On July 21, FADO will present SHUT UP, a series of 10 outdoor performances dealing with the themes of incarceration and wrongful imprisonment -- literally, the state of being 'shut up'. This event is the second half of a performance art exchange between Chicago and Toronto that began in 1998. SHUT UP offers a unique opportunity for Toronto audiences to sample the styles and aesthetics operating in Chicago's performance art community in relation to performances by some of Toronto's hottest performance artists.
The evening will feature a range of styles, from tableaux to spoken word, from interactive, participatory works to spectacle and multimedia presentations. The theme of incarceration will be approached from a wide variety of perspectives, from the highly topical and political (e.g. the recent persecution of Falun Gong practitioners) to considerations of the philosophical, psychological and emotional aspects of incarceration.
Chicago artists: Marlon Billups and Shannon Harris, Jeff Callen, Julie Laffin and Andrew Cook, Louise McKissick, Andrea Polli and Chuck Varga.
Toronto artists: Shannon Cochrane, Paul Couillard, Ed Johnson, Will Kwan, Louise Liliefeldt
MARLON BILLUPS and SHANNON HARRIS - "THE GHETTO"
Spoken word rapped with music bringing images to consciousness. Chicago performance poet Marlon Billups won a spot on the Bellwood, IL 1998 National Poetry Slam team. He is the co-founder and host of Third Floor Poets and has been featured at the Chicago Cultural Center. Marlon's poetry has braced the audiences at the DuSable Museum, Chicago State University, Guild Complex, and Afrika West to name a few. His work has been published in the Eagle and Egg: A Literary Journal. Look for Marlon's poetry in his forthcoming collection: Breathing, in addition to the soon-to-be released Urbanicity Spoken Word CD. He is a member of Chicago Writers Collective: A Community of Writers and Seven Plumpp* Poets (*Blues poet Professor Sterling Plumpp)
Shannon Harris has been playing his music for the masses in North America traveling to urban areas like Detroit, Atlanta, New Jersey, Toronto and several cities nationwide. Releasing " Soul and Jazz " on the 1998 Winter Music Conference CD, Shannon is steadily producing material fusing multiple genres and cultural instrumentation. Shannon also plays afrikan percussion behind poets and vocalist at Afrika West located in Chicago. He also frequents the legendary "Bongo Beach" drummer circle on 63rd and Hayes in Chicago. He has hosted his own radio show for 4 years (WIUS 88.3 FM ) and has been featured in Thousand Words Magazine , the Western Courier, Chicago Tribune Metromix and Insite Magazine. You can find his in-famed mix compilations, "MZIMU", "Jazzical Moods", "Soul and Jazz" and others, posted on several websites from North America to Japan. Shannon founded Urbanicity to introduce to the world his multi-diverse talents through the arts, along with others, focusing on newly cultivated ancestral motivated ideas.
Founded in 1999, Urbanicity was formed to promote and instill ethnicity and self-awareness via the arts. The word Urbanicity is defined as "a derived variable that categorizes a respondent as urban or rural." The group consist of a kollektive of poets, musicians, graphic artist, writers, singers, producers, discjockey's, remixers and culture preservationist who reside in large urban areas. He has released his first E.P. on the label in June 2001, "Desperado/El Montuno" and "Black Asiatic Women". The two pieces represent an intellectual musical symphonic orchestration of stories in which Shannon wrote prior to their creation.
Jeff continues his work with storytelling using a series of intimately mechanized objects and a camera obscura, and will perform inside it.
A frame in a false wall shows what appears to be a photograph, but upon closer inspection it seems to be a film or video, as it is moving, yet it is very sharp, sharper than a film. A hand is seen pulling a scrolling roll of paper, upon which is written a narrative that is full of various events, their causes and effects, and the desperation that comes from being unable to connect cause and effect.
The image the audience sees is really from an old, large-format camera with a groundglass back which is behind the frame and it is pointed toward the performer who is moving a roll of paper that contains text from court transcripts of wrongly convicted people on death row. Small objects will be presented within the frame every few minutes. If an audience member walks behind the false wall, the performer takes a flash photograph of the audience member.
