Misinformed Informants curated by Lisa Visser

Guillaume Adjutor Provost
Corina Kennedy
Sophie Castonguay
Julia Mensink
Stacey Ho
Joshua Schwebel (cancelled)
Michelle Lacombe
Henry Adam Svec

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.

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.

Exhibition: December 17–19 / 12:00pm–8:00pm Friday & 12:00pm–6:00pm Saturday

Escapist Action: Grey Cup Sunday

The final day of Escapist Action: Performance in Recession, curated by Don Simmons, ends with a party to celebrate all things … football? Join us for Grey Cup Party by David Francovich.

A team of dandies gather to honour Earl Grey’s Cup over a cup of Earl Grey. The sports bar and the Victorian tearoom collide. Dressed in thrift store finery, they engage in male bonding over tea and biscuits while watching the Grey Cup final. Masculinity is reconstructed through a recession-friendly social ritual.

Join us for a cuppa and the game!

Escapist Action: Red Flag Saturday

Tomas Jonsson

1:00pm–10:00pm @ 3072 Dundas Street West

Magpie builds on a person engagement with a variety store that has been a long time fixture in the Junction District of Toronto, which is increasingly precarious as a result of the rapidly altering the retail identity of the street. Creating a dynamic that resisted the usual flows of investment, speculation (eviction/gentrification) this performance installation piece is an ongoing adjunct redundant economy. By selecting, sorting and taking advice from the seller the collection of items will be built to there after offered them on the streets to the passers-by for exchange. In place of monetary gain, other forms of exchange are favoured. The objects will function more or less as token opportunities for discussion about the economic and material transformations in the neighbourhood / city, the role and ritual of corner store shopping, and the determination of value and exchange.

John G. Boehme


Calentura (first in the series) intends to investigate autobiographical escapist narratives of adolescent disenfranchisement projected through direct akshun.

Joanne Bristol
My Winnipeg Can Be Yours…


In this twenty-minute slide-lecture performance I will describe the advantages of living in Canada’s low-budget cultural capital. This performance is especially designed for Torontonians who might like to experience the joys of living an in what is arguably North America’s most affordable city… 

Escapist Action: Black Friday

Joanne Bristol
Association for Imaginary Architecture


This performance involves architectural design and touch. I am interested in investigating relationships between our physical experiences of the built world and how we imagine and internalize those spatial experiences. The performance involves a one-on-one exchange between the audience and myself: I will ask audience members to verbally describe an architectural space. It could be a space from memory, a dream, or any kind of space in the built world that is of significance to them. As the space is described, I will draw a ‘plan’ of it on the speaker’s clothed back with my hands. Sessions will last no longer than five minutes. 

Rodolphe-Yves Lapointe
Nut your way out!


The intensive use of the spoken word, nonverbal languages and the ingenuous manipulation of props is what typically characterises Lapointe’s Performance Art work (“textactions”, in his own words.) But, the thematic of ‘escapism’ induced a restrained use of expressive means and the Quebec-based artist radically reduces his display of objects to a plain hemp rope, and the flow of words to only two, “Pull it!” In Nut your way out!, as he leads the public through productive time-killer activities (knot-tying), social games (tug-of-war) and skills tests (rescue techniques) until he reaches the “highest stage” of escapism. The end of the performance virtually lies in the spectator’s hand.

claude wittmann
My First Witch Piece


Today, my first witch piece exists as an idea that has to do with my body and with escapist acts, which I see as impulses to avoid or to transform a certain system of beliefs. I am fascinated by myths about 15th century witches, and I allow myself to ossilate between believing and not believing that they had unusual abilities, such as “flying” or temporarily depriving men of their male organs. I wonder what kind of consciousness shift I would need in order to commit to their philosophical view of the world, and to see myself become one of them. What are my embodied psychological walls? Doubt? Fear? Judgment? My relationship with death? My goal with this work is to take my audience on a journey that makes visible our resistance to a shift of consciousness.

