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Performance

HIGH TEA with Keith Cole and Jeanne Randolph

September 26, 2021


Windsor Arms, Toronto

 

On September 26, 2021, twenty-six Toronto artists (of a certain generation), on the invitation of Keith Cole, assembled at the Windsor Arms for a High Tea. The guest of honour? Dr. Jeanne Randolph. One of Canada's foremost cultural thinkers, Randolph is a mercurial character. She is a psyhoanalyst, curator, critic, writer, musician, and a performance artist. HIGH TEA with Keith Cole and Jeanne Randolph was, what some theorists or academics might call a work of "social engagement." For Cole, Randolph and the audience / participants assembled, the jury is out still on whether or not it was even a performance. Perhaps it would be more accurate to think of that afternoon as an event of community (rather than a 'community event'). The people gathered in the room formed a snapshot of the Toronto arts community from a particular moment, a bit out of focus and dispersed, but collectively felt. Being in the room meant acknowledging the performance of time, of memory and of community. Pinkies up!

 

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Notes On A High Tea
by Keith Cole

“I’m not sure where any of this is going but don’t throw any of it out.”
~Shannon Cochrane (heavily paraphrased)

Gallerist Paul Petro refers to my new association with Jeanne Randolph as a “forced mentorship.” He might be right. I’m not sure myself what this new relationship is. Given that Jeanne Randolph has been on my mind so much (I just mailed her a Christmas card) I started to think that I need to do a hard think and ask myself ‘what is it?’ Finally, a decent thought came into my head:

Performance as Lecture
Lecture as Performance

Not a new idea but I think my association to Jeanne / with Jeanne is a desire to move into 

Performance as Lecture
Lecture as Performance

I have tried. In 2015 The Belljar Café in Toronto gave me the opportunity to present a campy, one-off lecture / performance using the 1985 film “Desperately Seeking Susan” as a reference point. I decide to take it all very seriously. My Performance Lecture was entitled “States of Confusion, Amnesia and Loss of Control.” It went “okay”. Not great. Not bad. Certainly something worth re visiting one day. But I haven’t tried or been inspired to try another Performance Lecture

Lecture Performance since.

Moving into 2020 and 2021 I have been slightly re inspired to try my skills again—using Jeanne Randolph and her Performance Lecture style as a reference. In March 2021 I received a $4,000 grant from The Ontario Arts Council to reach out to Jeanne Randolph and use her as a catalyst for  my possible upcoming Performance work, ideas and inspiration. Ideas were tossed around with friends and the concept of a High Tea was decided upon.

On Sunday September 26th, 2021 from 11:30am–1:30pm at The Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, twenty-six artists gathered in The Purple Tea Room for a High Tea. Jeanne Randolph was the catalyst for this memorable event. For those who know me well—tea and sweets are not my thing. I probably had one or two sips of the stuff and foolishly ate too many sweets not fully remembering that I do not like cakes and things like that.

Looking back, was The High Tea a performance (maybe). Was I super pleased—yes. Would I organize another one? Probably not—one was enough. 

But rethinking The High Tea: was it a Performance? We as artists gathered not in a bar, not in a gallery, not in a performance space but we gathered in a formal room designated for and famous for a High Tea.

What have I been doing since The High Tea? 

Investigating psychoanalysis (and treading very lightly into the unknown). I find that once I sensitize myself to something (in this case psychoanalysis) it seems to be everywhere. People are talking about psychoanalysis, going back to school to become a psychoanalyst, seeing a psychoanalyst and on it goes….

The High Tea for me was thrilling. Thrilling? For me to be able to treat 26 people to something different, special and certainly not every day is thrilling.

Back to the Shannon Cochrane quote from above:

I haven’t thrown any of this experience out and it is very true that I have no idea where any of this investigation (High Tea, Jeanne Randolph, Psychoanalysis) will take me but hopefully I will move the idea of Performance as Lecture

Lecture as Performance

forward.

Again, not a new idea but an idea worth pursuing in my own way.

[December 5, 2021]

 

[ Performance Resolution(s) ]

+ PHOTO GALLERY: HIGH TEA (coming soon!)
+ VIDEO GALLERY: a conversation with Keith and Jeanne (coming soon!)