Jeff Callen is a Chicago artist who creates interactive installations which he performs inside, inviting the audience to examine perception and narrative events. He received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has exhibited in India, Lithuania, Finland and Chicago.
SHANNON COCHRANE - "ELEVEN CENT MAGIC"
With Jennifer Rashleigh. Thanks to Andrew Pommier. For Kenneth because he invented and constructed the first 'portable pitcher's mound' in 1952. Unfortunately, when it was filled with sand, it was too damn heavy to actually be transported anywhere. His father looked out the cottage window, laughed and went back to reading the paper. The research continues here. Eleven Cent Magic: An experiment to prove that time flies and birds really only float.
Shannon Cochrane is an interdisciplinary performance artist living and working in Toronto. An OCAD grad, Shannon has presented work in various Toronto venues (FADO, 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival, YYZ, Mercer Union, A Space, Power Plant, Money House, Archive, etc.), as well as the Forest City Gallery (London), the Cleveland International Performance Art Festival, and Artemisia Gallery (Chicago). In 1997-98 she created a series of performances with Keith Manship as part of the collaborative duo 'Me and Me'. Shannon is a founding curator of the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival.
PAUL COUILLARD - "BLACKSTRAP"
In this tableau work (using the fitness trail apparatus), Paul's body slowly shifts from light to dark.
Paul Couillard has been working as an artist and curator/producer since 1985. Focusing on performance art with forays into theatre, writing, holography, installation, film and video, his work has been presented around the world. His collaborative DUORAMA series with partner Ed Johnson has featured 18 site-specific performances in Toronto, Poland and Calgary, with upcoming exhibitions scheduled for Edmonton and Regina. Paul is also currently developing new solo works for Gallery 101 (Ottawa), the upcoming ReciproCity/ReciproCité exchange show (Montreal, Toronto) and the Contemporary Art Centre in Kyiv (Ukraine). Paul is the Performance Art Curator for FADO, a Toronto-based, artist-run centre for performance art, and he is a founding curator of the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival.
This solo tableau work (in the skating rink) considers the physical and psychological realm of confinement in all of its vastness and claustrophobia.
Edward Johnson is a Toronto-based artist whose past work includes writing, directing, clown and bouffon as well as performance art. His solo work has been presented at the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival, various FADO series, Artemisia Gallery in Chicago, as well as numerous artist-run centre events. His collaborative work with Paul Couillard has been presented in Toronto, Calgary and 6 cities in Poland. Ed is a FADO Board member.
This performance draws links between the 'silent' gestures of mime performance and 'silent' displays of state power as exhibited through a popular form of punishment known as community service, in this case, maintenance work. The performance addresses the issue of the function of the artist in society: as performer, worker, criminal and clown.
Will Kwan makes, writes and studies performance art at the University of Toronto. He is researching the relationships between performance art, the function of the artist and the social history of rebellion. His performance work has been presented at U of T and the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival, and his videos have been screened at Pleasure Dome, Images, Innis College and Concordia University.
JULIE LAFFIN and ANDREW COOK -- "255"
"255" is not a performance. It is an actual memorial to the practitioners of Falun Gong who have lost their lives since July of 1999 when Jiang Zemin branded Falun Gong an "evil cult" and launched his campaign to erase all the Falun Gong practitioners in China by any means necessary. Falun Gong is an ancient moving meditation (Qi Gong) that was once supported by the Chinese govt. for it's great abilities to improve health. It was banned partly because of the sheer numbers of practitioners, which before the crackdown began, far out-numbered communist party membership in the PRC.
The number 255 attempts to quantify the number of human lives that have been taken (that we know of) by means of unspeakable brutality by the Chinese authorities during the deadly campaign against Falun Gong. Practitioners who would not renounce their faith were and are at this moment being tortured to death. When we began this project in May of this year, only two months ago, the number of documented deaths was 196.
The number 255 does not begin to speak about the tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners now illegally detained in prisons, psychiatric facilities and labor camps. It does not speak of the rapes, torture, beatings, threats, intimidations, indignities, humiliations, unfair trials, force-feedings, forced druggings, "re-education" efforts, psychological abuses, and countless other inhumane acts against a group of people for simply asserting their right to their spiritual beliefs and peaceful practices. The number also can never represent the suffering of the families and loved ones of the practitioners that have been murdered or have had atrocities perpetrated upon them.