Escapist Action: Performance in Recession

Curatorial Statement by Don Simmons

Daily media reports bombard us with the reality of the current worldwide economic situation. We are in the midst of a recession. Businesses are failing and offering discount prices on everything in the store, the stock market is volatile, companies are looking for bailouts, and government agencies are giving away bloated stimulation packages.

Despite these tough economic times, some businesses are experiencing a boom. Alcohol sales are up; Hollywood movies are experiencing a surge in attendance and theatres are reporting a rise in audience numbers. People need to escape from their problems and forget about reality. During tough economic times, art relating to escapism prospers.

Escapism is an immersive art. It satisfies a desire for sensual pleasure. It envelops the viewer in a hermetic and narcissistic space where reality is suspended. Stimulated by an individual’s need for escape the realm of the imaginary is opened and new possibilities arise. Non-places that do not exist make themselves possible, submerging the individual and leaving them in a state of confusion. Spectators who participate or view an escapist action become disconnected from their everyday surroundings and transport themselves to a place of contemplation or simply blank out. 

Escapist Action: Performance in Recession begins with a weeklong series of performance events that investigate economics and presents the audiences with alternative methods of exchange. The series culminates in three evening programs of performance entitled Black Friday, Red Flag Saturday, and Grey Cup Sunday. These three evening investigate the mixed emotions evoked by the volatile economic market. The performances navigate the sensations of fear, despair, laughter, and hope. The audience is transported from the dark emotions of Black Friday through the humour of Red Flag Saturday arriving at the celebratory Grey Cup Sunday.

Julian Higuerey Núñez and Ignacio Pérez Pérez activate Escapist Action by creating an alternative barter system in which performances and time can be exchanged between the artists and audience. The exchange starts with an Open Barter Market on Monday, November 23, followed by a 72-hour performance (6 days / 12 hours each day). Tomas Jonsson’s work creates a redundant economy across the street from a storefront display he mimics. In the piece Magpie, Jonsson observes the shopkeepers display, purchases items from the shop, and then sets up shop across the street. Jonsson consciously contradicts traditional exchange structures by giving away items, available for purchase at the neighbouring store, to passersby who engage the artist in conversation. Joanne Bristol presents an intimate service based performance dealing with internalized space as a form of escapism in her performance entitled Association for Imaginary Architecture.

The first evening program takes place on Black Friday. Renowned as the biggest shopping day in the US, and an indicator for financial forecast for the upcoming holiday season, Black Friday also refers to the financial crisis of 1869. On Black Friday, Julian Higuerey Núñez and Ignacio Pérez Pérez start the evening with the last performance of their twelve-hour day. claude wittmann explores the fears we experience in times of economic uncertainty and the mob like tendency to blame it on the “other”. In this case Wittmann looks at the instances in history where woman have been labeled as witches and damned for financial hardship within communities. Rodolphe-Yves Lapointe addresses risk taking and responsibility in a final desperate act of escapism.

Black Friday is followed by Red Flag Saturday. The Red Flag signifies warning, defiance, left-wing politics and amazing sales at department stores. This evening’s tone is decidedly lighter than Black Friday, compelling the audience to escape from their recessionary blues and find some relief in humour. This evening begins, like Black Friday, with a portion of The Artist and the Beanstalk by Julian Higuerey Núñez and Ignacio Pérez Pérez. Then John G. Boehme explores adolescent escapism and Joanne Bristol encourages Torontonians to relocate to the “wallet friendly” city of Winnipeg. 

Escapist Action: Performance in Recession concludes with Grey Cup Sunday, and a performance party in celebration of escaping the daily grind with cheap televised entertainment and the excitement of an annual national sporting event. David Frankovich’s Grey Cup Party mixes high and low brow activities, morphing the football party with an Earl Grey tea party to reveal hidden sexual truths.

