The Ephemeral Library Society

Ephemera are things that are virtually useless in research most times. However, they may be useful in some pinches. They mostly occur in special library collections such as those found in archives… You should not go into a research resource looking for ephemera, but they can give context for your understanding [my emphasis].

Reed, H. & Horalek, D. “Reference Librarianship,” February 14, 2023.

FADO invites you to The Ephemeral Library Society
DROP IN: From 5pm – 7pm
DATES: Wednesday January 10, 17, 24, 31, & February 7, 14
Series facilitated by Claudia Edwards

The Ephemeral Library Society is a weekly research social held in the Library & Research Centre at the Commons @ 401. Over six consecutive Wednesdays in mid-winter, you are invited to join FADO for performance-art themed group activities and solo study time in a community setting. All are welcome—from the newly performance-curious, to lifelong-devotees.

Each session may or may not include:

  • Opening group activity (creative exercise, performance game, screening, etc);
  • 30-40 minute quiet study period (solo research, browse the archive’s books and useless ephemera, or any work you choose to bring with you);
  • Closing group reflections and discussion.

Weekly activities will be iterative, taking shape based on the interests of participants. There is no need to prepare or attend every session: you may come and go, show up late, leave early, come for quiet time and skip games, whatever suits. There will be space for offerings and interventions from members, too.

Come with your burning questions and your soggy answers, leave with more questions than when you arrived, or join for the ride and tabula rasa that shit! This winter, FADO wants you to gather and dissolve with us each week at The Ephemeral Library Society.

Group Activities may include:

  • performance games, fluxus games, relational exercises (all activities adaptable);
  • creative prompts and written reflections;
  • facilitated group discussions;
  • screenings;
  • collage night???

Quiet Study Period (30-40 min)

  • with a group of focused peers, bring your solo research, or any work you’d like to get cracking on!
  • co-working / body doubling / parallel play at its finest.

Don’t sweat it if you’re unsure of what to work on, we’ll have activities on hand such as:

  • activate our Zoom livestream installation with creative interventions;
  • write letters for Gaza;
  • browse the archive’s books and useless ephemera;
  • Ask the Librarian: If you want to explore any topic or artist in particular, email us your research questions ahead of time and we’ll prep some materials for your visit!

Amenities / Accessibility

  • laptop-friendly space with outlets & wifi; AC/ventilation system; washrooms close by;
  • building with accessible entrance and elevators (Commons Library located on the 4th floor);
  • Reach out to if you have any other access needs, or let us know when you arrive and we’ll sort you out!

Helpful Links & Contact
401 Commons Library and Research Centre
Map: See last slide

Email us at to sign up for Society updates!

An Interview with Aleesa Cohene

Photo Alexander Coggin.

(Interview has been edited for clarity)

Jordan King: I was interested to find out that you’re from Vancouver originally. Do you consider Vancouver as having been a part of your formation as an artist?

Aleesa Cohene: I don’t think so. I mean, of course, I grew up there so for sure there are creative ties to my childhood and upbringing. I left when I was 18 and moved to Toronto. I did my undergraduate in philosophy and from there, went to film school and then trained in editorial. It was there that I started making more experimental work, still thinking that I would work for clients and in post-production houses, which I continue to do today, in different ways. When I was at school, I was doing assignments for school. When I first started making artwork, I worked with found footage exclusively, caring a lot about the history and politics of found footage practices, specifically in Canada. I was really interested in getting to know artists in the Toronto community, who were making this genre of work at the time. While in my last year of film school, my final project was collage based consisting of a collection of clips from media sources that contained gestures and body movements I saw connected to acts of activism. This was anything from a drama, where a main character is in a union, or a thriller with a demonstration scene. One clip I included was  from a science fiction film of two people falling from the Twin Towers. The film was made about a month  before 9/11, and the day my video first screened in the classroom was the day prior to  9/11. So as this image played, news was coming in about what was happening in New York city. No one had mobile phones at the time. People were coming back from lunch and had listened to the news in a car or restaurant. Following this experience I had really new questions about the work:  What is this image now and what was that image then? What did this image mean in its original context, and does it matter? The use and weight of the image had a resonance that allowed for a kind of deeper relationship to what I was making. 

Eventually I took the video to Vtape and it was programmed in many programs across the world, because of that one clip essentially. There was no real context for it yet, the context sort of became what people gave it over time. So I had this very quick and fortunate exposure  to film festivals and to conversations around filmmaking early on in my artistic practice, and am really grateful for that now. 

I made single channel work for about ten years, and then I moved to multi channel installation, which is how I work now. The methodology of editing is still at the core of my practice and from this I have moved to working with sculpture, scent and sometimes paintings and dance, all of which come from the narrative of the films that I’m building and making. Film is still very much at the core of the work. I think that tension around the responsibility of putting new images into the world, of working with images, and then putting them back into the world. Your question reminded me of that time. 

JK: Do you remember feeling creatively invigorated or inspired when you lived in Toronto?

AC: Sure, there were many moments. Especially around the depth of friendships that I have. I find I miss Toronto in many ways, I miss the communities.

JK: Being based in Toronto, I find folks imagine what else is going on elsewhere in the world, or people feel the need to get out or go to other places to make stuff happen.

AC: I also remember those conversations and wonder what about Toronto makes people both love it and hate it; never wanting to leave, always wanting to leave. That desire isn’t even part of so many people’s realities. I went to residencies in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands and lived in Berlin for several years, but I always loved and missed Toronto in different ways. 

JK: The artist residencies piece is something that’s really important, I appreciate hearing that as well. A very dear friend of mine in New York, who’s a choreographer and a company director, goes to as many residencies as he can. I’m trying to allow residencies to fuel me as best I can while I’m finishing my program at OCAD and to take those chances to go and be in other places and meet creative people [in] other places, and get inspired that way. 

AC: It’s a great way to get to know a city and really no two residencies are the same. With each residency you have to navigate a lot of different conditions. Whereas moving to a new city, or country is a different commitment. I’ve been in Los Angeles for  eight years, and I’m still navigating the reality of not being American. Moving is both a value based and cultural adjustment. It took me about five years to feel set up, between healthcare and immigration, neither of which happen quickly. And neither are permanent, when you do achieve something, it still feels like a constant revolving door. This might be specific to America though. 

JK: There are all those logistical things we could get into, between the American O1 (artist) visa, all those processes. I am specifically really curious to talk about the art and olfaction part of your work. I was introduced to that by Shannon [Cochrane, director of FADO] through the most recent FADO scented postcards which were mailed out, which I was so blown away by.


JK: Yeah. 

AC: Early on in my practice, I think beginning in 2006, I decided to start training myself in scent creation and fragrance composition. While making video work, it became really clear that there was a presence and immediacy that video couldn’t achieve; a felt experience of a narrative. I wanted to explode the senses and what we were experiencing in space, sensorially… The first work that included scent was Like, Like, which I made when I was in Cologne, during a fellowship. I emitted the scent from behind video monitors, so the heat of the monitor acted as a diffuser for the smell. I thought “Okay, this is very much like a body, or another presence.” With each exhibition, I’d make another batch. It was very homegrown. Every batch was a little bit different, which conceptually worked for the installation but the process started irritating me. I wasn’t enjoying remaking the scent each time, and I wanted to develop a formula that I could repeat. I also wanted to understand more about what was happening chemically. I took a few very introductory chemistry courses. When I moved to Los Angeles there were some nice opportunities to take courses at the Institute of Art and Olfaction. That was amazing. I slowly had more opportunities to show work that scent was a part of, so I got to experiment a lot in the studio. I set up a lab and continue to experiment. Recently I’ve had opportunities to create scent for events as well which has been great. Creating one-offs and working in spaces with lots of people in them has been super fun and interesting. I enjoy the challenges of the practice. I love the struggle with language around scent, which I find important and continually interesting. With scent you are in your own world, you have your own resonances, you have your own memories. I know what I want something to smell like but it might mean nothing to anyone else, or it will mean nothing familiar to someone else. To let go of that control has always been the exciting part. But the other piece of it is that there’s no control, so if I really needed to replicate something for a sculpture, because it’s been sold, and there is an expectation of the person who has purchased it, I need to be able to do that. Or if I wanted to sell a fragrance, which I’ve been interested in doing as a conceptual but still wearable fragrance, it needs to be replicable. Scent sort of took my practice outside of abstraction, working with formulas and source materials.  

About two years ago, I started a multidisciplinary creative studio. Most of our jobs are  identity branding for different kinds of organizations, and businesses. We do smaller projects for artists, architects or scholars, and then larger branding or rebranding projects for businesses, corporations, foundations, etc. We offer scent branding as well, mainly because it’s important to us to continue doing what we love doing, but also just because we don’t want to lop off important parts of our artistic and design practices when we work. This all really came together when Shannon Cochrane (FADO’s director), being the amazing brain that she is, said something funny. We were talking about costs for rebranding, and she said “Well, for that price this website had better smell.” (laughs) I thought, “Okay, then it will.” People typically have budgets for marketing, in business worlds. But for nonprofits and for artists organizations there’s a tension there, they might only have a certain amount earmarked for it. The next prompt that came from FADO was during our strategy phase, we asked: How does this website perform? We knew right away that one of the ways the site was going to perform was by smelling. That led to using smell as a guide for the navigational system, which was then paired with colour. Each colour then had a smell, and then each smell and colour was a section of the website. As you navigate through the site, each category of work has a smell with a corresponding color.  It’s technical and tactical, really, it’s both those things, but so experimental and fun. We are now composing the individual scents in the FADO collection.  PERFORMANCE YELLOW is the first scent that we formulated, and ENGAGEMENT PINK came next. I’m sure you’ve heard some of the future crazy ideas.

JK: I’m privy to some of them. There may be a way that I’ll help animate those in some capacity.

AC: Working with FADO has  been  a dream job. We’ve loved getting into Shannon’s brain and figuring out how to represent that organization in a way that also was strategic. The history of FADO was just so important, and the website is an archive site, essentially. The experience of liveness, of aliveness of performance all at once.

JK: Prior to starting my graduate program placement at FADO, I had been working on pitch for a performance piece. I kept trying to think about, I have so many friends in other parts of the world, and how I could potentially make the digital viewing experience be somewhat distinctive for them. I started trying to consider these ways of creating a scent component that they could receive in the mail that included a description of how to engage with that particular scent experience during their viewing of the performance online. I told somebody at one point when I went to buy a very specific kind of incense and they replied, “Oh, haha, like smell-o-vision back in the day!” I thought, “Oh, I shouldn’t have even tried to explain what I was going to do. Because it’s not that.” (laughs) When I then learned about FADO’s PERFORMANCE YELLOW  and ENGAGEMENT PINK scents, I thought “Wow, you’re both already so ahead of the curve and really have dove into it in such an incredible way and created something spectacular.”

