Art Building Community

Experimental, passionate, and irreverent, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan are two of Canada’s best known performance artists. Collaborators since 1989, this Winnipeg-based duo were catapulted into the national spotlight in their 20s with the controversial, now world-renowned performance piece, We’re Talking Vulva. Since then, this acclaimed duo has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan, their film and video works being screened in venues as far-ranging as women's centres in Sri Lanka to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. They have also created installations (Archaeology and You for the Royal Ontario Museum), published books (Lesbian National Parks & Services Field Guide to North America, Pedlar Press), and curated exhibitions (recently as Adjunct Curators at The Winnipeg Art Gallery). They have been acclaimed as “one of the high-points of contemporary Canadian artistic production.” (Border Crossings)


Read a response to Millan and Dempsey's
Unruly by Bowen Smyth












What would a feminist superhero look like? Could she leap tall buildings in a single bound? Could she bend steel with her bare hands? What would her name be? And would anyone remember it? For a new performance, commissioned by MAWA's Art Building Community Symposium, performance artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan have created an aging superhero with unusual powers. Watch as she wrestles the notion of "super" to the ground! In light of reality TV and celebrity culture, where everyone who wants to be a superstar can be, does "super" still exist at all? The work features a spandex-clad hero, a multi-media history of masked avengers and caped crusaders and astonishing feats of bravery.

Artists' Statement
In the self-created world of the performance space, our characters have the freedom to make their own self-definitions. These personae gleefully disrupt the images and lessons contained in all the stories and codes that have shaped us. They subvert and pervert accepted meanings, and re-tell tall tales truly. By making people laugh, we open them up to thinking differently. By placing our physical bodies in the work, we perform our realities into existence.

Artist website



Lesbian National Parks and Services
Photo: Don Lee, The Banff Centre
Tableau Vivant: Eaton's Catalogue 1976
Photo: Paul Litherland
Arborite Housedress
Photo: Sheila Spence
Photo: Cindy Baker
Consideration Liberation Army
Photo: William Eakin
Target Marketing
Photo: William Eakin