My First Witch Piece by claude wittmann
Nut your way out!
by Rodolphe-Yves Lapointe

Magpie by Tomas Jonsson
Association for Imaginary Architecture by Joanne Bristol
Calentura by John G. Boehme
My Winnipeg Can Be Yours… by Joanne Bristol

Grey Cup Party by David Frankovich

Open Barter Market & The Artist and the Beanstalk by Ignacio Pérez Pérez and Julian Higuerey Núñez

Presented in the context of Escapist Action: Performance in Recession

Barter is a relational practice, and is as old as the wheel. In a pairing of related performance works, Open Barter Market and The Artist and the Beanstalk, Núñez & Pérez create an alternative exchange and cultural economy, one based not on capitalist value, but on need value. Barter as an opportunity for performance. Performance as an opportunity for escape.

The artists arrived to Toronto carrying with them 72 objects from their home country. Objects ranging from the absurd to the personal, trinkets, objects with stories. On November 23, they opened the doors of the gallery with a performance called Open Barter Market. The public was invited to bring an object of their own to trade and barter for one of the objects the artists brought. Or instead of an object, you could trade an hour of your time in which the artists would do an action for you, within reason, at a location of your choosing. After a day of bartering and exchanging objects and stories about the objects, the artists had 72 new objects. Some absurd, some personal, trinkets, objects with stories.

The very next day the gallery transforms from a market place into a performance space. Using the newly exchanged items as materials in an ever-changing and exchanging series of one-hour performances, the artists begin the next phase of their project entitled, The Artist and the Beanstalk. For 6 days, 12 hours a day, Higuerey Núñez and Pérez Pérez take turns choosing one of their new 72 objects and create a live performance using that object. All of the objects stayed in the gallery space, and often (but not always) become a jumping off point or a part of the next performance. You are encouraged to trade an hour of your time during the 6-days of The Artist and the Beanstalk to come and witness the performance being made with your item.

Open Barter Market
November 23, 2009 @ 2:00pm–9:00pm

The Artist and the Beanstalk
November 24–29, 2009 @ 9:00am–9:00pm

Potential Fertility Rite by TallBlondLadies

FADO is pleased to present a new durational performance, Potential Fertility Rite, by TallBlondLadies. Established in 2003, TallBlondLadies is a collaborative performance project between Anna Berndtson (Sweden) and Irina Runge (Germany).

Two nearly identical tall blonde women, wearing white folklore blouses, grey leather short and white moon boots strapped into traditional wooden snowshoes manipulate large red exercise balls, enacting a traditional invocation rite by utilizing non-traditional gesture, action and costume. In this 5-hour performance movement, TallBlondLadies repeat a ritualized synchronized dance using modern day props, in time to the sound of snowshoes.

“TBL inverts female stereotypes through the composition of absurd and unexpected performative gestures, often incorporating a range of accoutrement from high-end fashion to sports gear. Their works present diametrically opposed concepts; beauty and grace are juxtaposed and diminished through brute action and athleticism, tacitly disrupting and challenging gender-based categorizations.” ~Artists Space, New York, 2007

TBL will also be performing at Hysteria Festival, an annual festival of women hosted by Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, on October 24, 2009.

Sandra Johnston’s Ephemeral Monuments

Upon entering the Toronto Free Gallery, a former a hardware store, I could almost still smell the lingering odours of paint and metal. I enter the performance space knowing that Sandra Johnston uses space as a character in, rather than a mere container of her work, and so I imagine how she will interpret this atmosphere; I envision various literal scenarios and toolbelt props, all the while knowing that this is certainly not how Johnston will portray the space. In fact, during her performance I don’t really see any relation to the history of the building at all. The performance space, at the back of the gallery, is a large darkly-painted black box, illuminated solely by two square holes and one tiny circular hole in the floor which let in the light from the basement below. Navigation through the room is tentative. At the far end of the room there is a raised platform with stairs connecting the two levels.  