AC: Many people in North America reference smell-o-vision and scholars reference it too when they talk about scent and affect. Culturally there are so many ways in which  different people, ourselves included, interact with smell in different capacities that we don’t actually acknowledge. It’s a very underrepresented misunderstood sense, for interesting reasons. That’s why I love the idea of it as navigation because imagine if you’re lost in a physical space, and the only way through is the smell. It’s incredibly interesting. You can’t rely on it. Even when you describe a smell, we often rely on how things look visually to describe it. 

JK: There’s a book that I’m rereading right now that came out in 2006. It’s about Marie Antoinette’s personal perfumer. It’s incredibly detailed. They really went deep into his archives and records which are still kept in Paris, he kept quite detailed records. The book itself is a bit gossipy almost, or sort of salacious, it’s not necessarily a complex read. There are really spectacular details about how he created his scents. Marie Antoinette is perhaps not the first, but is an accessible example of a cultural icon that people wanted to emulate, for which we have documentation. So because this perfumer that was working with her, which became known, people wanted to buy his fragrances because they wanted to smell like her. That period in France was when images were first able to be quickly reproduced in print, which influenced people wanting what they saw French royalty to have.  Anyway the descriptions of the scents and the processes that went into making them is fascinating, especially the actual composition of some of the fragrances and then how they were used.

AC: I’ve heard of it but I’ve not not read it. Anything that gets really descriptive of scent gets quite fascinating. It takes you down this narrative path, but one that’s not linear, you know?

JK: I would love to know about your creative practice in LA. What excites you in LA? What, what about living in LA is fulfilling creatively? 

AC: I spend a lot of time working with clients now, and with client projects, my research practice has elaborated and shifted. This shift has been a driving force of building up my business while  keeping a balance with studio time. What I love about being in LA is that I can be in my studio all the time. One door is open to the outside so I’m somewhat outside all the time. The flowers, the trees are just incredible all year round, and super fascinating. Asking, “What the fuck is that smell?” is constantly in my world. It had happened already before moving here, but I’m just a little bit less interested in being in a dark room editing. So when I do have to do that, I’m quite focused and concentrated on it and block off a three week edit and just go for it and actually work elsewhere, because otherwise I’m too distracted. You know, the cliché about the light in California is real. It’s a white light and it’s just so bright. Something I don’t like is that it can be hard to have that gloomy, pensive, introverted time.

JK: I’ve never heard that about LA before, but that’s so fascinating to think about, because you’re right, it would just be this constant sense of bright sunny weather. You just need to be out enjoying it or something, huh?

AC: Yeah. It’s so easy to go meet people for coffee or dinner, or just be outside or go to a park. There’s this feeling that I personally can never shake. I’ve been here almost eight years now. The feeling of summer, which is an amazing feeling. But without winter, it can be…I experience it as excess. It’s not in balance. I really have had to create these moments, artificial moments of darkness. To follow the tracks within myself and to be more internal. Over the past few years I was working on and off on this video piece called Kathy, which is the first piece I made following a single actor’s career. It’s all clips of Kathy Bates, all of her performances from the early ‘80s to 2020. That was a challenge. The secondary role that she’s constantly playing, even when she’s a main character, because she’s there to make us feel better about our lives, essentially. She rarely plays a “nice character.”With this kind of studio setup, I am so grateful for the ventilation and access to nature for scent work. But I need the opposite sometimes. I need to actually have all my senses shut down, except for my eyes, and my inner world for cutting and for watching film. 

JK: Do you still consider film an active part of your practice? 

AC: Film is definitely the core. It’s almost always my frame of reference. In terms of what I spend my time doing, I balance between reading and watching films. I’ll go see shows and I know film history much better than sculpture history, for example. Film is still what I care about most. I dip in and out of the parts of filmmaking that I care about, and for my own practice, I’m always down to see what’s happening for other people. I’m sort of in the center of it here in LA, a bit too much in the center of it sometimes. It’s such an industry focused city. There’s not necessarily a lot of criticality around that. 

An Interview with Margaret Dragu

Jordan King · Margaret Dragu Interview

This interview transcript has been edited for clarity.

Jordan King: Margaret Dragu, icon of performance art, Canadian icon, Canadian legend, I’ll try not to be overly or embarrassingly effusive. But I am so excited to be speaking with you about your work, your involvement with FADO Performance Art Centre here in Toronto, your career, some of your archival material that now lives at FADO. Can we start at the beginning? Can you talk a bit about how you emerged into the world of performance art in Toronto?

Margaret Dragu: Wow, well, geez, don’t forget, when I first started making performance art, it wasn’t called that, we didn’t have that name. That came later. I don’t know quite when we all started doing that, sometime in the ’80s I suppose. But it was called… we had stabs at calling it different things. But most of all, we didn’t call it anything. I mean, there was a lot of mushy boundaries of whatever it was we were doing. And we would often just call things… the work or the piece, “I’m working on a new piece.” Sounds like we were plumbers. And for a while that satisfied. There wasn’t any particular interest or demand to have any classification or nomenclature over it. But performance art eventually arose from there. Action, “hauntlung,” all these all these other words, were all possible too. I came to Toronto from Montréal. And I went to Montréal from New York. I went to New York from Calgary and I went to Calgary from Regina. So if you think of that as a bunch of little Russian dolls, that’s already so much action. Anyways, I did get to Toronto, which was ’73 or ’74. Somewhere in there, I can’t really remember. I came calling myself various things. Tom Dean used to call me an ‘art dancer’ in Montréal. Because I was a dancer, I called myself a dancer. And I did dance/think sort of things, although I did installation and a bunch of other things and video and film, and other things. I was working with artists. But my first discipline was dance and choreography. And so he called me an art dancer, which was kind of a good term. I left Montréal after also establishing myself as a burlesque artist as well as a dancer and choreographer in contemporary dance, as also a dancer working in an art gallery, which there was a lot of that happening in New York when I was there before I came to Montréal. So I arrived to Toronto, with a sort of, maybe a bit of a social entree to General Idea because of Tom Dean, and this Montréal, and a few of those connections from Vancouver, the early days of all of the Western Front people, plus all the people who went down into the United States into California. There was that crossover [from] File Magazine, they were all [into] you know, mail art, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. The scene was smaller. You know, it was a different time. Now nobody even phones me out of the blue, people make an appointment [for] a phone call.

JK: Do you remember when people used to just pop over to your friends [place]? I don’t think of myself as that old but when I tell people things like this… they seem horrified that you would just show up on someone’s doorstep.

MD: Yeah, I mean, I had so few social boundaries, I had to learn all of those. I was an only child. I didn’t know anything. But I was learning them in an era where it was very loose, it was much easier. There was so much collective community, people were living in houses with six or eight people. There were people coming and going all the time. It was just such a different time. You could make a soy bean casserole and just roll into someone’s collective commune. It was seven o’clock at night, [you could] crack open a bottle of wine and party.

JK: I’m curious about Toronto at that time, and [w]hat your experience was.

MD: It seemed really uptight to me. I mean, they had already gotten more modern, I suppose. But it was Toronto the good, it was Hogtown, it was really WASP. It was so different than Montreal and New York. I mean, all of them were different from each other. But at that time, it was really different. Toronto is much more interesting now. You really want to be alive now more[so] than back then. [It’s] good. [Back then] was so stuffy and full of itself, like, you know, it really thought banking and the media and politics and everything. For English speaking Canada, it shone light out of its asshole. In Toronto, it was just so colloquial or parochial. All the “-ials,” it over time got much better with more immigrants and refugees [and] way more diversity. The world was also changing, but that real clamp of WASP power just had to ease a bit. I mean, I still feel it when I’m there.

JK: I think it still exist to a certain extent. And having lived in New York and having had a stint here [in Toronto previously]. And then having worked [remotely for a gallery] in Montréal… it’s fascinating to hear you say some of these things, some of which are still true today. Those mentalities that [continue to] exist in each of those places.

MD: [T]he province of Québec is famous for its challenges with diversity and cultures, particularly around women’s issues, the head dress, etc. All these things are all a legacy from what French law was, that they are still interpreting and percolating through. It doesn’t come from nowhere. These tendencies or problems, [are so hard to get rid of. [A]nyways, I arrived [in Toronto]. It was the very beginning of the artist-run centre movement. So there was Niagara Artists Collective in St. Catherines going [on at] the same time as the Western Front in Vancouver, in the same time as A Space in Toronto. [B]ack then it was just those three. Quite quickly it grew after that, but that was what was there. I just immediately went to see General Idea, and hung out a bit and went to A Space and hung out a bit and just started making things again. There wasn’t really much of a public at that point, although I was very fascinated by publicity, etc. And delved into that, onto what all the terrors of that can mean. Nobody had anything to lose. I mean, the budgets were, you know, peanuts. And they were, again, just these very loose collectives. So you could wander in and say, “Hi, I’m here, I want to teach dance classes for artists to everybody every morning at A Space” and somebody in the office would say, “Gee, that’s a good idea.” You just start to say, “Oh, should we let people know?” there was no email or anything back then. They [would say], “Well, [s]hould [we make a] little poster? You know what, there’s a [printing] press downstairs, they just moved [in, called] Coach House, into the basement of A Space. Maybe there’s somebody down there who could do something.” It was all so primitive in a kind of way. New York was not much different from that either at that point. St. Mark’s Place was tiny.

JK: What would you say you were carrying with you in terms of your approach to performance at that point in time? Was there something you think you were setting out to do? [Or] that you remember feeling compelled to do that [you felt] was missing?

MD: I think I felt more alone as a choreographer in Montréal. And also, although I had some acceptance as being a choreographer, making visual art and also stripping. That whole thing had to be kind of reconstructed in Toronto. But what was interesting in Toronto was there was a whole community of people who were independent choreographers [who were] working on things. I had a built in community to fall into; 15 Dance Lab, Miriam and Lawrence Adams, Elizabeth Chitty, Johanna Householder, Louise Garfield, Lily Eng, Peter Dudar [there were] so many people who were working differently than me, but we were vaguely alike. We weren’t fitting in to dance. We hadn’t really started calling it performance art quite yet. But we were interested in video, art and installation, things were more visually based and we had a lot in common. The video truck which Miriam and Lawrence Adams took over at A Space for a while, the Hummer sisters all these things were all happening all at the same time, we were impacting each other.  So it was a very rich… In retrospect, I could see that it was a really rich time [and] it was a good thing to go to Toronto and find so many collaborators and people who were thinking around the same things as I was. Much harder was being a burlesque entertainer in such an uptight WASP community. This was a real hard sell within the artists community, [which] was still very WASPy. I felt other in so many ways. But that also changed. I mean, all these things changed. It’s just so… To harp on it isn’t fair, because it evolved.

JK: That’s how, I think, I first learned about your work was doing research on venues in Toronto. I read about a place called the Warwick Hotel.

