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Biography

Yvon Bonenfant likes voices that do what voices don't usually do. He likes unruly bodies. He makes artworks starting from these voices and bodies and from these, he articulates learning about aesthetics, audiences, and the politics of the voice: he is a practice-inclusive researcher. After a history of working in interdisciplinary devised performance and inter-arts contexts, mostly from a voice and body perspective, in 2011 he turned toward experimenting with how we bring audiences inside unusual voicing and make art with them. To do this, he collaborated with a wide variety of artists, scientists and educators, resulting in the major project Your Vivacious Voice for children aged 6-11. The longest running artwork from that project, The Voice Trunk, continues to reach hundreds of thousands of users at the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. This project was supported by a Wellcome Trust Large Arts Award, by Arts Council England, and by many others.

To build forward from this work and its discoveries around how we entice audiences to explore the unusual qualities of voicing in spaces that range from the intimate to the public, including for hard-to-reach audiences, he founded Tract and Touch in 2016. T+T has so far shown Curious Replicas at the City Gallery, Southampton and Chelsea Theatre, London; premiered the voice-responsive light-orb installation We Wink, We Wink, Our Voices Blink at Light Up Lancaster; and has launched the installation Resonant Tails for chilldren with profound and multiple learning disability.

Yvon has given more than fifty papers, symposia or conference-workshops in the last 13 years, has published widely including in Performance Research; Jounrnal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies; Choreographic Practices; ... and his artworks and collaborations have shown in 10 countries. He has also experimented with how we might imagine academic publishing about artistic practice through the Experiments and Intensities series and his artist book collaboration with Talmart Editeur (Paris), Soie soyeuse. His practice has been supported by institutions in the UK, Canada, France, Portugal, the US (notably at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre). He has guest taught at universities across the UK, in Ireland, in Finland, and in Hungary and delivered talks and workshops for industry bodies widely: most recently, a delegate talk for the Edinburgh Children's Festival delegates exploring the potential for queer voicing to transform the sonic aesthetics of performance for children. See below for a list of funders for his work.

Yvon's education, training and early career experience bridged experimentalist stage practices from across theatre, performance/live art, dance and, of course, music. His voice teachers have included Jean Westerman Gregg, Frank Baker and Margaret Pikes (ex-Roy Hart Theatre). He studied at institutions as contrasting as Bennington College, Athabasca University, Wesleyan University (in their renowned experimental music programme), the École Québécoise de Formation de Psychothérapeutes, and completed his PhD at Winchester, where he was examined by experts in theatre and performance studies, experiemntal music and dance/digital practices.  

He is the Convener of the Centre for Performance Practice and Research, a focus for researchers in the Department of Performing Arts with a range of research interests in the fields of theatre, dance and performance studies. He is also programme leader for the Doctor of Creative Arts (Performing Arts).

Areas of expertise

  • Artistic processes focusing on forms of innovation
  • Artistic approaches to research and practice-led/practice-as-research
  • Crossing discipinary boundaries both within and outside the arts
  • Voice and vocality, especially extended voice
  • Performance and activist intervention
  • Queerdom and voice

Yvon is increasingly interested in the relationship between audience-responsive art, public space and unusual voicing.

Publications

Books and sound recordings

  • Bonenfant, Y. (2009) [editor, artistic director, sound] Soie soyeuse (Silky Silk). Paris: Editions Talmart. With textile art contributions by Lorna Dallas-Conté, Caroline Mercier, Casey Wasniewski. and photography by Caroline Mercier ISBN 2-903911-91-1.

Guest edited volumes of peer reviewed journals

  • Bonenfant, Y. ed. (forthcoming September 2018): ‘Voice, Identity, Contact’. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY VOICE STUDIES 3:2.