The audience takes their place in this dim room, sitting and standing wherever they find a spot that pleases them. Johnston begins with slow repetitive hand and foot gestures. I can’t decipher if her eyes are closed or slightly open; regardless, she appears to be feeling her way through her movements rather than connecting directly with the spectator. It is as though she senses our presence, knowing us in a way that sight will not allow. Her movements are pedestrian in intention, but made unusual through their compulsive repetition. A rocking movement, originating as gesture, ripples through her body and into her feet and we watch as her toes cover and uncover a speck of bright light. Is it an ember? A laser? Johnston continues on drawing the audience through the space with her. Upon closer inspection, we see that the ember is actually a tiny hole in the floor. But Johnston has shuffled off with hunched posture toward another light, a larger square hole cut in the floor in the corner of the room. The light illuminates her face from below, giving her a ghoulish appearance. She stands in the hole and is suspended mid calf. It looks uncomfortable. I feel antsy and want her to step out. 

Throughout the performance Johnston hands are a central focus. She rubs tissues through her fingers, rubbing them until they disintegrate and their grainy texture is embodied through the movement of her entire body. Her downtrodden posture and tentative steps remind me of an elderly homeless person. As I watch I am curious to about how these movements relate to her perception of the space. 

The selection of the space is a choice that Johnston prefers to make herself. When this is not possible (as in this performance) and she has not even seen the space before arriving, the exploration begins from a truly blank place. For Johnston, the process of getting acquainted with a location never reaches a definite end and consequently, she doesn’t present what she considers a conclusive performance, but rather a finale of her process within the space, a technique which involves getting to know a space by working intimately within it. Certainly her work is informed from the site; however, this process of acquaintance involves a more reciprocal relationship; the environs react to her just as she is impacted by them. In this case, Johnston had access to the gallery for six days, with the final presentation occurring on the last day, September 25, 2009. Although many of the sites she has worked within are public, her process within the spaces is mainly a private one, only exposed to the public in its later, or even final stages. 

Johnston is primarily known for her previous work in the history of trauma and how site relates to  often disturbing memory. Previous locations for performances have included sites stigmatized by violence in Tel Aviv, Madrid and her native Northern Ireland. Fascinated by the role of place in the catharsis of the victim, she mentions to me that witnesses or victims are compelled to return to the site of the incident as a integral component of the healing process. The performances in these locations then act as an intervention in the history of the space, allowing new memories to be created and shared within a site previously associated with intense trauma. 

The role of location in trauma recovery is perhaps most evident in our desire to remember through the permanence of architecture. In his article, On Memory, Trauma, Public Space, Monuments, and Memorials, Julian Bonder discusses the commemorative role architectural monuments play in the collective psyche.

“As events and circumstances unveil in the present, a memorial’s destiny is to recall the past and provide conditions for new responses in the future. As our psycho-political and ethical companions, memorials should help us consider trauma and rethink and reactualize the past. They should encourage critical consciousness, committed memory-work, and the possibility of engaging with the world through transformative practices.” (62)

Johnston’s site-reactive work echoes this interventionist philosophy. She recognizes the physical catharsis of returning to the physical location of trauma, as if the body perceives the significance of its physical space in the process of recovery and grieving. In this way, her performances become like ephemeral monuments; the memory of the performance persists as both a way to recall the trauma and as a new conceptualization of the site, altering the individual and collective memory of it.

While Johnston’s origins lie in locational memory, in recent performances (including her Toronto performance) the site is more benign and she is left to interpret the site’s character and “essence” in the absence of any prior perception of it, interpreting the surrounding environs as she encounters them. In this case Johnston works to alter audience perception of the surroundings by highlighting the quotidian aspects of it. Her movements are based on both the space itself and her interactions in the surrounding neighbourhood.

