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Performance

Feats, might curated by Alissa Firth-Eagland

Wednesday / Mar 23 / 05
8:00 pm


The Great Hall Centre
1087 Queen Street West
Toronto

FADO's Emerging Artists series was initiated in 2002 by Tanya Mars, who recognized that the best way to encourage young artists was by offering them their first professional exhibition opportunity. Her vision was one of mentorship, targeting an interesting mix of new and emerging artists, many of them former students, whom she commissioned to develop new works responding to a thematic context. The initial evening of ambient, conceptual and cabaret-style performance art gestures curated by Mars led to a site-specific durational event featuring One Night Only, a Regina-based performance art collective.

As the series developed, it became clear that this was an opportunity to nurture not only emerging performance artists, but also emerging curators. This strategy allows Fado to encourage new curatorial voices in performance art -- an urgent need -- and introduces us to new communities of artists. In August 2004, Craig Leonard coordinated a one-day psychogeographic event of manoeuvres that disrupt conventions by disorienting visual, spatial and auditory perceptions. For Feats, Might, Alissa Firth-Eagland asks artists known primarily for their video works to "unplug" their performative ideas, stepping out from behind the camera and onto the live stage.

Performance art vs. video?

Perhaps more than any other genres, performance art and video have set the stage for visual art developments in the 21st century. Fuelled by -- and also fuelling -- the conceptual and technical breakthroughs of art activity over the past several decades, these two time-based practices are at the forefront of changing ideas about what art can and should be. They are also forms in which Canadian artists have consistently excelled. While the formal communicative strategies of these two media are, on the surface, almost oppositional -- the obsessive detail of the close-up vs. the immersive composition of bodies in a shared environment; the fragmentary distillation of editing vs. the immutable pace of real-time; the magical layering of audio and visual tracks vs. the immediacy of live presence -- both are instrumental in an evolving debate about our visions of ourselves and the universe in which we live. Both serve as reflective facets for exploring our everyday behaviour and for influencing social dynamics. Both offer compelling possibilities for expression.

Paul Couillard, Performance Art Curator

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Feats, might - Curatorial Statement

Daniel Cockburn's videos are cleverly self-referential without being didactic. They are deliberately sleek and crafted, even produced, but it is Cockburn's performances within these productions that intrigue me most; his personae are disconcerting in their honesty and familiarity. I find there are many blind spots for me in all his onscreen characterizations. A notable mutability of portrayer and portrayed is evident in particular in his work The Impostor (hello goodbye): there's a mysterious blurring of fact and fiction. I am always left wondering how much of his onscreen personalities are, in fact, him.

For his work We Are Made of Stars, Brian Joseph Davis interviewed people who believed they resemble celebrities. The work reveals complex character layers within each individual who applied. Some look nothing like their doppelgangers. Some brandish their celebrity look-alike's gestures and mannerisms. While Brian is not physically present in his work, his performance is evident in his orchestration of the interview scenario. His concept management is that of a devil's advocate - neither the interviewees nor the viewer are privy to all the details. And of course his editing is very personal - gently culling their tics, speech patterns, and their very human traits while also revealing their learned celebrity mannerisms.

Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay's work struck me a few years ago when I watched the two new titles he had created during a residency in Banff and after his first stay in Berlin. I was blown away by how much they both played off of, and expanded on, the previous title of his I had seen at New Toronto Works in 2002, Je Changerais D'Avis. Live to Tell felt newer than itself, slick and plastic, its aesthetic deliciously euro. But it also felt intensely sincere. It aroused questions for me about the possibility for artists to use references from popular culture without appropriating - forging something instead of just deconstructing. Nemerofsy Ramsay's work doesn't take from pop culture and mainstream media any more than it gives to them.

These three artists' work hinges on each of their own personal dwellings within the ephemeral medium of video, rendering it tangible through varied manifestations of presence and absence. Whether in their lack of physical appearance or their charismatic inhabitation, we witness their emotional restraints and emanations. We see poised spectres haunting the video signal and frame with impeccable timing. They've each inspired the question: "What kind of work would you make if you were to perform live?" These are their responses.

Alissa Firth-Eagland, Curator

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Co-presented by MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art). Thanks to Vtape and The Great Hall for their support.

Video screening at 8:30 PM

We Are Made of Stars, Brian Joseph Davis 2004, 11:00
The Imposter (hello, goodbye), Daniel Cockburn 2003, 8:48
Live to Tell, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay 2002, 6:00

Performances, 9 pm

Report on an Unidentified Art Event Audience by Brian Joseph Davis
Visible Vocals by Daniel Cockburn
Constellation by Nemirov and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay

 

[ Emerging Artists ]

+ PHOTO GALLERY: Feats, might