Articles in journals

  • Bonenfant, Y. & Ring, C. (2016) Mazs. Leonardo Music Journal 35, online.
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2016) Uluzuzulalia and the Your Vivacious Voice project: a first report on collaborating with scientists to elicit children’s extra-normal voices. Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies 1:2, pp. 197-209.
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2013) Writing touch in textile: Talking touch in tactility. Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices 5:2, pp. 121-140.
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2012) Architecting sensation: voice, light and touch. Choreographic Practices 2:1, pp. 43-67.
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2010) Queer listening to queer vocal timbres. Performance Research 15:3, 2010, pp. 74-80
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2009) Enskinning between extended voice and movement: somatics, touch, contact and the camera. Journal of Dance and Somatic Practice, 1:1, pp. 67-87.
  • Allegue, L. & Bonenfant, Y (2009) Textures and translations: B(earth) in between extended voice and visual arts. Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance 2 (1), Intellect, pp. 239-256.
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2008) Meditations on the challenge of skin and bone: creating between extended voice and costume. EPARTS: Études et pratiques des arts, 1 :2, Presses de l’Université du Québec, pp. 63-89
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2008) Toward a politics of felt pulsation: de-disciplining voice and movement in the making of a musi-dance performance. Studies in Theatre and Performance, spring 2008, Intellect, pp. 39-58.
  • Bonenfant, Y.(2008) Sound, touch, the felt body and emotion: Toward a haptic art of voice. SCAN Journal, 5 (3)
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2006). The embodied politics of intention, therapeutic intervention and artistic practice. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 1. (2). 115-127.
  • Bonenfant, Y and Maclaurin, A. (2006). Acoustic/Electric : a reflective performance document of an experiment in co-creation. Body, Space, Technology, 6 (1).
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2004). She came and did it and went and I came and people are coming: Gertrude Stein wrote. Performance Research, 9. (1). 6-10.

Chapters/Annotations

  • Bonenfant, Y. (forthcoming, 2018). PAR Produces Plethora, Extended Voices are Plethoric, and Why Plethora Matters. In Arlander, A., Barton, B., Dreyer-Lude, M. and Spatz, B. (eds.) ‘Performance as Research: Knowledge, Methods, Impact’, New York: Routledge, pp. to be determined.
  • Macpherson, B., Bonenfant, Y. et al (2015). A Polyphonic Conclusion: What is Voice Studies? In Thomaidis, K. and Macpherson, B. (eds.) ‘Voice Studies: Critical Approaches to Process, Performance and Experience’, New York and London: Routledge, pp. 203-216.
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2013) An Architecture of Sensation: Explorations in Extended Voice, Flashing Light and Video Art in Schroeder, S. (ed.) ‘Bewegungen zwischen Hören und Sehan: Denkbewegungen über Bewegungskünste’, Wurzburg: Könighausen & Neumann, p. 579-590.
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2012) The Opposite of the Traumatic: The Skin Walks inBonenfant, Y. (2013) Arlander, A. & Bonenfant, Y. with Covey-Krell, M. (editor-curators) ‘Ex-trauma: The Opposite of the Traumatic’, Experiments and Intensities series 2, Winchester: Winchester University Press, http://www.experimentsandintensities.com/published/ vol-2/the-opposite-of-trauma-the-skin-walks/
  • Bonenfant, Y. & Maclaurin, A. (2009) Acoustic/Electric (excerpt/overview of piece) in Allegue, L., Jones, S. Kershaw, B., Piccini, A. (eds.) 2009 ‘Practice-as-Research in Performance and Screen’, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 195
  • Bonenfant, Y. (2004) The Visceral Voice. In Morgan, K. (ed.) Crossing  Over: Negotiating Interdisciplinary Culture. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Institute Press.

Edited/Curated collections

  • Arlander, A. & Bonenfant, Y. with Covey-Krell, M. (2012) (editor-curators) Ex-trauma: The Opposite of the Traumatic. Experiments and Intensities 2, Winchester: Winchester University Press.
  • Bonenfant, Y., Edmondes, W. and Silver, M. (2012) (editor-curators) Cries from the Guts. Experiments and Intensities 1, Winchester: Winchester University Press.

Report contributions

Conferences & presentations

Yvon has given more than 40 presentations, performance-lectures, or papers in the last 10+ years. His most recent (2017) include:

  • What Matters about the Audience’s (Actual, Physical) Voice(s)? Vocality, Artistic Process, Plethora, and Research. Invited research seminar, University of Exeter Drama Department, October
  • Unruly and vivacious: children as voice artists and the celebration of difference. Invited two-hour lecture for delegates to the Imaginate Children’s Theatre Festival and Showcase, Edinburgh, June
  • Queer vocal methodologies: celebrating the ‘othered’ voice in children’s performance. Lecture/workshop for PUSH Project’s Gendersaurus Rex initiative, Edinburgh, for European performance makers interested in queered art for children, February
  • Voice-styling, hair-styling, self-fashioning. Contribution to the symposium Voice and Identity: Touches, Textures, Timbres (also convened), in conjunction with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Voice Studies, an inter-university research initiative (Winchester, Exeter, and Portsmouth), January
  • *Why Touching the Extended Voice Matters Now. Invited research seminar and masterclass at the Ferenc Liszt Academy, Budapest, Hungary, January

Performances

Selected performances/installations/artworks

For media examples of performances and artworks, see www.yvonbonenfant.com and www.yourvivaciousvoice.com and www.tractandtouch.com.