MD: I don’t think I ever actually danced in the Warwick, although The Silver Dollar was part of the Warwick Hotel, [and I] had lots of friends there. I dropped in and out, it’s not like it was off my radar. But that wasn’t one of my clubs. I liked it [though]. There was a big benefit there [which] I organized for the Canadian Association for Burlesque Entertainers [but] I didn’t perform in that. [I]t was it’s not like I wasn’t there [it] just wasn’t one of my places.

JK: That could possibly be a Wikipedia error that I believed, and I know better than to believe what I see on Wikipedia. [E]ither way, I think that I [saw] that somewhere [and] I was really fascinated to read about performance artists [active] in sort of strip clubs, [in] burlesque spaces, this kind of thing. [T]hose [were] worlds that I’d come up in, in Vancouver in the 2000s, and know[ing] what a fascinating confluence [they could be]. Just today, I [had] some Hi-8 tapes digitized at V-Tape. I didn’t even realize we had documentation of a cabaret show that [some friends and I self-produced] in Vancouver in 2001. [It was] cabaret/performance art/[strip], all these things [blurred]. So to learn about this happening in Toronto in the 1970s, and then to learn about your work… I was really blown away.

MD: [That’s] I guess another example of that Zeitgeist magic, right? Nobody invents any of these things, right? I mean, we’re just responding to the times. [I]t’s all happening quite simultaneously. I was very much in a publicity spotlight, I put myself in that publicity spotlight without knowing anything, really what press can mean, at that point in time. People think I was maybe the only one, I was not the only one who was doing performance art and burlesque work at the same time and kind of wobbling between the two. But as I started to work, I got more interested in that and bringing what I used to say “I want to bring Yonge street into the gallery, I want to bring the gallery into Yonge Street.” [I]n fact, they were sometimes complete disastrous collisions, sometimes very uncomfortable collisions. Sometimes they were fabulous collisions and morphings. I liked getting to one point where there was not so much difference at some point in between what I was doing in both of those places, and within certain restrictions. [T]hat interested me. [T]here are times when I wanted everything to be completely compartmentalized. There were times when I liked everything to be morphing, then there were times when I thought I knew what I was doing. And now I absolutely know that I do not. I mean, at the moment, things are so liminal and morphing, and uncomfortable and confusing, and it’s great, actually! I used to really think I knew what performance art was for me, and that I really hated theatre and I really hated dance. I knew where I stood. Aesthetically I felt I knew what drove those disciplines in different ways. I could really feel it, sense it, and articulate it. And now I don’t and it’s great. It’s great. I got off balance [when I met] Justine Chambers who’s a choreographer [and] a multidisciplinary artist, known for being a choreographer and a dancer, but she does many other things, she operates out of here [Vancouver]. She’s what I call a talking/thinking/dancer. But a conceptual, modern dancer, more like performance art. [She] really knows critical theory and other very smart things, and has worked with many artists of many disciplines. And doesn’t do cornball contemporary modern dance, which I still hate. I still hate that, no problem. I really, really hate that. Look[ing] into the horizon line you think, “What are you looking at out there? And why are you waving your arms around and looking sad and out at the horizon line?” Just stop that shit. The same is true for stripping. Same is true for performance art. Same is true for painting. Same is true for everything. It has to be about something, [or] driven, it has to be juicy and succulent and about something. [Y]ou have to know what it is, it has to be really important, or, you know, go home.

JK: Can you talk a little bit about what it was like to be in those worlds, because I also think that because some of these social classes don’t exist in the same way as maybe they did in my memory when I was first coming up in my ’20s. Or that stripping and burlesque was seen as such a sort of low form of entertainment. I mean, it was seen as “You’ve made poor choices in life, you’ve ended up here.” That wasn’t my personal experience. But I was a burlesque performer in the pre social media era, the Neo burlesque movement I see as being very different than what burlesque was even 20 years ago, never mind 30 and 40 years ago. I have an understanding of the history of [burlesque], about the evolution from burlesque to then stripping, when it became possible to be fully naked on stage in some provinces. How did you dance between those worlds? And how did people treat you?

MD: Well, the lack of respect was just something that grew to be normal. Unless someone was other[ed] in another way, you know, so drag queen performers and transsexual performers and transvestite performers, all these people that you would meet in the nightlife, were colleagues and those environments were more friendly and easier than a straight theatre or gallery. It just took a very long time for all of those things to evolve. But the lack of respect is… was stunning. What’s interesting is it reveals that, particularly around sexuality, and morality and things that are highly controlled by government, and church and society, and communities and family, and all those institutions, they’re deeply threatened. They’re very threatened by something that they don’t understand. I was always amazed at the complete prejudice. I don’t know why it just seems to be something I had to learn every day, I suppose, [r]e-learn every day, was that people thought they knew what happened in strip clubs, or what stripping was or how women were performing, or how men were performing or how drag queens were performing. They think they think they know all this, and they’ve actually never even stuck their nose in. [T]hey really are keen on making a lot of laws and have power to make laws over something they know nothing about. [T]his just seems stunning to me. And yet, it’s so common. [E]verybody thinks they know everything about sex, [t]hey know everything about desire, they know everything about what people should be doing and is right and is wrong and what they should be doing in public bathrooms. For Christ’s sake, get out of public bathrooms, you right-wing Christian people! What is it with the bathroom thing?

JK: I’m going to bring it back to Toronto because I am really curious to understand how it is that your archival materials came to be at FADO and what the relationship with FADO was like. So not that we will necessarily recount the entire chronology of your travels and movement but I understand that you left Toronto in the 1980s for Vancouver, then in the 1990s is when FADO came into existence. FADO Performance Art Center, Paul Couillard, and Tanya Mars. I think quite early on some of your material does show up in the archive, at least as [FADO] having maybe brought you out to participate in a performance in Toronto in the 1990s. Even though you were no longer living in Toronto at that point.

MD: Yes, that’s kind of basically it. That was, you know, great. I mean, just to return to Toronto, after a big life change, and, you know, having a baby and all my work was so different. I left Toronto, somewhat bitterly and to come back and, and realize, “Oh, look, it’s already so different.” It kept being different, in a good way. They were welcoming and supportive. And again, it was just nice to connect, then I had, you know, certainly two communities and other communities in the world that I was connecting with, I felt very much part of a performance art community, I still feel that I am although we’re all feeling a little isolated, I suppose. But [it was] fabulous. There weren’t really any archives that were resting with FADO. Until at one point, Paul and I were working on a project, actually the one you’re interested in, the Cleaning and Loving (It) project. Once we wanted to do that, which was a bigger thing than most of the things we’ve done. He wanted to do a book, he wanted to do a performance, he wanted it to be a residency. We were working things out by mail back then, there still wasn’t a lot of email. We sent long letters to each other and I would send him copies of clippings that he dutifully saved, and you know, organized, all this all this stuff towards this project, [w]here he also interviewed me, he made a DVD. I mean, all of this thing was quite a long project, because there was actually two parts to it over a several year period. That’s it, I guess. Now that technology doesn’t even [function] anymore, right? I don’t have a DVD player on my computer or any of my computers here.

JK: I was able to watch Cleaning and Loving (It) on DVD in the FADO archives. It is so great as a performance to really dive into because there’s so really rich commentary in it. Can you describe it? And also maybe describe [what your intention was]?

MD: Yes, now this is quite a long time ago… memory… where art thou? As I recall, [there were] two sections of the performance. There were individual performances that I was doing in people’s houses and apartments, where I would clean and shoot the cleaning and do something with it. People kept asking me, “Why is that a performance? [To] just go into somebody’s house and clean their oven or clean their fridge or whatever.” But I was collecting certain kinds of narratives at the same time, for some of them. I was investigating, and I was also pushing what I thought one-on-one performances could be. They weren’t even in style quite then, that was later. After that lots of people did one-on-one performances in festivals where you could go and see someone in a hotel room and they would do a performance or you’d see someone one-on-one in a library. This is super common now [and] there were other people doing it. I’m not saying I invented it, I did not invent it. But at the time, I was very interested in how can a singular thing in a really private space be a performance. So anyways, that intrigued me and I had done parades before. Paul was interested in a parade.

I think he might only have known of the DWI Protest Parade that had been some years before Cleaning and Loving (It). [The DWI Protest Parade] was one of the years that the Pope had come or was coming or something because originally I was promised a bunch of policemen on horses with the parade permit that I [was issued]. And [then] the horses were all busy with the Pope or something. So I just had a policeman, which wasn’t actually the look I was [go]ing for. But that’s okay. I invited everybody I knew, I formed a union, which was a union of one. I [had] whole committees of people. I had a daycare committee, there were parents with children who [came], there was a whole bunch of people who had red [clown] noses for some reason, I don’t know why that happened. But it did. There was protest banners and flags and I made a petition. I did a bunch of striking in all the places that I went. I stopped working for as long as I could, which I think was maybe just a few weeks. And I went to all those places where I was working, and went on strike and protested and demanded to speak to the management to talk about labor issues. And I was actually very serious about almost all of them because at that point I was working a lot in theater. I went to see a lot of the theater people and to explain to them what I didn’t like about the form of theater, what I didn’t like about the labor conditions around theater. It wasn’t all goofy. An artist pal of mine, Sheila Young, made a beautiful cardboard crowd for me that open[ed] from a center seam, kind of like those decorated bells where they’re flat, and you open them up, and then they’re a [3-dimensional] bell. So that I could have a crowd of supporters with me all the time. But it flattened so I could carry it. And my protest flags, so I could get on the bus with a few of my protest flags and [with] the crowd. I [could] go to where I was protesting, and set up the crowd and have the flags and then start demanding to speak to management. Anyway, we started from Queen’s Park, and went all the way down past Richmond [St], stopping somewhere I can’t quite remember where for that DWI parade. After that, and all the negotiation [I] eventually went back to work with this new sense of clearing the air, about labor and aesthetics and stuff. Paul liked that and said, “Would you like to do something, I guess in response to that?” I said, “Well…” I don’t know how we arrived on the idea that I would do another parade. But we did. He took on the organizing of it, which was much harder because it was years later. He had to go to City Hall, he had to contact several council people to get support to get this parade permit. And in fact, there was another kind of snafu when we got there. There had just been a big protest with homeless people where there was a lot of violence against homeless people at Queen’s Park. So Queen’s Park was kind of locked down with barbed wire and more cops. Cops are a theme here. Everyone was extremely uptight about having another public event. So quickly after all of this, if people were beaten, I think there still was even blood on the floor. It was [as] if it wasn’t there, it was metaphoric, that there was blood on the steps of Queen’s Park. It’s because of that I decided, well, I better clean those steps like Mary Magdalene and that became a kind of art action I did in various ways. For other performances, for Lady Justice and HIV/AIDS issues, the morality of, “Out damn spot!” all these kinds of issues around blood and guilt and disease and judgment and all of that. [T]he ritual of washing, washing, washing. So that was just in situ because of what was happening politically in Toronto. It felt to me when I got off the airplane. We collected a whole bunch of people that w[ere] mostly artists, and artists who had children also came, Tom and Anne Dean and their kids were all there. We made flags, we had live music and I did a little solo which was also about laundry and dancing and other spontaneous things happened like one of the children just started… Tom had bought a big broom. So he swept all the way—that’s a nice, lovely task to do. That’s a really clean art task, “I’m just going to sweep Toronto clean.” So he just did that. Particularly up and down the ramps, he was really into ramps at the time. So he would find ramps and really sweep those ramps, and some of the children just started washing things. Because I also had big buckets of Lysol and gloves and stuff for the scrubbing of the steps, and a baby carriage that I was taking down as part of my parade thing. Some of the kids just started washing the mailboxes and park benches, the bus shelters and stuff like that. And other people just start in, just started getting into it. And we would have a little pause. I remember right at the AGO, I think Andrew Patterson [washed] that Henry Moore sculpture, it [was] just [one of] those things, you know, [we] weren’t like, “Oh,d we must do that.” But it’s those cosmic overlaps and serendipity, chance things are beautiful. I mean, you just need one clear idea and one prompt, you just have to let everybody find their way with it. Everyone was amazing, they were very responsive to the idea, I just had to keep them moving.