Johnston’s current focus on everyday rituals and occurrences require an attention to habitual and unconscious neighbourhood activity that only an outsider could identify. However, I am struck by the similarities between her trauma work and her more “benign” performances which similarly rely on her attention to the body as a vessel of memory. Bonder suggests that memorials give us a way of representing memory in a cathartic and interpretive manner. It is in our return to the physical site of trauma that initiates a certain type of healing. In much the same way that the grave commemorates the dead and an epitaph creates a representation of the individual, a monument interprets an event for collective memorial. Theorist Paul Connerton insists that more ephemeral events, namely commemorative ceremonies fulfill much the same role and are unconsciously reified through bodily manifestations. “We can also preserve the past deliberatively without explicitly re-presenting it in words and images […] In habitual memory the past is, as it were, sedimented in the body” (72). Connerton is suggesting an embodied memory, one inaccessible to the intellect alone, one experienced through physicality. His interpretation of habitual memory seems on par with Johnston’s quotidian work in which she observes the everyday workings of neighbourhoods and the movement of their inhabitants. Although, Johnston does not seek only to commemorate through her practice; her goal is not to re-create the trauma in the event as a means of remembering it, rather her work is meant  as an intervention in the memory of the place.

In fact, the performance I witnessed was uncharacteristic of Johnston, who told me that this work took on a more personally motivated character than usual. My impressions of aged and homeless imagery were accurate; while familiarizing herself with the surrounding environs of the gallery, she became fascinated by the repetitive gestures of a homeless man, whom she followed and observed for an entire afternoon. Circumstances from her personal life also came to shape her interaction within the space. Johnston was coming to terms with the recent death of her grandmother, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s. In this performance the embodied memory of trauma, albeit of a personal nature, was her impulse for creation as she relived childhood memories that occurred in a secondary spacial character: her grandparents house.

When considering her process, one that she describes as including meditation, I am not surprised that personal experience would tint Johnston’s interaction within a space. While watching her perform I sensed that she views her body as a medium to channel the energy of a place and its atmosphere. It is not surprising that the body’s own recent trauma or sensations play a major role in this translation of environs. If one subscribes the idea that the body is inscribed with memory, then it can never be a tabula rasa. In reaction to a canon of performance art writing that proclaims the body to be an unmediated medium, performance theorist Amelia Jones reacts to the idea that body art provides a direct channel of communication between artist and audience. She challenges the assumed ontology of the performance “object,” (the body).

“The ‘unique’ body of the artist in the body artwork only has meaning by virtue of its contextualization within the codes of identity that accrue to the artist’s body and name. Thus, this body is not self-sufficient in its meaningfulness but relies not only on an authorial context of ‘signature’ but on a receptive context in which the interpreter or viewer may interact with this body. (Jones 14)”

According to Jones, there are two layers of mediation that prevent body movement from being a solely ontological communication medium: the way the artist chooses to represent themselves based on a complex conception of the self and the situation in which the performer presents themselves. Grief is a viscerally embodied experience and its resonances still reside in Johnston’s body. 

In the last minutes of Johnston’s performance she proceeds onto the raised stage, causing us viewers to shift and move around once again. Arching backwards over the largest illuminated chasm, she continues her tactile gestures. Her hands touch her face, exploring eyes and mouth with meticulous detail, as if they belong to a blind person. This is the only time in the work when her eyes are noticeably open; although they still do not see. They look at us, blinded by light. She is bent backwards over this crevice in a manner that looks uncomfortable. She seems to embody the discomfort and fragility of age. Her teeth appear to crumble like the tissues did previously, creating a collage of gestural movement. The light hits her skin, giving it a translucent quality. She exits through a door at he back of the stage and we are left in confusion. It is over or do we follow her? 

Her performance seems to be about openings, both of the room and in her own body. The holes in the floor are flaws of the room, just as her orifices are points of weakness and vulnerability in the body. Correspondingly, it seems fitting when one audience member opens the door, following her out into the cold. She concluded the performance in the outside space of the yard, entangling herself in the dense vines and wild plants. (Later, I learn that she intended the end to be inside, but continued after the audience followed her out.)

The impression of the light in her blind eyes is, to me, the most haunting image from this performance. I am left with the feeling that Johnston creates from a place outside the visual realm. She is primarily feeling the space, hearing the space and smelling the space, while vision is an afterthought, an accidental way of sensing. This blindness imagery was juxtaposed with Johnston’s use of light as an object, a sculptural entity within the space. Although she appeared to be feeling her way through the space she was also drawn towards the three light sources in the room, like a moth to a flame. 

