Regina, Treaty 4: Johanna Bundon
(Photo by Eagleclaw Thom, Intro by Risa Payant)
One of the best parts about my former role as a Program Consultant at the Saskatchewan Arts Board was constructing juries. It gave me the opportunity to connect with the artsy folk I found exciting, inspirational, and all-round impressive. And, so, I met Joh when she served on a jury in 2012. In the past four years I’ve grown to know her as a co-conspirator, colleague, fellow board member, friend, and kindred arts-dreamer.
I have deep admiration for the way she approaches her role as artist. She is a prolific creator whose practice is both intentional and labour-intensive. I’m amazed by the sheer amount of projects she juggles from month to month. More impressive still is the rigorous curation of all that she does. Her approach is informed through a commitment to encourage dialogue. I remember the first time she sought me out to ask, quite earnestly, what I thought about a piece she’d presented. This eagerness to offer and receive critique is unique. Seeing her wrestle with this process has encouraged me to stretch the boundaries of my own ego and willingness to open dearly-held beliefs for a more nuanced and challenging exploration.
Joh is a true collaborator, committed to the betterment of our city through partnerships and advocacy within and outside of the arts. Earlier this month I saw her speak at the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance Arts Congress. She confessed that she felt “compelled to care for and nurture the scene that I want to be a part of.” It seems she is constantly negotiating the reciprocal relationship between herself and the community, creating new models for how we invest in the places we live, the people we encounter, and the ways this impacts our own evolution. It doesn’t get much better than that.
KC: What kinds of projects are you involved in right now?
Right now I’m teaching Movement at the Globe Theatre’s Actor Conservatory. I’m also in the studio (and around the kitchen table) developing a new piece, called “Live Duet" with my partner and love: Jayden Pfeifer. By the time this is published I’ll be on the other side of my last performance of Kathryn Ricketts’ work, “Anthropology of the Discard”. There’s more too… but I think that’s a good way of expressing how the creative impulse manifests itself in my life. Tending to the initiation, the development, and the death of many projects, all at once.
KC: What’s your day job? What do you like about it? What’s challenging?
My day job often involves teaching: Dance, Movement, Improvisation. Those are some of the steadier gigs in my world. I like being in learning environments. I like the way that teaching often feels like studentship. The challenging part is just trusting intuition, following my guts, that sort of thing. “Slow down”. “Go fast”. “Get real”. Learning when each is most appropriate for the given circumstances.
KC: What’s important to you?
Belief that I can change.
Trusting that other people are also changing.
Collaboration. Going deep, or going unexpected.
This city. My movement through it as an artist.
Doing messy stuff with a dose of grace.
Time flat on by back to breathe and make sounds, that’s also really important.
KC: What do you like most/least about Regina?
I see my friends and collaborators digging into their work in the arts with passion, rigour and with a very responsive quality. I love this. I like that there is space to make here. Space like the land. And space to fail…in relative privacy.
I think it’s challenging to be honest with one another in a small centre like ours; to fulfill the need to nurture the creation of new work, new ideas, new ways of working and being (cause that is so important here). But also, to develop a culture where we can critique; talk to each other about what we are making in a skillful way. Finding the appropriate window to do this is often made complicated by how busy we are, and how many different roles we all seem to play in the arts community.
KC: What is your impression of Saskatoon?
Long walks riverside.
Dynamic Activist Community, Next Up.
This great project Lee Henderson did at Paved Arts in 2007, with the fire and the candles. Remember that?
Mon oncle Gustave Dubois
That gluten free bread at Leyda’s.
KC: How do you survive the winters?
Dancing in my duffel coat. Giving hydrating movement to the body.
The sauna in the basement of the Hotel Sask. Bone broth soup.
A few winters ago I made this piece, with my collaborator Bee Pallomina, called “the understory”. The primary image was fire. An arsonist. It taught me a lot about working with the conditions of this place, all its obstacles to survival.
From the Proust Questionnaire: What is your current state of mind?
I’m feeling focused in a long-arc kind of way. And I’m trying this new thing to get me there: CLEAR ACTION WITHOUT FEAR OF JUDGEMENT. That’s the state of mind I’m trying to hang out in.