JK: It’s so beautifully documented. It’s quite fantastic to me that it exists because it really is a time period that not as much was documented. I’ve had great conversations with Shannon [Cochrane] about performance for camera and performance for video, the difficulties with trying to translate performance art in video, but I think it’s quite special that the video exists [and] there is documentation, there is a DVD and to really sit with it and to try to transport yourself to that period in time and to doing [work] like that. I think [it’s] quite spectacular. So there is this Margaret Dragu special collection at FADO. At some point in time you provided some of your archival material to Paul, is that correct? Or did Paul sort of put it together?

MD: Yeah, what FADO has is really just based on Paul’s and my correspondence. My archives are actually not… I don’t consider them to be at FADO. Those are just basically clippings. [T]hat’s what I sent him over time. I mean, there’s a few other ephemeral things, we found some very strange knitting in there, which was from another weird performance that was later. My archives are actually at VIVO, in Vancouver. That’s boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. That’s posters and programs and photographs, and original photographs and clippings as well. But you know, all the original clippings, and all the archival stuff, videos, all that is at VIVO. [A]t one point, I just thought, I just can’t stand having this stuff under my bed anymore. It’s got to get out of here. I was just going to throw tons of stuff away. I thought I’m just going to put it in the garbage. I called VIVO and asked to speak to a technician and said, “How can I repurpose or safely dispose of all this old VHS tape, the cardboard? [D]o I have to take all that apart? What do I do with the tape and what to do with the plastic bits and like how do you do this?” He said, “Oh, there are places. I’ll call you back.” But he didn’t call me back. The people from the archive department, Karen Knights and Christa Dahl, called me about five minutes later and they said, “Don’t do anything. We’re coming over.” They came over with some gloves and some white boxes. I thought this is better than my wildest dreams and I mean they’re overwhelmed with the stuff they have to do, they really haven’t catalogued it and filed [it] and stuff like that. I mean, some has been but it still is a lot of stuff that needs to be done. I’m sure everybody who deals with archives says this all the time. Oh, there’s so much stuff to be sorted and labeled and done. But it got out of the house. Got out of the house—not house—but my little BC senior housing apartment here, and I was thrilled to get rid of it anyways. So the archives aren’t really at FADO. That is actually a misnomer. And I think Shannon wanted to get rid of them too. She had the same feeling. I think I did, “Let’s get rid of this shit.” I think she originally said, “Here’s this box, Paul [and] Margaret.” This was a while ago, before we did the videotaping for the toolbox for 7A*11D. She said, “Either, you know, take it or take what you want, I’m going to get rid of the rest and deal with it or organize it or whatever, do something with it.” She didn’t seem at all interested in it. Paul and I did and we laughed and laughed and laughed. It was so much fun to do. We just laughed so much looking at all that old stuff. And now here she is, she seems to be heading some kind of archive project. But I’ve also had a change of heart. I mean, I just, I used to say, you know dust bunnies under the bed, get rid of it, I don’t care. Or people would phone and say, “Oh, I saw this performance you did. I would like to redo it or do it as a version.” I’d say sure, go ahead. I had no interest. But over the last number of years, I’ve started to work with young, amazing artists who use the archive in a very creative and a very different way than what I imagine it’s not an homage, it’s not a redoing—its sourcing these things and creating very process driven creative fonds that go out to create new work that doesn’t necessarily look like the original at all, it is a different kind of way of looking at archives. So that’s Britta Wirthmüller, William Lockwheeler, Mikhail Prue, Felicity Taylor, and Justine Chambers. These are all people who work with archives in a very interesting, responsive way. I’ve had a change of feeling about it, it doesn’t seem just like dust bunnies anymore, it seems like just another source. It’s another language that you can, if you’re interested [in], that you can dip into.

JK: What’s interesting about it to me is that because now I’ve come to realize that there are these ten and twenty year cycles when it comes to culture, so that if you’re if you’re around long enough that you look back, say twenty years ago, and you sort of think oh my gosh, well look at how spectacular this was. Or if you’re somebody who’s coming up, and you are curious about what sort of legacies exist around the work that you want to do if you’re really going to actually go in and do you know, sort of proper research or appropriate research, then maybe you’re going to look at who some of the figures were doing the work ten, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Now that documentation still exists. In the 20th century, like in the 1970s, there just wouldn’t have been any documentation [of performance] at all, from twenty to thirty years prior in a recorded way it would have been so scant.

MD: That’s true. I can assure you when I was young, I had no interest in what older artists were doing whatsoever. Whether it was I mean, they just… I didn’t care. It was very much over 30—you’re a bore. What I’m doing—really interesting. What went before—snoresville. So I just felt oppressed and repressed by everybody, including Toronto The Good, that I just, you know, I hated a lot of things. I spent a lot of time being really angry and really hating things, not being interested. I’m an autodidact, and although people, some people my age who are autodidacts, there’s not even very many of us. Most of them that I knew were older and dead now. And it was easy for autodidacts to kind of take this high moral [road] of like, “I’m a real artist, because I did not go to school.” Like, “You are not because you’re teaching so therefore, you know, you aren’t an artist, I’m the real thing.” And that’s a luxury that no one has anymore. I could not do any of the things that I do if I was younger now. I mean, no. It’s just like, you know, loving that you’re the school of hard knocks from some combination of jazz dance and contemporary dance in burlesque clubs as your education and training. That idea is just not going to fly. Everybody has a Masters—you’re getting yours now. I would not be surprised, it would be amazing, if you got a PhD. Look at Alex Tigchelaar. I can never pronounce her last name. But you know her.

JK: It’s so interesting to hear you say that because there really was a time, even within my life where it was thought, those who can’t do art, or those who can’t really commit to art, teach. You were really seen as a failed artist, if you were teaching.

MD: Yeah, another opportunity for lack of respect, we just never seem to run out of these. But it’s also, my experience can’t be projected on someone who’s younger, the cultural framework is completely different. The finances are different. All of this is so different. When I first started teaching in and out of art schools and universities as either a guest artist, or occasionally [as] a sessional, I felt it was my duty to tell people, “You know what, you don’t need to be here, you can just leave this classroom and go out and start making art, get a few other friends who are with you on making art, get a studio start producing, support each other, you need a community, but you don’t need to have this degree.” And in fact, that’s… I don’t think true anymore. And it’s partly because we have a bigger population and there’s more competition. Everything is so much bigger and more crowded. It is a way of making it… I used to think of what curators did, as a way of gatekeeping, as a way of silencing and censoring. You have to deal with these university institutions, you know, they’re all trying to be more LGBTQ BIPOC understanding, but this progress is slow. There has been progress. I’m not here to poop on things. There have been some changes that are, you know, not enough. And still, we need more, but you know, thank goodness there are some changes. That’s one of the fallouts is [that] absolutely everybody has to have a doctorate. So that’s why I call myself a doctor. If you notice how I sign my emails “Dr. Dragu.”

JK: I have to admit I didn’t.

MD: It says Doctor Dragu MD, PhD, because MD is my initials. So since I already have MD awarded to me all my life, I’m just going to claim the doctorship.

JK: I guess to sort of close things up, [I’d like] to inquire about your feelings now, and your thoughts about people engaging with your [archival] material? And what is it that you like, what comes up for you around that with artists going to seek out your work, and your archive and to study it?

MD: Well, I immediately said yes to you, when you called and when Shannon called and said, “Hey, Jordan’s doing this project. She’s fabulous. What do you think?” And I thought, “Well, I might have time to reflect on that thing that’s from a long time ago.” But for me, I’ve had some very good experiences lately with people doing a very long committed amount of energy to the archives. I mean, for example, Britta and William from Berlin at age 70, took a solo from 1975 that Britta found from Danse Collection Danse archives, and spent time talking with me and interviewing me and talking and then we extrapolated a bunch of things. And she then replied in a personal way and did a performance. Justine saw that and then we invited her to also come on board and then we started to develop things and then we raised some money. And then we got the two Berliners to come here. And we worked for several weeks. And we developed this whole glossary and archive based on that solo in particular, but that whole performance at that time, and other contextual issues around it. They all replied, personally, we developed more stuff. And then we found this way of developing what we called an art generating machine that was these sort of 65 recipe cards that are the spinal column of the archive and we use them in different ways. [Th]ey did a performance, Justine and I couldn’t go because of COVID, but we did a series of performances for camera on video that we sent to them that they could use inside their performance audio recordings, a lot of audio recordings that were the same as—with the same title as the rest of the cards that were like long kind of thoughts for me, it could all be taken apart in different ways. We were just finishing the digital archives, just how I got to know Alex and Mikhail. That became a generative thing [which] was and has been, and continues to be very exciting. I’m always amazed and interested in what these very creative, fabulous artists can do with an archive. [W]hen I’m with them, I’m discovering new things all the time, I’m remembering and forgetting—I’m really good at forgetting. But I’m remembering, I’m forgetting. And we are creating new things together based on what’s exposed, what we share, that it becomes just a very intimate thing to do with someone. I don’t just hand something over and say “Goodbye,” which is what I used to say. I expect it to be an intimate dialogue, I see this as being [one as] well now [that] we’ve spoken twice. [T]he second time was more intense than the first time but even the first time was good.

I expect something will surface from our talking and looking at that performance [Cleaning and Loving (It)], or a series of performances or that particular thing that we’re looking at, that we’re calling, Cleaning and Loving (It), part one and part two. And that something will happen that we will decide, well, this is what we want to do. [It will b]e very urgent and very exciting. [W]e will make some art and what can be more fun than making new art with someone.