Johnston’s concentration on alternative senses to vision is in keeping with her philosophy of creation. Her interest is in genuine movement and expression, instead of making arresting aesthetic moments which read like visual snapshots. This is in opposition to a visual art sensibility in which bodily performances such a ballet craft a series of static positions. Even within movement she places value on the tactility of the space. Sensorial awareness is privileged over aesthetics, experimentation over rehearsal.

After the interview I return to the concise but brief program notes and am struck by how accurately the last sentence describes my experience talking to Johnston. “[Her] work often retains the fragility of weighing out new thoughts, remaining unapologetically inclusive of all the doubts and disjunction which invade the human capacity to respond honestly to any given moment.” While chatting with her, post performance, I was struck by her simultaneous concern and interest over the perceptions of the audience and her seemingly contradictory acceptance of their confusion or silence. She is comfortable with various interpretations, which may be a reason for the rather general artist statement. Her untitled Toronto performance allows room for interpretation and suggests a comfortability with a lack of control of its purpose and meaning. Just as the spectators are left to negotiate themselves through the space (eventually determining a new ending to the work) we are also left to interpret its meaning as autonomous viewers. She is not afraid that people will be confused by it and seems to welcome my questions, clarifying and explaining as we progress in the conversation. She describes the immediate reception of the work as a “positive silence.” That perception is left unresolved is none of Johnston’s concern. I imagine that in another life she continues her process in the Free Gallery, evolving with the neighbourhood, breathing in its essence, gathering layers of its character through the human behaviour of its inhabitants. 

Worked Cited:

Bonder, Julian. (2009) “On Memory, Trauma, Public Space, Monuments, and Memorials” Places, 21(1). Retrieved from:

Connerton, Paul. (1989) How Societies Remember. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Jones, Amelia. (1997) “’Presence’ in Absentia: Experiencing Performance as Documentation” Art Journal, 56(4). 11-18.

Emma Doran is in the PhD program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University. Her previous work as Archival Associate for Dance Collection Danse has sparked her interest in constructions of radical bodies through language and is the impetus for her dissertation, entitled “The Avantgarde Body in Dance Performance Criticism: The Case of Maud Allan’s Salomé.” As a writer, Emma has contributed publications to The Dance Current and Dance Collection Danse Press/es.

International Visiting Artists: Sandra Johnston

N.Ireland’s Sandra Johnston’s practice is site-reactive, exploring ideas of active intervention in both the history of and the present physicality of a selected environment and the people who habitually use the space. Most of the working process occurs privately, concealed from public awareness, with only the latter stages of an action framed as performance. Improvising with whatever materials and architectural features are immediately available, in this way, Sandra Johnston’s work often retains the fragility of weighing out new thoughts, remaining unapologetically inclusive of all the doubts and disjunction which invade the human capacity to respond honestly to any given moment.

Using the backspace at Toronto Free Gallery, Sandra Johnston will be working in the locality of the gallery for 5 days, sourcing ideas through a number of walking actions and periods of sited stillness. From these observation activities a public performance will be presented in the gallery, a collage of fragments of received behaviour.

Between 2002–2005, Sandra Johnston was awarded an Arts Humanities and Research Council Research Fellowship. During this research the work she was creating were focused around core issues of trauma, in particular the concept of “Trauma of Place” – exploring how artists can make creative interventions within spaces associated in public memory with violent events. This research was instigated initially in response to the post Cease-Fire situation within Northern Ireland, and subsequently evolving outwards into many different international contexts to develop the core concept of investigating relationships between processes of art, and issues of territory, trauma and commemoration. Johnston also produces video/audio installations and durational drawing installations which are made directly onto architectural features. She has produced work at an international level since the early nineties and recently represented Northern Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 2005.