  • Tract and Touch (launched 2016): artworks, environments, interventions and relationships that celebrate the unique qualities of each human voice and that explore the voice’s power to reach out and transform the world. Visit the site for more info.
  • Uluzuzulalia Tour (2014-15), an upgraded tour of Uluzuzulalia to UK venues including artsdepot, mac Birmingham, The Egg (Bath), Spitalfields Music Festival, Royal Northern College of Music. Visit the site for info
  • Voice Bubbles for iPad (2014), an interactive vocal play app for children and their adults. Visit the site for info
  • The Voice Trunk (2014), an interactive voice installation for children and their adults. Visit the site for info. 
  • R & D version of Uluzuzulalia (2012), an interactive intermedia voice playground for children aged 6 to 10, in R & D thanks to funding from the Wellcome Trust. 
  • Masz – extended voice/video – premiered Oct 2011 at MIX 2011 Queer Experimental Film Festival, New York City
  • Beacons – live show (toured UK autumn 2011, to venues including Arnolfini, Rich Mix, The Arches) (created 2009-10 in residence at EMPAC, Albany, NY; Webber-Douglas Theatre, Central School for Speech and Drama, London; ‘Song, stage and screen 9’ conference, University of Winchester ), ca. 60 min - (for multi-channel live and recorded extended voices, 3 projections of images) Composer, deviser, performer, artistic director. Reviewed METRO, Total Theatre
  • The End of Safari (2009-10), durational/cycling - Extended vocalist and textual contributor for Micah Silver’s installation at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. 
  • The Opposite of Trauma/Skin Walks (2008), durational, cycling; cycle lasts about 90 min. Composer, choreographic facilitator. Public/street work performed in Paris, Cardiff and London, including the Tate Modern in London; Centre Pompidou (Musée National d’Art Contemporain), Paris.
  • Intimacies (videodance version) (2008), ca. 25 min – Composer, vocal and physical performer, choreographic facilitator, artistic director, visual co-director – shown National Gallery of Nitra, Slovakia; Alsager Gallery, UK; 2e Mostra Internacional de Videodanza, Brazil; Theatre Academy of Finland, Helsinki; Beetroot Tree Gallery, UK, all 2008-9.
  • B(earth) painting, voice, video installation (2007-8), sound ca. 23 min – composer, extended vocalist. Shown at Galerie Talmart, Paris (2007) [with positive media preview]; ATRiUM, Cardiff (2008); Alsager Gallery (2009); Sala da Arte Rey Chico, Granada, Spain (2010).
  • Soie soyeuse (Silky Silk) (2007) performance, 20 min performances in day long repeated runs – for solo performer – composer, extended vocalist, physical performer, for maximum 5 audience at a time. Shown ran 3 days Prisons de Saint-Merry Gallery, produced by Éditions Loris Talmart, 2007 over 3 days. Special 3 day event at the MIX Queer Film and Audio Festival, New York City, 2007. Festival event at Giving Voice 10 Festival, Aberystwyth, 2008; 2nd run at Caves Talmart, Paris, May, 2008. Video of Soie Soyeuse premiered at INPORT Festival, Tallinn, Estonia 2007. Developed into book project. 

Residencies since 2004

  • 2012 Creation Space, The Point, Eastleigh to develop Uluzuzulalia performance.
  • 2009 Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre (EMPAC), RPI, USA 2009, 4 week funded research residency with video artist and engineer assistant to develop Beacons live show. Première; media attention.
  • 2009 Funded residency to develop elements of Beacons project with MAX/MSP programmer Kingsley Ash, Theatre Noise Project, Central School of Speech and Drama. Performed experiment.
  • 2007 Six week funded residency to develop B(earth) project with Ludivine Allegue, École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Limoges-Aubusson, France. With support in the studios of the IDEAT, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
  • 2006 Three week funded residency to finish developing and performing the Each Starry Night project with Mile Zero Dance, Edmonton, Canada. Premiere.
  • 2005-6 External artist-collaborator of the residency/research project ‘Articulating Practice’ with the Arts Council of England Choreographic Lab, University of Northampton. Performance.
  • 2005 Funded residency with CEPiA & University of Évora, Portugal, for July in Performance event.
  • 2004 Funded residency and workshop with CEPiA & University of Évora, Portugal, for July in Performance event.

From 2000-2002 Prof. Bonenfant produced a body of experimental music/performance art while at Wesleyan University’s experimental music MA programme. Prior to 2000 he was a regular collaborator with the Tunnel Works troupe, based in Montréal, Canada.

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