JK: I hope that for people who are getting a chance to listen, they’re fascinated to hear about your really like quite prolific career as a performance artist in Canada.

MD: If you were paying me by the pound, I would be rich. I have made a lot of stuff. I love making art. I mean, that’s all I want to do.

Conversation Score

Join Francesco Gagliardi, Shannon Cochrane and the artists and score-writing duos from A Score of Scores performance series as we gather post-event to reflect on collaboration, performance writing, authorship, and scores and their interpretation.  

Many of the performer and score-writing duos have been working together across vast geographical divides and will not have experienced the live work created from the scores in-person. If you do not live in Toronto and/or are not able to see the performances before this artist talk, not to worry. You will be in good company.

Artists from Toronto, Ottawa, Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Finland, Iran, Italy, N.Ireland and USA gather around the digital long table to tell stories, fill in all the details and construct a conversation score of all the scores together.

Abedar Kamgari & Naseh Kamgari
Holly Timpener & Enok Ripley
James Knott & Francisco-Fernando Granados
Keith Cole & David Roche
Laura Paolini & Tomasz Szrama
Mikiki & Jan Peacock
Paul Couillard & Elvira Santamaría-Torres
Rita Camacho Lomeli & Alejandro Tamayo
SA Smythe & Autumn Knight
Tanya Mars & Myriam Laplante

Moderated by Francesco Gagliardi & Shannon Cochrane

Register to join the ZOOM here.


The FADO website, created by the unique minds at I Know You Know, is guided by colour and scent.

The navigation menu contains the various categories by which FADO presents our work. The menu on the left side of your browser, where you see “about,” “performance,” “series,” “engagements,” and so on, highlights these areas. Each of the categories is color-coded and contains a description of a unique fragrance. The scent illuminates the qualities of the various ways FADO works. You can read the description of the categories/colours/scents in the footer of each web page. The notes of each scent (top, middle, and base) conjure the elements, memories, and characteristics of our performances, artists, engagements, writing, bulletin, and the archive. 

The fragrances are conceptual and actual. Some remain on the website as a description, in the form of a digital scratch n’ sniff that you can read and imagine for yourself. Some are formulated and are for smelling. Really smelling. 

FADO and I Know You Know are producing small editions of scented postcards and collectible objects for selected scents in the FADO scent collection. The second scent in the series is titled ENGAGEMENT PINK. Here we consider how artists and audiences connect, communicate, and engage. The engagements include artist talks, studio visits, workshops, round tables, Q&As, and more. Audiences ask, and artists answer.

Subscribe to the FADO mailing list and include your mailing address. If you are already on our mailing list, update your profile with your mailing address. DO THAT HERE, and your ENGAGEMENT PINK-scented postcard will be on its way.

SCREENING: Performance on Camera

© Rah Eleh, Oriental Drag. Image courtesy of the artist.

In September, FADO hosted a two-day intensive workshop entitled Performance on Camera. Led by video and performance artists Rah Eleh, this workshop invited artists to investigate the intersections between performance art and the camera through their practice. Artist participants engaged in a series of physical exercises focused on character development, exploration and physicality; followed up by hands-on learning of some of the practicalities of filmmaking techniques and lighting.

Using this guidance and the generated performance and video materials, the artists in Performance on Camera created a series of new video works. It’s two month later, but we can’t wait to see the results. Join us for a screening of all the works created in Performance on Camera.

Snacks, refreshments, conversation.

WORKSHOP: Performance on Camera with Rah Eleh

© Rah Eleh, Oriental Drag. Image courtesy of the artist.

Performance on Camera investigates the intersections between performance art and the camera. It is a two-intensive workshop hosted by the performance and video artist Rah Eleh. During the first day of the workshop, attendees can expect to do a series of physical exercises that will focus on character development, exploration and physicality. The second day of the workshop will be a lecture about filmmaking techniques such as framing and lighting.

Workshop attendees will be given the opportunity to create their own video that will be screened at 401 Richmond in FADO’s presentation and screening space at a later date (TBD). Attendees do not need any knowledge of performance or video production to attend, however a camera (phone or tablet cameras are acceptable) will be required for participation. Some knowledge of post-production editing is beneficial but not necessary. Attendees are welcome to explore a character they have previously developed or explore a new one. Participants will provide their own camera and any necessary materials (costumes, props, pen and paper are encouraged).

This workshop is offered for free of charge. Space is limited to 15 participants. Attendance is required on both dates. This workshop is in-person. Participants are required to mask in the co-working space and when social distancing is not possible.

COMPASS: to re-orient our practice of being together

Artist-led embodied research project by lo bil
Hosted by FADO Performance Art Centre

While this is performance-artist-based invitation, there is no imperative to perform for others. Through presence and attending to what you wish to do, you are potentially helping others attend to doing something they wish to do. Artists can use the time and space in any way they wish, however it is important to note that this project makes space for different forms of movement to occur.

COMPASS is a cross between a studio, a gym, a playground, a library and something unknown that welcomes all kinds of action and participation from both artists and visitors.

PART 1: September 6–9, 2022
We are seeking artists who wish to spend 2–3 hours from 11:30am–2:30pm daily, in a process of navigating shared space while engaging in their own performance practice. Each session will be very open for experimental approaches, varying levels of public interaction, and is intended as real-time embodied research. Each artist will discover for themselves the benefits and challenges of working in this way. Artists may choose to attend one or more sessions.

PART 2: September 13–16. 2022
In this time frame, a smaller group of artists from the first week will continue to develop the discoveries they have encountered, working towards a public showing on the afternoon of September 17. Artists involved in this second week of COMPASS will be paid a small honorarium for their participation.

PLUS: Join us for an open showing on September 17, 2022 from 1:00pm–4:00pm.

We welcome proposals from artists who cannot be physically present at COMPASS sessions to connect via video call or to offer provocations for public to engage in. All contributions, whether in-person or remote, will be credited. Everyone from emerging to established artists are welcome to join. Artists are also welcome to drop by during the first week or the final showing to see what’s up and/or to participate in unexpected ways.


Istvan Kantor presents an Internationally Controversial Performance Art Gala, featuring:
NON GRATA: Storm Generation
Performance Art Network Group from Estonia / New York

3:00pm: Empty parking lot, 163 Sterling Road
7:00pm: The Theatre Centre Pop-up, 1095 Queen Street West

Burning Iceberg Performance (Noise Band) with Wesley Rickert / Kathleen Reichelt
Solo performance by Jessica Karuhanga
Jubal Brown (A/VJ Mashup)

“Around the name NON GRATA there have been different hushes and shushes for a long time. Already from the point of view of death of conventionalization of art it has embodied the horrible and unwanted disembodiment of human person, from which the meaninglessness of nowadays art, is pouring out. For those, whose world of arts starts from the point, where the art world ends, NON GRATA has been a liberator, the orphic gap in the seemingly unalterable course, which however betrays us, it is a cure from incest. The main point of the group is ethical — it is the image of primitivism, impersonality and experimenting creativity. The performances of the group take place according to the logic of avoiding codes. The presentations are physical texts, whose ways of orthography and reading are kept within the limits of real actions by the group members. Aesthetical and provocative challenges are represented in places, where the Art World doesn’t work.”

NON GRATA, Art of the Invisible, Performances 2008-2011

Sponsored by FADO Performance Art Centre. Co-presented with SMASH (store & gallery). Technical support by 253569. Special thanks to the Theatre Centre and Castlepoint.

Archivo de Hueso by Wit López

Performance by Wit Lopez
With special guest performance by Amai Kuda et Les Bois featuring Y Josephine on percussion 

Feminist Art Gallery (F.A.G.) and FADO Performance Art Centre are pleased to bring to you a PERFORMANCE CINQ A SEPT with FAG residency artist, Wit López. With a Special Guest performance by Amai Kuda et Les Bois featuring Y Josephine. ALSO, Wit and Amai will also be performing original music!

Wit López is a Brooklyn-raised, Philly-made, award-winning performance conjurer and pro-magicianatrix creating art out of the joy and fear of being alive. As a disabled and chronically-ill, nonbinary trans, intersex person of African American and Boricua descent, López’s visual and performance work uses absurdity to convey and challenge how they experience the world.

Amai Kuda et Les Bois have been featured in NOW magazine and on CBC’s Canada Live and Big City Small World, as well as performed at venues like the Jane Mallett Theatre, Harbourfront, The Rivoli, The Garrison, and festivals such as Luminato, Kultrun, Big on Bloor and Small World Music Festival. They have given workshops on music, decolonization, African cultural knowledge and percussion at public schools, universities, libraries and community centres throughout Southern Ontario, in the Caribbean and Europe. Their latest album titled AfroSoul Volume Volume III: Re’ was described by NOW magazine as a “tantalizing Afro-soul combo of folk, roots, desert blues and African continental music.”

Performance! Snacks! Open invitation and free. All welcome.
We can’t wait to see you.

Established in 2010. The Feminist Art Gallery (F.A.G) is—a response, a process, a site, a protest, an outcry, an exhibition, a performance, an economy, a conceptual framework, a place and an opportunity. We host we fund we advocate we support we claim. The Feminist Art Gallery (FAG) is run by Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue. Other FAG activities: We are DAG (in collaboration with Gigi Basanta): a micro funding program that has so far supported four feminist art projects in Canada including: Les Blues, Colour me Dragg, No More Pot Lucks, Her Jazz Noise.


Curated by Dainty Smith & Golboo Amani

PUSH.PULL is a six-month online series of interdisciplinary events examining emergent and intersectional developments in performance art and QT BIPOC cabaret. Curated by storyteller, producer and stage performer Dainty Smith and multidisciplinary artist Golboo Amani, PUSH.PULL highlights QTBIPOC cabaret performers at the intersections of live stage performance and radical political performativity.

Adrienne Huard, Aggie Panda, Amber Dawn, Anasimone, Babia Majora, Betsy Swoon, Cara De Melo, Cat Zaddy, Crocodile Lightning, Dolly Berlin, Gay Jesus, Imogen Quest, Ivory, James Knott, Johlene, Kimora Koi, LAL, Lucinda Mui, Lwrds, Mikiki, Perle Noire, Rania El Mugammar, Ravyn Wngz, Suki Tsunami, Tanya Cheex and Tygr Willy.

PUSH.PULL presents three online Showcases featuring performers from across North America. Each showcase offers a diverse range of contemporary practices reflecting the theatrical, political and emotional range and depth of cabaret performance. 

April 9 @ 9:00pm (EST)
Featuring: Suki Tsunami, Lady Ore, Crocodile Lightning, Gay Jesus, Ivory, LAL  
BARE: A showcase of sensual exploration that reimagines and extorts the expectations of our own desires. Performances offering consensual and deliberate confrontations, challenging the idea of the submissive and passive nude. When skin is presented, when nudity is shown, who is vulnerable? Who is powerless? 