The dress you see documents with photos and written names those Falun Gong practitioners who have been killed in police custody since the merciless crackdown began in China exactly two years ago yesterday. It is a companion dress to one that is currently in Washington, D.C. at a rally held there to bring global attention to end the crackdown in China. As citizens of the free world, we urge you to refuse to tolerate the policies of the Chinese government against Falun Gong practitioners in whatever large or small ways you can.
Julie Laffin is a performance installation artist whose work centers around the theme of 'the dress', and notions of the perceived excesses of femininity. She often constructs and wears overly large gowns in public places, forcing the viewers to negotiate their relationship to her. A three-time award winner of the Illinois Arts Council grant, she has performed internationally. Her husband, Andrew Cook, is a teacher in the Falun Gong movement in Chicago.
LOUISE LILIEFELDT - "DEVI"
Devi, also known as the "Bandit Queen", was born into a poor lower-caste rural family in the northern Indian state of Bihar. She became the subject of great fame and notoriety throughout India as the leader of a violent gang of dacoits (bandits) who terrorized authority for years until their surrender in 1983. Phoolan Devi became a popular cult figure, a vigilante liberator and a symbol of empowerment for the lower-castes of Bihar. This work is a homage to her journey and the strength for which she stands. Thanks to Derek.
Louise Liliefeldt was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1968. A Toronto based performance artist, she has presented her work across Canada as well as in Chicago, Poland and Turkey. She is co-founder of 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival and has been co-organizing events in Toronto since 1992. Liliefeldt's work is predominately concerned with the politics of identity, especially as it intersects with issues of gender and race. Other concerns include the cultural conventions of spectatorship and the links between expanded emotional/physiological states and physical experience. These works include the use of metaphors and symbols where motionless or low- motion scenarios are created in site-specific locations.
LOUISE MCKISSICK - " I WILL CUT YOUR GRASS" (2001 Digital Video 1:26:13)
At one time, Dorothy Gaines 'loved the wrong man' and ended up in prison. She was put away by purely circumstantial evidence -- her ex-lover, a convicted crack dealer, accused her of dealing drugs in order to obtain a reduced sentence for himself. The prosecutors found no evidence of cocaine or any other illegal drugs in her home. She was given a 19-year sentence.
"I will cut your grass" is based on a letter written to the judge by Dorothy's son, Phillip Gaines, age 11, at the time of her sentencing. A fluidly moving camera tracks youthful exuberance at the Washington Park waterslide on a Sunday afternoon, providing a counterpoint to Phillip's words.
Louise McKissick is a Canadian performance installation artist currently living in Chicago. In 1997 she hid her erotic writings between the pages of books in the 16th century astronomical library at the University of Vilnius, Lithuania, carefully computing each location using a combination of numerology and Kepler's law. Her most recent project was 'iloveyou', a 15-second digital video featured in the Transmedia 2000 show in Toronto this past September, and which won first prize in the Aggressively Boring Video Festival in New York in December. Her new performance work METTACHINE will be featured in this fall's Tranz<-->Tech Festival.
ANDREA POLLI and CHUCK VARGA
Andrea and Chuck are interested in the use of sound in the establishment of power in government and the military. Their piece involves a 'Speaker's Corner'-style open mic, but those who try to use the forum will discover that the words broadcast are not those spoken in the microphone.
Andrea Polli is a digital media installation and performance artist. She received a Master of Fine Arts in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently a member of the faculty of Columbia College Chicago and an adjunct faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited and lectured internationally.
Chuck Varga is a founding member of GWAR, a fluid rock 'n' roll project that has been variously described as a 'musical prodigy' and a 'multimedia atrocity'. GWAR's musical legacy of 15 years spans five major album releases, two live videos, and two full-length feature films, including the Grammy-nominated Phallus in Wonderland. Varga is also a member of both the Slave Pit Inc. (visual designers of everything from sets and costumes to gore effects to comic books for GWAR) and Hyperreal Productions, a costume and set design company.