Artist Spotlight: Kai Bryan


Kai Bryan aka \garbagefile is an award-winning visual artist, circus and drag performer based in St. John's, Ktaqmkuk. Their unique blend of aerial arts, gender bending, clown, and special effects have made them a celebrated staple of the local performing arts scene. They most recently performed with NDW during last year’s Festival of New Dance, both alongside Ralph Escamillan in FakeKnot’s HINKYPUNK and as part of our drag and burlesque show!


1. Is there a piece of art you are drawing from/inspired by?

I'm super inspired by Ess Hodlmoser's "Vacuum: Slow Circus" project. It's a slow contortion act that they perform inside a latex vacuum tower. I also look to science fiction films for inspiration all the time - especially icky sticky old school practical effects.


2. What have been your biggest challenges and inspirations creating during the past 2 years?

I get so much energy in performance from the audience, so the restrictions on live performance/audience interaction were certainly challenging. I am also intensely impacted by perfectionism. But during lockdown, it was impossible to achieve "perfection" (an imaginary concept from the jump) on any project. I couldn't assemble a creative team, acquire all the dream materials, etc. so I was able to settle into just doing my best in the situation. It challenged me to think creatively and I found ways to work with what I had available to me. The limitations imposed by lockdown freed me in a way, and I made a lot of art I am really proud of.


3. Has the experience from the past 2 years created new patterns in your life, new routines? If so, what are they?

Towards the beginning of the pandemic a lot of circus coaches began teaching online. I was able to connect with a new coach and reconnect with my old coach who moved away through Zoom classes and private Zoom training. This led to a new routine of almost daily training, and significant advancements in my skills in both handstands and backbending. Big shout out to Keely Whitelaw and Sara Miller for their guidance!


4. What are some comfort foods that have soothed your soul during the pandemic?

Anyone who knows me knows that cooking is far from my favourite activity, so I was thrilled to be able to order lots of delicious veggie meals from Ethiopian Cuisine Plus - my absolute fav!


5. What are you looking forward to? Dream projects, projects in the making, a good soup tonight, warmer weather?

I've got so many exciting projects coming up this year! I'm cooking up something special with my drag collective the Phlegm Fatales and I'm super excited to clown around at the 5th edition of St. John's International CircusFest. I'm also looking forward to as many pond swims as I possible this summer.


6. Any past work/work in progress you'd like us to share?

My father passed away recently, very suddenly. He has been a huge supporter of all my wacky antics since I was a kid and he was an especially big fan of this video interpretation of Amanda Palmer's "It Runs In The Family" that I produced during lockdown:


My aerial family got together to sort out an outdoor pandemic video shoot during the summer of 2020. I was so thrilled with the outcome, guided by my coach Keely Whitelaw and filmed by my friend Heather Rumancik:



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