April 23 @ 9:00pm (EST)
Featuring: Betsy Swoon, Dolly Berlin, Johleen, Ravyn Wngz, Lucinda Miu, James Knott, Anasimone
TAUNT: A show that celebrates the power of seduction; of intentional sexuality. A thread of rage runs though burlesque. Burlesque is unapologetically rebellious, it is where the feminine, self-love, sexual agency and manipulation are performed without shame or explanation. It is a place and space where we can all misbehave together and where we are taunted by sexuality wielded like a weapon. 

May 14 @ 9:00pm (EST)
Featuring: Imogen Quest, Babia Majora, Cara De Melo, Tanya Cheex, Cat Zaddy, Mikiki, Tygr Willy, Adrienne Huard
TOPPED: Cautions, titillates and teases. The cabaret is a feminized, glamourous and glittered, a holy and sacred place. Moving and living through expressions of sexuality in its full scope of dominance and assertion, the performer toys and plays with gender, power, laughter, vulnerability, and seduction. In cabaret, we have the audacity to believe that our bodies are important, invaluable, meaningful and worth listening to. 

PUSH.PULL includes a three-part speaker series inviting performers and cultural creatives to engage in conversations at the intersections of visual culture, sex work, performance and politics by recognizing cabaret as a site of cultural production and community engagement. We’ve also included a series of workshops led by professionals in the field, aimed at engaging audience participants and community members in immersive skill-sharing experiences deepening appreciation, interest and critical engagement with cabaret.

April 14: Speaker Series: Unusual Business: The business of being a showgirl
April 28: Workshop: Body Love with Dainty Smith
For more information about PUSH.PULL workshops AND artist talks, visit Aluna Theatre

PUSH.PULL is presented in association with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre & Aluna Theatre. Sponsored by FADO Performance Art Centre. Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

Bricks & Glitter

FADO Performance Art Centre was pleased to help support Bricks & Glitter for their online and in-person (socially distanced) 2020 festival.

Bricks & Glitter is a community arts festival celebrating Two-Spirt, trans and queer talent, ingenuity, caring, anger and abundance. We are a trouble of queers who believe in creativity, collectivity and practicing the future in the now. We are intersectional be default and critical by necessity. Our 2020 festival centres Black, Indigenous and racialized artists coming together to imagine a world worth living in—for all of us. 

Ms. Nookie Galore, Franny Galore, Mikiki, leZlie lee kam, Tamai Kobayashi, Rhona Spencer, Buster Cherry, David Bateman, Jord Camp, DJ Xeynamay, DJ Mirass, DJ MXMSXY, DJ Pothound, Ivory, TravoyInTheFlesh, Mango Lassi, Drag King Sebastian, Pastel Supernova, Cat Zaddy, Midnight Wolverine, Billie the Kid, Namitha Rathinappillai, Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective, Mina Minou, Tygr Willy, Ola Minoul, Daddy Gambino, Kareena Pussy Couture, Sage Lovell, Thurga Kanagasekarampillai AND MANY MORE!

Bricks & Glitter 2020 was funded by the Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, FADO Performance Art Centre and Groundswell Community Justice Trust Fund.

Bricks & Glitter website
Bricks & Glitter on Facebook

Bricks & Glitter on Instagram

The Long Table hosted by Lois Weaver

Join us for a special presentation of the Long Table with Lois Weaver herself, presented in collaboration with Progress and the Rhubarb Festival.

The Long Table is a dinner party structured by etiquette, where conversation is the only course. The project ingeniously combines theatricality and models for public engagement. It is at once a stylized appropriation and an open-ended, non-hierarchical format for participation. Both of these elements–theatrical craft and political commitment–are mutually supporting in this widely and internationally toured work. The (often-feminized) domestic realm here becomes a stage for public thought.

As an experiment in performance as a means of public engagement, the Long Table has been taken up by a vast array of of practitioners in a variety of disciplines as a way to encircle, question, and reflect in a performative, and communal way. Lois Weaver, the originator of the Long Table, hosts this special edition for Progress.

Progress is an international festival of performance and ideas presented in partnership by SummerWorks Performance Festival and The Theatre Centre. The festival is collectively curated and produced by a series of Toronto-based companies, operating within a contemporary performance context. Progress 2018 is curated by: SummerWorks Performance Festival, The Theatre Centre, Anandam Dancetheatre, FADO Performance Art Centre, Little Black Afro Theatre Company, Toronto Dance Community Love-In, and Volcano Theatre.

This event will be ASL Interpreted. All welcome. FREE.

The Long Table hosted by Lois Weaver, 2018. Photo Henry Chan.

Artist Talks with Marita Bullmann & Ignacio Pérez Pérez

FADO is pleased to welcome Marita Bullman (Germany) and Ignacio Pérez Pérez (Venezuela/Finland) to the International Visiting Artists series, along with Liina Kuittinen (Finland). This series seeks to bring exceptional artists from the global performance art scene to Toronto, to present a new work and give an artist talk about their own practices and the contemporary performance art ecologies of their home cities/countries.

In addition to presenting new solo performance works, both Marita Bullmann and Ignacio Pérez Pérez will engage audiences in talks about their individual practices.

Marita Bullman and Ignacio Pérez Pérez’s appearance in Toronto is in collaboration with VIVA! Art Action, one of FADO’s enduring partners. FADO and VIVA! have partnered several times [Tomasz Szrama (Poland) and Macarena Perich Rosas (Chilé), 2013; Victoria Gray (UK) and Dorothea Rust (Switzerland), 2015] over the years to share the presentation of international artists to both platforms in order to bring exceptional artists and their work to audiences in both cities; in addition to giving visiting artists the unique opportunity of engaging with performance communities in both Toronto and Montréal.

© Marita Bullman, untitled (another small matter), 2017. Photo by Rebekah Dahlia.

How to explain performance art to my teenage daughter by Rachel Echenberg

Doors Open Toronto comes to The Commons @ 401 Richmond on May 26, for a day of film and video screenings. As a part of this program, FADO Performance Art Centre is excited to screen the world premiere of How to explain performance art to my teenage daughter (2018, video, 6:00) by Montréal-based artist, Rachel Echenberg.

How to explain performance art to my teenage daughter was originally a performance (2015) that was later remade as a video and photo series. The work references Joseph Beuys’ well-known 1965 performance, How to explain pictures to a dead hare, in which he explains his exhibition to a dead hare with his head covered in honey and gold. In Echenberg’s version, mother and daughter embrace the difficult intricacies of explaining art by simultaneously covering each other’s heads with honey and gold leaf. Absurdity and intimacy merge to reveal understanding as a sensory activity.

Echenberg’s work will be screened alongside a selection of works curated by our colleagues in The Commons @ 401, including: Alexandra Hickox’s Just Like You Do presented by Vtape; Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival presents A Cello in the Subway by Iven Tu; Wakening by Danis Goulet is presented by imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival; and The Mountain, Les Invisibles by Amshu Chukki is presented by South Asian Visual Arts Centre.

The 19th annual Doors Open Toronto, May 25–26, 2018, presented by Great Gulf provides an opportunity to see inside more than 130 of the most architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city. This year’s theme, “Film: The Great Romance” explores the city’s film and television industry. With more than 1,400 on-location film, television and digital media productions taking place in the city each year, Toronto is North America’s third largest screen-based production centre and the heart of Canada’s film and television sector. The Doors Open Toronto program features historic cinemas, film and television studios, post-production houses, digital media studios, artist-run centres and film training schools. The program also highlights buildings that have been featured in film and television, many of which are often not open to the public.

Archival Alchemy® by Joyce LeeAnn

AGYU and FADO Performance Art Centre welcome you to an on-line artist engagement with Joyce LeeAnn presented as part of the solo exhibition, Jess Dobkin’s Wetrospective. During our time together, she will lead us on a journey to explore archival processing as performance art.

Joyce LeeAnn is a certified archivist, an interdisciplinary artist, and the founder of Archival Alchemy®. As an archivist, she has worked for a community archive, a corporate archive, a large public library, and a prestigious museum. However, her archival praxis began as a young girl, and as an act of decolonization she centers her innate methods. Through her artistic projects, she is creating an archive of everything that she has conquered and is overcoming. This is the essence of Archival Alchemy®. Created in 2017 and cultivated directly from Joyce LeeAnn’s practice, Archival Alchemy® is a small business that supports institutions and artists to activate and enrich archives.

This artist engagement is presented in community with the AGYU as part of a constellation of talks, perfromances and public engagements for Jess Dobkin’s Wetrospective. The AGYU would like to thank: 16 TONNES, ampd*, FADO Performance Art Centre, franklin furnace, Hemispheric encounters (SSHRC), polyjohn, QUEST AV and Sensorium.

WATCH the archived talk on the AGYU website HERE.

Jess Dobkin’s Wetrospective
September 2–26, 2021

“Driven by an interest in how one might performatively engage the energetic liveness of archives from polysemous perspectives Jess Dobkin’s Wetrospective takes up and takes apart the linear, patriarchal, and authoritative conventions of archive-making impulses. Channeling them instead toward more rhizomatic readings and feminist relationalities, she upcycles her own archive of past performances in ways that constitute her concept of “bendy-time.” The “archive” performs in this exhibition at the same time as it makes sense of (as in making sensate and sensual) an artist’s 25-plus-years of performance art work—including all its material and immaterial remains, reminders, and affective labour. This exhibition demands of archives what we expect from performance: the live encounter of experience in a ritual of transformation. Taking past performances as cues and as clues, this exhibition is a polytemporal, feminist, and queer experience of an archive of possible futurities, open to forever accommodating the always-shifting communities of belonging that Dobkin’s performance practice entails and magically conjures.” ~Emelie Chhangur, curator

Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is a socially minded public non-profit contemporary art gallery that is a space for the creation and appreciation of art and culture. It is an affiliated and supported unit of York University, with key funders including the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Ontario through the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, foundations, embassies, other cultural institutions, and through our membership. Throughout its 32-year history, AGYU has always operated at the forefront of contemporary artistic, curatorial, and art institutional practices.

The Hemispheric Dinner Party Series

The Hemispheric Encounters dinner party series is a collaboration between Joyce LeeAnn, Jess Dobkin, Shalon Webber-Heffernan and Justice Walz. 

These gatherings are an offering – and importantly, an experiment – for artists, academics, archivists and activists to gather across borders, language, time zones and cultures for sensory, intimate connection in pandemic times. 

This series of dinner parties were made possible by Hemispheric Encounters, a partnership project supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and FADO Performance Art Centre.

Hemispheric Encounters: Developing Transborder Research-Creation Practices is a partnership project that seeks to develop a network of universities, community organizations, artists, and activists across Canada, the US, and Latin America actively working in and with hemispheric performance as a methodology, a pedagogical strategy, and tool for social change. 

For information and to follow projects as they develop, visit the Hemispheric Encounters website.

