie Working Girl, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlinson were secretaries in the movie 9 to 5.

Where and How: a composition for Kristin Nelson’s Sydney/Sidney

Kristin Nelson (Canada) commissioned me and other artists to create new work using the sounds of winches as recorded in the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House by Sound Designer Emma Duggan during a Canada Council for the Arts International Residency at Artspace in Sydney, Australia. More info at her website here.

The album is currently available for $40 USD and was produced in an edition of 100. Cost includes shipping within Canada and the US.

The project was made possible by The Winnipeg Arts Council.

Sounds of Curtains (now destroyed) Sydney Opera House, 2020; vinyl, screen print, risograph, duralar, offset printing, book binding; 12.25 x 12.875.

Available for purchase on this discogs page. You can also hear samples there.

Sounds of Curtains (now destroyed) Sydney Opera House vinyl* release date was March 6, 2020, at Garry Street Coffee in Winnipeg (CA) and contains works by crys cole (DE), Christine Fellows (CA), hannah_g (CA), Casey Mecija (CA), Gail Priest (AU), Judith Rice (CA), Kelly Ruth (CA), Andrea Roberts (CA), Süss (CA), and Roger White (CA). Includes a bonus written response in the form of a ficto-criticism by artist and cultural theorist Jeanne Randolph (CA), and a visual response to Jeanne Randolph’s text by artist Kelly Campbell (CA).

Below is the text explaining my composition.

Book design by Kristin Nelson.

Tyranny Songs

Tyranny Songs is a performance with soundscape and movement that explores the effects of overt and subtle tyrannies and their disguised deployments of power on individual voices and bodies.

Drawing on Hannah Arendt’s The Origins Of Totalitarianism, among other texts, I created a soundscape using bird calls and songs (to the untrained ear one cannot tell the difference- a metaphor for the current  proliferation of misinformation), quotes, and personal reflection. The actions that accompany it perform resistance, affect, and internalised conflict.

This project was developed during an artist residency at HUB14 in Toronto in April 2018. My attendance was made possible by the Winnipeg Arts Council and Manitoba Arts Council.

The work was first performed at Art Holm (curated by Hilary Crist & Alexandra Elliot) in Winnipeg from 11-13 May 2018.

Photo: Pablo Riquelme


Extract from the text in the soundscape:


There are certain phrases that repeat in my head. Warnings, one might call them. Like the chattering of sparrows, sometimes I notice them more than at other times. Sometimes they sound like warnings, sometimes like songs.


And although I try to live in a way that lessens the bombardment of messages from corporations that endlessly arc the air around me like arrows from thousands of medieval longbows.            And although I try to live in a way that allows me to be struck by the arrows from the defending longbows of resistance and criticality that are less but still many.                There is still the ‘although’.                                   There is still the although.


<<the difference between truth and falsehood may … become a mere matter of repetition>>


Critical Fictions

Thinking with the work of Derek Dunlop, Kristin Nelson, Hagere Selam shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot, AO Roberts, & Logan MacDonald.

Critical Fictions is a collection of encounters with works by five queer Canadian contemporary artists. The book contains essays, fiction, poetry and experimental text. It is also an investigation into how critical and creative responses to art impact one another, and how they function as ways of understanding, knowing, perceiving, and valuing.

In her bold departure from conventional art criticism, Hannah Godfrey looks to the work of five contemporary queer visual artists, with attention to, and affection for, the wit, subversion, and many complexities of each of their practices. Shifting through written forms as experiential coves, Critical Fictions is a collection of inventive responses that are delicately linked, and devoted to their subjects.

Alongside the five artists—Derek Dunlop, Kristin Nelson, Hagere Selam shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot, Andrea Oliver Roberts, and Logan MacDonald—Godfrey shares a keen interest in intricacies of queer power, the body, and abstraction. Her varied approach to criticism embraces stories, poetry, essays, and other textual formations as means of wayfaring through the work of art. In these pages the reader will find not only celebrations of the depth, beauty, and acuity of the artworks discussed, but explorations of the imaginative thoroughfares they open up.—Publisher’s note.

“It’s with a unique, caring voice that Godfrey speaks about, to, and with the artists in this collection. Even if the reader is familiar with an artist’s practice, the writing, in both its abstract and critical forms, offers the time and space so desperately needed to cover the complicated and intimate relationship of a critic engaging with artwork. Critical Fictions is a special, caring, and necessary book where art criticism is written, challenged, turned on its head and back again, interlacing the varying concepts of the featured artists’ practices like thread in a loom. Only when the reader reaches the end does it become apparent the threads have become a tapestry—a rare and beautiful process that will stay with you into the real world.” —Lauren Lavery, Editor of Peripheral Review.

The 2023 Canadian book tour included Esker Foundation, Calgary; Neutral Ground, Regina; Art Metropole, Toronto; Fonderie Darling, Montreal; SFU and OR Gallery, Vancouver; Blinkers/C’cap, Winnipeg; NSCAD, Halifax.
The writing received the generous support of The Canada Council For The Arts and the Manitoba Arts Council.

Extracts have been published by Blackflash and The Peripheral Review.

It has been reviewed

by Jaz Papadopolous in the Femme Art Review

by Mielen Remmert in Border Crossings

by Emily G. Doucet in The Brooklyn Rail.

The artists:

Derek Dunlop

Kristin Nelson

Andrea Oliver Roberts

Peripheral Review have published the essay about Derek Dunlop’s work in their Spring 2020 issue. Read it here.

Blackflash magazine have published the essay about Hagere Selam shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot in their spring 2020 issue. Read it here.

Peripheral Review will be publishing the essay and other texts related to  Derek Dunlop’s work in 2020.

I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Je reconnais avec reconnaissance le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

Critical Fictions was written with the generous support of the Manitoba Arts Council.

Thought Factory

Where do thoughts come from?

A collaboration with Leslie Supnet. Published by Intercopy.

Published by Canadian indie press Intercopy, Thought Factory combines the whimsical micro-narratives of artist hannah_g with delicate, heartbreaking drawings by Leslie Supnet. The result is a surrealist look at creativity, postindustrial art, and the ineffability of ideas. (from Drawn & Quarterly)