International Visiting Artists: Monika Günther & Ruedi Schill

Monika Günther and Ruedi Schill have been making performance work since the late 1970’s. Long before meeting and starting to collaborate in 1995, their work shared similar themes, concerns and materials. Their joint performances since exemplify the artists’ dialogue with each other and in their words, offers a commentary on the “intensive rise of the pressing concerns of our times.” The images the artists create strive to illustrate both feelings of being trapped and of experiencing vast spaciousness, collaged through absurd picture combinations reflecting powerlessness and vulnerability.

“Monika Günther and Ruedi Schill develop in their performances sparse pictures of suggestive force which are hard to describe in words. Deliberately slow and sedate gestures underline not only their physical presence but also create mysterious sensations of time, emphasized by repetition. The emerging archetypal picture – and sound – scenarios are, in their ambivalence, not only sublime and enigmatic but also depressing and spine-chilling.”
~Marie-Luise Lange, Kunst + Unterricht, 2003

Please join us to experience two works from Monika Günther and Ruedi Schill entitled Silence and Fait a la Main. This will be their first appearance in Toronto. While in Canada, the duo will also perform in Montréal and Chicoutimi, Québec.

September 19, 2009: FADO Performance Art Centre (Toronto, Canada)
September 24, 2009: VIVA! art action (Montréal, Canada)
October 2, 2009: Art Nomade Festival (Chicoutimi, Canada)
October 7, 2009: Art Nomade Festival (Chicoutimi, Canada)
October 8, 2009: Art Nomade Festival (Chicoutimi, Canada)

Nonsense Group Photo of 111 Toronto Citizens by Yoshinori Niwa

A one-day performance workshop + performance experience

Nonsense Group Photo of 111 Toronto Citizens is a playful project in which the artist will gather 111 Torontonians for the sole purpose of taking a group photograph with a large format camera at a selected Toronto landmark or tourist location. Reminiscent of summer travels with family, this project is both a guerrilla intervention challenging the norms of “acceptable” behaviour on a public street corner and a hilarious group performance, documented in real time, elaborated by size and scale.

We need exactly 111 participants for this unique performative social experience. Bring your friends and families, everyone is welcome. Meet in the lobby of the 401 Richmond Street West building where we will organize ourselves, hear instructions from the artist, and venture out as a group to our photo location.

This workshop is presented in conjunction with the The Arts of Togetherness exhibition (July 11–August 23, 2008) at the Gendai Gallery, located at the Japanese Cultural Centre. The exhibition is guest curated by Milena Placentile, and includes works by Sandee Moore and Yoshinori Niwa. Thanks to community and presentation partners including the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Manitoba Arts Council, Tani Miki and The Japan-Canada Fund.

Pleasure Addicts by Brenda Goldstein

Pleasure Addicts is a performance landscape, an all woman-carnival, a transmission from another media universe, where an evening of channel flipping is compressed into a single space. Pleasure Addicts explores the love-hate, inherently unstable push-pull nature of mass media conceptions of femininity drawn from celebrity culture, reality television, lifestyle programming, and run of the mill prime-time TV. 

Yvonne Bambrick
lo bil
Leila Gajusingh
Brenda Goldstein
Cathy Gordon
Jesika Joy
Heather Keung
Maria Legault
Victoria Moufawad
Jennifer Norton
Aubrey Reeves
claudie wittmann

The Pleasure Addicts performance was conceived by Brenda Goldstein after a year-long collaboration with Jesika Joy, Leila Gajusingh, Heather Keung, Jenn Norton, Aubrey Reeves, and claude wittmann. Watch for our upcoming video Piece of Me.

Set and props: David Frankovich, Stephanie Chris
Video: Cabot McNenly
Make-up: Shawna Renee
Photos: Henry Chan

Pleasure Addicts is indebted to the support and assistance of FADO, Heather Haynes and the Toronto Free Gallery, and the Ontario Arts Council.

Not Waterproof by Julie Andrée T.