Workshop with Liina Kuittinen

Blowing because mouth knows how to blow and makes a sound for ears to hear
WORKSHOP with Liina Kuittinen

This workshop is, in itself, an experiment in process sharing, modest but direct. During the 2-hours of the workshop, Liina will expose the process of creation behind her most recent performance work, referencing her work presented in Toronto (see below) as the starting point for a series of practical experiments that Liina and the workshop participants will elaborate on together.

“I consider my artistic practice as minor scale resistance to the dominance of language. For example, it is difficult to say anything new about blowing, without blowing; whereas every blow is different from the previous. My performance practice evolves from the physicality of being and action. The body and its habits are my main material.”

DETAILS of the workshop:
This workshop is offered free of charge.
The space that the workshop is offered in accessible.
The maximum number of participants is 15.
The workshop will be offered in English.
You will be asked to participate in various exercises which may involve movement and voice.

It is not necessary to have previous experience in performance-making to take part; however it is highly recommended that participants attend Liina’s performance in the International Visiting Artists series event (on September 20) as a precursor to the workshop.

© Liina Kuittinen, Organ of Repetition. Photo Antti Ahonen.

Death, Sex, & Macrame (and other works) with David Bateman

This Performance Club Workshop will consider several of David Bateman’s past performance works, and ways in which he has re-considered various narratives/performance texts around sex and gender over the past thirty years. Works to be looked at may include: Death, Sex, & Macrame (2019), I Wanted To Be Bisexual But My Father Wouldn’t Let Me (1992), and the performance he will be presenting in the second part of his Performance Club 6, Art Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, subtitle; Does This Giacometti Make Me Look Fat? (2016).

Expect reading, writing and macrame curtain weaving.

Join us for Performance Club and get your own Performance Club: THE SYLLABUS, a brand new addition to FADO’s Golden Book series (as always, designed by Lisa Kiss). This time, it’s bigger (it won’t fit in your pocket, think book bag) and it contains three performance texts and an incredible intro, entitled, This is a Queer Series… written by Moynan King.

Join us after each performance for a talk back with the artist and their fellow club artists.
September 10: Moe Angelos in conversation with David Bateman
September 12: Hope Thompson in conversation with Moe Angelos
September 19: David Bateman in conversation with Hope Thompson

Save your Thursdays in September for the ultimate trio of Queer Performance Clubs performed by Moe Angelos, Hope Thompson, and David Bateman.

Reimaging & Remembering by Tharmila Rajasingam

Co-Presented by FADO Performance Art Centre and SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in the context of the In Situ Multi Arts Festival 

Reimaging & Remembering is a site-specific performance that collects and documents drawings of the Small Arms Building visitors over the period of In Situ. The piece is an evolvement of a previous memory building project that uses blind contour drawing technique as a way to preserve memory, through repetitive and organizational procedures. The drawings of the visitors will be installed on the windows of the Small Arms Building (an abandoned WWII munitions inspection building), as the drawings are created. The faces of the visitors will embody the physical space of the Small Arms Building, when looking in or out, the faces will help viewers remember the community that help to reimagine the possibility of the space. 

In Situ Multi Arts Festival is presented by the Small Arms Society, an incorporated non-profit organization. Our goal is to celebrate creativity and to begin public engagement around reimagining a future for this significant historic building.

MONOMYTHS: Artivism Workshop with Armando Minjarez

FADO is pleased to present an Artivism workshop with Armando Minjarez. This workshop is offered as a part of the MONOMYTHS series and is presented in the context of Progress Festival. 

Migration in a Postmodern Society

Artists have historically served as agents of change, risk-takers that cross the threshold from the status quo into the vanguard. The term Artivism has been coined by artists and cultural workers to describe their creative practice aimed at creating long-lasting social change. 

This workshop will address the role of an artist as an agent of change in a postmodern western society. Participants will partake in a process of dissemination and processing of site-specific cultural data, collected by artist Armando Minjarez through a series of interviews with community organizations in Toronto. Some of these community organizations or groups might include immigrants, refugees and native nations. 

How can artists introduce vitality, courage and innovation in social change work? The workshop will begin with a short presentation on the key elements of art in social change: Emotional, Visionary, Systemic, Popular and Bold.

Activities will be presented in a dialectic format with group discussions and sharing of personal experiences. Participants are encouraged to bring an open mind and full heart. 

MONOMYTHS invites a diverse collection of artists, scholars, and activists to revise Joseph Campbell’s conception of the hero’s journey through performance art, lectures, workshops, and other offerings. This new assemblage of non-linear un-narratives proposes a cultural, political and social feminist re-visioning of the world. The MONOMYTHS perception of the universal journey dispels the notion of the lone patriarchal figure on a conquest to vanquish his demons–both inner and outer–in consideration of community, collectivity, and collaboration.  

Performative Writing with Teena Lange

Teena Lange, from Legs, Too, 2015. Photo Henry Chan.

Co-presented by FADO Performance Art Centre + LINK & PIN Performance Art Series

Performative Writing or Creative Critical Writing is claimed to be, in itself, a form of performance, often taking as its subject a work of visual art or performance art. The core of this workshop is to develop sensitization for textures and the practice of taking the time to do the doing. 

Entering into performative writing allows the re/activation of the wording & being less paralyzed by the empty page, breaking through the trained fixation of meaning seeking structures of texts. Everyone can write. This workshop allows you to take time to experience another writing practice or develop one if you don’t currently have an active writing practice. Through a series of exercises the workshop will deal with linguistic matters, performative utterances, writing styles, the playground of proverbs, documentation dots & lines, various mechanisms of memory and referentiality, readership & queer quality management.

Performance lecture by Teena Lange on performative writing
October 1, 2015 @ 7:30pm
Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College Street, Toronto

Presented by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies, FADO Performance Art Centre and LINK & PIN Performance Art Series.

How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Eat Brunch?

Join Jess Dobkin and Martha Wilson for an intimate conversation and reflection on the performance, How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb? (For Martha Wilson) and discussion of the relationship between contemporary live performance and documentation. 

As the founder of the Franklin Furnace, a pioneering artist-run space that has led the exploration, promotion and preservation of performance art, Martha Wilson has been a trailblazer in preserving the history and documentation of live art practices. Speaking to the role of documentation in live art from the 1970s to present day, topics of interest will include the role of the archive, performing for the camera, and the ever-evolving relationship between live art and new technologies.

Post-performance Brunch + Talk with Jess Dobkin and Martha Wilson
Co-presented by Onsite Gallery at OCAD University and FADO Performance Art Centre

© Jess Dobkin, How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb? (For Martha Wilson), 2015. Photo by Tania Anderson.

How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb? (For Martha Wilson)
By Jess Dobkin and 40 volunteer documenters
Presented by The Images Festival

Made in response and as an ode to one of America’s foremost groundbreaking performance artists, Martha Wilson, performance artist Jess Dobkin’s newest work, How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb (For Martha Wilson), is at once a question, a joke, and a reflection on the ways we see. Taking a direct cue from Wilson’s 2005 video The History of Performance Art According to Me, Martha Wilson, Dobkin takes on the complex and riddled history of performance art, defining its terms and conditions, while acknowledging the slippery temperament of her task. Wilson is also the founder and director of the renowned Franklin Furnace, a legendary artist run space in New York City that once served as a venue, and in more recent years, exists as a virtual archive with the mission of “making the world safe for avant-garde art.” 

In Wilson’s oral history of the history of performance art, she by direct address to the camera, relates the following joke: 

Q: How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?
A: I don’t know. I left after 4 hours.

True to the character of the light bulb joke oeuvre where deviations occur over time and regions, Dobkin adds an additional variation of this joke concerning performance artists:

Q: How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?
A: One to change the light bulb and 40 to document it.

As a manifestation of these jokes and as a reflection of our screen dependent culture, Dobkin has developed a four plus hour durational performance where a performance artist (Dobkin) will change a light bulb with at least forty people documenting the piece through an exhaustive list of forms. From the ever-present phone camera, social media fanfare, and GPS locator, Dobkin also turns to the generations of how performance art has been documented, revisiting the various models of photography, video recording, film formats, drawing, writing, along with treaded analogue technologies.

How Many Performance Artists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb (For Martha Wilson) will be an attempt to overwhelm the definitions and intersections of performance, documentation, the archive and image reproduction to investigate the nature of performance itself. 

Questions at stake include: how is performance shared, transmitted, recalled, remembered? How do we understand the lifespan of a performance? How does the form and quality of the documentation impact our understanding of the original work? How have technological advances in documentation and image making changed our understanding and definition of performance art practices?

sin∞fin by VestAndPage

FADO Performance Art Centre is pleased to present a special screening of two episodes from VestAndPage’s performance-based trilogy, after which Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes will give an informal talk about the work.

sin∞fin The Movie, is a trilogy of films of collaborative performances by artist duo VestAndPage in epic locations around the world. Teetering between the real and the visionary, the films feature the two protagonists undertaking surreal and ephemeral acts. Amplified by the unfamiliar environments, the performances reflect on universal human experiences such as altruism, partnership and the transient nature of existence.

Episode #1, Performances at the End of the World, set in Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (2010) thematically focuses on the intimate, inner domain of the individual and the couple. The concluding episode, Performances at the Core of the Looking-Glass, filmed in Antarctica (2012) engages with narratives on nature and the universe. There is no script or storyboard and the artists’ actions evolve in direct response to the surroundings in which they find themselves. The camera records what possible spectators would view, yet the movie is not a documentary. Instead the works are pieced together organically, forming an autonomous story generated through the process of making to be read by each viewer in a personal way.

Diving into the absurdness of the quotidian, performances and installations were developed in response to each individual site. Based on the ethos of live performance, the two protagonists are primarily themselves – there is no acting in their actions; actions which appear poetic, but are based on real life. And still, sin∞fin The Movie is not a documentary, as the single acts are finally puzzled together organically, to generate a new story that enfolds through the dynamics that have been created, instead of through imposed intentions.

German artist Verena Stenke and Venetian artist and writer Andrea Pagnes have been working together since 2006, generating art in the mediums of live performance, filmmaking and writing, and through independent curatorship. Their works have been presented widely across Europe, Asia, the Americas, Australia and Africa. Their practice is process-led and conceived psycho-geographically in response to architecture, natural surroundings or historical sites. It examines the fragility of the individual within different social or environmental spheres. Exploring what, as human beings, we still have to offer, VestAndPage question our existence within a humanity characterized by social exclusion and global atrocities. Animated by a nomadic, confrontational spirit, they apply the themes of acceptance, resistance, crisis and endurance with a poetic bodily approach to art practice.


Episode #1: sin∞fin – Performances at the End of the World (Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, 2010)

The two characters move through the rooms of a house that has no address: the structure of their interior spaces, stuffed with visions and memories. Patagonia is a hybrid of pathos and agony. Here the Magellan feeling arises by opposing surreal dream-sequences to situations of everyday life. The winds and climate of the land situated at the end of the world cause and favour a continuous disintegration and consequential transformation of beings. The vastness of the area, its isolation and solitude, tell repeatedly of a unique nature, permeated by mystery and surrealism, inside which the individual adapts him/herself searching to find a home. 

