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Performance

Misinformed Informants curated by Lisa Visser (2009)

Thursday / Dec 17 / 09
7:30 pm


XPACE Cultural Centre
58 Ossington Avenue
Toronto
Curators:
Lisa Visser

Performance Event: December 17 at 7:30PM ($5 / PWYC)
Exhibition: to December 19 (Gallery hours: 12-8pm Friday / 12-6pm Saturday)

ARTISTS
Guillaume Adjutor Provost
Corina Kennedy

Sophie Castonguay

Julia Mensink
Stacey Ho
Joshua Schwebel (cancelled)
Michelle Lacombe
Henry Adam Svec


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Misinformed Informants
Preface to the Performance

By Lisa Visser

Fragments, fleeting words, fights. You’re not listening to me

Misinformed Informants invites emerging artists to answer to the idea of miscommunication, misunderstanding, misplaced lines of agreement. Responses range from antiquated expressions of communication to suggestions, covert signals, mis-remembrance and the unapologetically false. Diverse interpretation converges into an overhead problem of mistrust. In trusting the informant (who may be misinformed) misinformation is communicated as true information. Truth and reality negate the very premise of this performance event. I begin to doubt the truth I communicated. And yet: I would never lie to you. But: this is about lies.

This curatorial premise acknowledges the complicated boundaries of curator-performer-audience relationships and pushes past them. These tensions are apparent in the work of Misinformed Informants, and can be as subtle as a gesture, as apparent as a role-reversal, or as confrontational as a slap in the face.    

Julia Mensink’s maybe it was nothing brings a tension to the audience/performer role by inviting her ex-boyfriend to be a participant. Both Julia and her ex tell a lecture-style story, based on their own experiences of the same event. Through the development of the story, what becomes clear is the absence of synchronicity in memories, the highlighting of the fuzzy parts and the uncomfortable inclusion of audience members into a breakup. The audience can choose between listening to Julia or her-ex’s side of the story: a literal choosing of sides. How terrible to be brought in to this. I would like us not to fight.

Joshua Schwebel’s piece deliberately misses the mark, or so it was meant to. Relying on the accuracy of Canada Post, Joshua mis-addressed his application to the call for submissions. However, a glitch delivered the package to the correct address in a sensible amount of time.  In following Joshua’s instructions, I rejected the dossier. Joshua’s cheeky approach to the premise has yet to play itself out, but his deliberate determination to accepting and then rejecting causes me to question my role as curator. What have I done in creating these intentionally missed formations of informants?

In a similar farce, Henry Adam Svec plays with the role of the lecturer and delivers a performance rooted in fiction. Stompin’ Tom Connors never wrote "The Lost Stompin' Tom Song". Did he? Henry engages the audience in an experiment that questions and abuses the influence of authority and the audiences’ desire to be patient, active and honest listeners.

Sophie Castonguay toes the line between performer and director, creating a confusion that arises from the conditioned reverence of the audience for the performer and the space of performance art. You took the words right out of my mouth puts audience members under the direction of the performer. The audience wants to know what is happening. The performer is in control. Is this the performance? Sophie withholds the one thing the audience wants: clear communication about what will happen next. Going beyond the unexpected is also the under-expected, the under-performed and the under-communicated. 

Stacey Ho invites additional participants in her GROOP MEDITEHSHUNS, a three-part piece that draws attention to breathing, blinks and beats. Each performance will have the participants respond to one another’s bodies with a gesture, a sound, or a slap in the face. By drawing attention to the subtleties of the bodies’ motions, Stacey is over-communicating in a way that is delicate and absurd, respectful and brutal.  

The obsessive nature of this over-observant performance is present in Corina Kennedy’s cheer sir or madam, a durational performance in which letters are typed out on a typewriter, only to be immediately rendered unreadable. Letters of love, protest, and rejection are destroyed upon their completion. What remains are mounds of lonely letters of the alphabet, without a structure or form. Both antiquated forms of communication and obsession elevates these letters until they are objectified and displayed, nearly fetishized.  

Guillaume Adjutor Provost’s fetishization comes into play in a different form, a covert and suggestive gestural work. Guillaume claims a subjective reinterpretation of historical moments, changing meanings and communicating a new history. SLOW READERS, argument no.1 is based on a song meant to inspire spirituality. Through the performance, the song and it’s intent is broken down in subtle movements, hidden meanings and secrets only the performer knows. The secret is there.  But we stopped understanding each other long before that. 

The performances in Misinformed Informants break down communication - reducing it to an elemental approach. What results is a step-by-step guide on how to mis-communicate and a deliberate delivery of misinformation. Each artist claims a unique response, playing with issues of trust, structure, defined roles, tensions and obsessions. These are common-place issues. Every moment we are faced with the authority of being an informant and of being the informed. Sweet lies for protection, small in nature, keep us from personal disaster. The authority of the speaker is consistently abused in a way that is difficult to place and even more difficult to accuse.

Your word against mine. But I know you’re lying. I would never lie to you.

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Special thanks to Clive Robertson for the hook-ups, Johanna Householder for the coffee and advice, and Shannon Cochrane for a being a model of enthusiasm, dedicated support, and superior decision-making skills, to which I aspire. Also thanks to Sarah E.K. Smith for listening to all my lies. Big thanks to Matthew Williamson and all the staff at XPACE for their help and support.

[ Emerging Artists ]

+ PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS: Misinformed Informants
+ IMAGE GALLERY: MIsinformed Informants
+ VIDEO GALLERY: Misinformed Informants