In Not Waterproof, Julie Andrée T. plays with the codes of representation and refuses all semblance of character. She exchanges the dramatic text for writing based on action. Subjected to a series of ordeals, pulverized and dirtied, her body becomes a dreamscape. In exposing her vulnerability, she quietly conveys the impermanent and ephemeral nature of our lives. Like an effervescent fraternal twin.

When performance-installation encounters theatre in Julie Andrée T’s work, the blend is unsettling and fascinating. Julie’s iconoclastic work is a hybrid of these two approaches in which dialogue, a series of actions and live images are gradually distilled into poetry. Disconcerting, moving and unclassifiable, the piece deploys an astounding transformation of the body by means of a metamorphosis of the stage landscape.

Conceived and performed by Julie Andrée T.
Lighting Design by Jean Jauvin
Sound Design by Laurent Maslé

International Visiting Artists: Karin Mendelovici, Meir Tati & Yaron David

FADO Performance Art Centre is pleased to present new performance works from a trio of contemporary Israeli performance and visual artists, Yaron David, Karin Mendelovici and Meir Tati.

FADO invited Yaron David, curator and performance art event organizer, to perform a new work at FADO and to choose two other artists from Tel Aviv he was interested in bringing with him. The result was an intense 10-day working period in Toronto in which David, Medelovici and Tati worked together and collaborated on a new work. This performance, entitled BETI, is the culmination of a continuous and improvised performance and working process that began a month ago before leaving Tel Aviv. Combining video (documentation of the process, both indoor and out, starting in Tel Aviv and edited at the very last moment in Toronto) and live actions, the work of these three artists speaks to the loss of, search for, and the production of meaning in a fragile and chaotic reality, and the collaborative research of confusion. During their adventures they meet some people (one of them was a manicurist named Beti) and worked in a variety of sites and spaces.

International Visiting Artists: Dariusz Fodczuk & Arti Grabowski

FADO Performance Art Centre is pleased to present new solo live works from two of Poland’s most exciting, engaging and surprising performance artists. We give them the moniker of the Polish Power Players (PPP) as homage to the title of Dariusz Fodczuk’s on-going performance series entitled Tiny Therapeutic Theatre (TTT).

Polish Power Players and Tiny Therapeutic Theatre. Seems straightforward enough. As you read this you imagine yourself understanding what you might see at this event. Don’t be fooled. The titles are full of contradictions. TTT is not tiny or therapeutic in a traditional sense. And it’s not ‘theatre’ – at all. It’s large, loud, and attempts to, metaphorically, explode the theatre. Performance art as therapy… perhaps. Performance art as self-aware, embracing, and helpful… absolutely. The works presented by these two artists are gentle and abrasive, funny and disturbing, and combine rigorous action with engaged audience interaction. Come prepared for a whole new kind of theatre.

Mothering by Moynan King

Un party pyjama avec des jeux de société, du chocolat chaud et des contes au lit avant de faire dodo.

Part visual art installation and part interactive performance, Mothering is a 4-day pyjama party complete with board games, warm ovaltine, bed time stories and the familiar touch of mother’s warm hand on your cheek as you drift off to sleep. Audience members are greeted at the door of the gallery, offered a flannel nightshirt and are gently encouraged to become a part of the installation itself. Exploring and confounding the line between audience and performer, Mothering recognizes the audience as significant in the art-making process. Just like Mom would.

Performed by
Moynan King
Nathalie Claude
Dayna McLeod

“Thank you for helping me with the puzzle, thank you for not making me do my own dishes, and thank you for brushing my hair.”
Your daughter, Miriam

“Trop cool d’avoir trios maman.”
Your son, Jerome 

“Of course you can bring your friends and stay as long as you want.”
Love, Mom

E-Bulletin Green

This scent is an homage to the future; for things to come. Cut grass, string bean, coriander, and ivy diffuse a smell of ever-green, or the eternal return, however you decide.

Top Notes

cut grass, lovage, coriander

Middle Notes

string bean, fennel

Base Notes

ivy leaves, moss