Chile / Italy / Germany, 2010
DVD PAL, color, 00:38:52, 16:9, English with subtitles
A VestAndPage production 2010
Coproduction with CONFL!CTA Contemporary Art and Science Research, Punta Arenas (Chile)

Episode #3: sin∞fin – Performances at the Core of the Looking-Glass (Antarctica, 2012)

Here the two characters move through the deserted, icy Vastness of an oneiric land. They find themselves creatures being torn between life and death, absence and misleading mirages, fortune and emptiness. The flux of nature is mercilessly immense, where the wind sings its laments and silences its lullaby. All paradises are merciless, in a search for Beauty where anything is a Mirror. Is there any game left to be played, is there someone left to call for, when clocks don’t display time anymore, and no compass is guiding one’s way? Who’s the player and who’s the pawn, and whose turn is it, when civilization has lost its quotidian schemes, and just basic rules count? In the backdrop of Antarctica, a place where humans have neither roots, nor future, but only a frail and temporary presence always at risk, all questions inevitably lead to humbleness.

Argentina / Italy / Germany, 2012
DVD PAL, 00:45:42, color, 16:9, English with subtitles
A VestAndPage production 2012
Coproduction with DNA Dirección Nacional del Antártico, Buenos Aires; Thetis Spa, Venice.
With soundscape by Zai Kuning, Angie Seah, Black Sea Hotel and recordings of Weddell seal callings under the ice by the courtesy of Douglas Quin.

VestAnd Page, sin∞fin – Performances at the End of the World. Video still.

MayDay Workshop with VestAndPage

In this 6-day intensive MayDay performance art workshop, participants experience VestAndPage’s unique method through the process of making a performance art piece. Through practical exercises and reflecting on the use of the body as a tool, the workshop will focus on introspection as a way to develop authentic modes of expression and artistic action, and participants will be provided with the means to conceive, develop, and realize their own performance piece. Through methodology aimed at understanding prevailing behavioral patterns, participants will develop new ways of communicating and overcoming fears created by conflicting contemporary conditions. The workshops will also offer insight into the framework of process-led and conceptual art practice, with the aim to provide basis for future material. Participants will develop a heightened awareness of mind and body, with the means to stimulate artistic personal action though inner sensitivity.

As facilitators, VestAndPage will lead exercises on a range of performance techniques and approaches which blur the boundaries between fine art, live art and contemporary performance practices:Working solo and as a group;

  • Creating intimate solo performance material;
  • Devising and improvisation techniques;
  • Actions/rules/chance-based techniques;
  • Objects and actions in space as performance;
  • Developing quality of presence;
  • Confidence in using the physical self as a vehicle for meaning in performance;
  • Audience-performer relationships—levels and modes of interaction;
  • Exploring the role of time and pattern, e.g. duration, endurance, speed, and repetition.

Through the following processes:

  • To work towards touching point zero in judgment and intention, heightening perception, introspection, to then rebuild an authenticity-based expression, to transform visions and ideas into a concrete artistic action.
  • To take distance from being virtuous by establishing, evaluating, and energizing the personal action in se.
  • To free oneself from common behavorial patterns so as to create new ways of encountering, collaborating and living.
  • To overcome the fragile constituent limits, may they be based on physicality, fears or social patterns.
  • To touch and strengthen the most human inner sensors in order to activate personal and universal memories, for using as germinal matter for future artistic substance.
  • To enter a state of heightened awareness and perception, in order to conceive out-of-the-ordinary artistic visions, being in first instance process-led.

Actions and exercises are innovative and process-led, inspired by processes and methods such as: Dynamic Creative Breathing, Social Theater, Living Theater, Grotowski, Barba Stanislavsky, Leclerc, Oriental Theatre, Martial Arts, Contemporary Dance & Butoh, Authenticity, Inner Library, Liminality, Breath, Archetypes, Rituality, Memory activation, Object work, Time-Duration-Rhythm, Voice/Sound, Emotional Atmosphere, Inter-activity, Group dynamics, Macro- and Microspherology.

There will be a final public presentation on May 19 @ 7:00pm

Andres Pagnes & Verena Stenke, 2014. Photo Henry Chan.

Artist Talks with Gustaf Broms, Macarena Perich Rosas & Tomasz Szrama

In September, FADO Performance Art Centre is pleased to present an instalment of our International Visiting Artists series. We welcome Macarena Perich Rosas from Chile; Tomasz Szrama from Poland, living in Finland; and Gustaf Broms from Sweden. Join us for a casual artist talk with these three amazing artists and hear them talk about their practices and the work they will be presenting during their time in Toronto.

Tomasz Szrama’s appearance in Toronto is in partnership with VIVA! Art Action (Montréal). Macarena Perich Rosas’ appearance in Toronto is in partnership with LIVE International Performance Art Biennale (Vancouver) and VIVA! Art Action.

LIVE International Performance Art Biennale was founded in 1999 and has located Vancouver, Canada as an important and recognized node of local, national, and international performance art activity and critical study.

Established in 2006, VIVA! Art Action is an international performance and live art festival presented once every two years in Montréal. The festival takes place in the of old bath St Michel in Mile End, and with the participation of the network of artist-run centres in the city.

© Tomasz Szrama, Enter Through the Emergency Exit, 2013. Photo Henry Chan.

The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information (Hospitality 5) by PME-ART

FADO Performance Art Centre, Mercer Union Contemporary and PME-ART present:
The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information (Hospitality 5)

By Caroline Dubois, Claudia Fancello & Jacob Wren
Collaborators: Mathieu Chartrand, Sylvie Lachance & Radwan Ghazi Moumneh

A pile of records and a record player. For every record we have one story at the ready. For each performance we will play different records in a different order and tell the stories that go with them. This creation by PME-ART, part five of the HOSPITALITÉ-HOSPITALITY project series, explores the way music infiltrates our personal and social lives, affecting our ongoing understanding of love, work and how we think society should operate.

Focusing on artistic collaboration, the work of PME-ART is an ongoing process of questioning the world, of finding the courage to say things about the current predicament that are direct and complex, of interrogating the performance situation.

PME-ART’s past works include the installation HOSPITALITY 2: Gradually This Overview, and the performances HOSPITALITY 3: Individualism Was A Mistake and HOSPITALITY 1: The Title Is Constantly Changing, as well as Families Are Formed Through Copulation/La famille se crée en copulant, Le Génie des autres/Unrehearsed Beauty and En français comme en anglais, it’s easy to criticize. PME-ART’s performances have been presented over the last twelve years in thirty-five cities in Quebec, Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States.

In 2012, PME-ART was nominated for the Conseil des arts de Montréal’s Grand-Prix and was short-listed for the first 1% dedicated to performance art (Integration of Art in Artchitecture Program), commissioned by the new building 2-22 art actuel, in Montréal.

A PME-ART creation, in co-production with FFT-Düsseldorf. In collaboration with Studio 303 and the Norderzoon Festival-Groningen. PME-ART would like to thank The Conseil des arts de Montréal, The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec & The Kunststiftung NRW (Germany).

© PME-ART, The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information, 2013. Photo Shannon Cochrane.

Workshop: Interaction with Objects with Andrés Galeano

Performance Art is often defined as a non-objectual art practice that celebrates proudly its ephemeral character by creating situations that are experienced live. Despite this almost every performance art work can be characterized by the interaction of the artist’s body with objects in concrete time and space. This performance art workshop aims to focus on the different uses, potential interactions and properties regarding this very important performance element: the object. 

Some objects seem to gaze back at us and attract our attention and curiosity. The workshop will explore these “special” objects and our relation to them through the concepts of aura, fetish, relic, symbol, poetic, memories, body, narration, fiction, transformation, function, meaning, (im)materiality, (in)visibility, presence/absence etc. in order to create a performance based on a composition of actions involving objects. 

The workshop will provide each participant with cross-disciplinary artistic instruments (such as text, speech, sound, video, photography, painting, sculpture, installation) and with historical and contemporary examples of different strategies for dealing with objects (including Dadaism, Happenings, Fluxus, Body Art, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, Visual Poetry, Concrete Music) in order to obtain the necessary theoretical and practical background for developing their own performances. 

Every participant is asked to bring three personal objects to work with during the workshop. These objects will be the starting point for the various tasks and discussions in the workshop. The objects could be personally very resonant, reminding of a specific time or place, or they can be mundane objects that are encountered on a daily basis. In either case they will be treated as propositions for potential actions and conceptual exploration. 

Day 1: Introduction of the participants and of the workshop topics through the presentation of the personal objects. Physical exercises to warm up the body and get confidence in the group and in the space. Exploration of the body as an object: Exercises to be present and neutral. 

Day 2: Some group tasks and improvisations interacting with objects: exploring the meaning, function, use and properties of specific objects. Research around the immateriality and invisibility of objects and our personal memories and stories related to them. Some historical and contemporary examples of art works that approach objects from an interesting point of view. Screening of videos and photos to illustrate each position and open discussion.

Day 3: Some individual tasks and improvisations based on interacting with objects. Preparation of a proposal for an own performance based on the three personal objects. Individual discussion of the proposal with the facilitator and group. 

Day 4: After a period of individual preparation. Workshop culminate in an informal public presentation of the performances. 

The workshop is open to students and professional artists who have a background in contemporary art practice. Although this is a performance art workshop, applicants are welcome from any artistic background, as long as they have a desire to engage with a performative process and tasks. The workshop may be of particular relevance to visual artists or text and sound based artists who have an interest in more conceptual based processes. 

Performance Art Workshop: Interaction with Objects
Workshop: February 20–23, 2013
Performances: February 23, 2019 @ 3:00pm

This workshop is presented in association with The 34th Rhubarb Festival and coincides with the presentation of Step by Step, a performance by Andrés Galeano and Ieke Trinks, taking place at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre from February 23–March 3, 2013.

Interaction with Objects, 2013. Photo Shannon Cochrane.

Performance As Encounter with Agnes Nedregård

FADO Performance Art Centre is pleased to offer a 5-day performance art workshop facilitated by Norwegian performance artist and educator Agnes Nedregård. This workshop is offered leading up to the dates of the 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art taking place October 21-31, 2010. Workshop participants will present short works in early afternoon sessions and in the public realm on the first two days of the festival for festival audiences and visiting artists, organizers and curators.

This workshop will focus on the performance as an encounter in real time.
Encounter with space
Encounter with material
Encounter between performer(s) and audience

Question: You might know something about what you are bringing as performer, but what does the audience bring to the performance?

There will be an emphasis on process through exercises, using our bodies and creating material, trying to get a bit further in how to be present in a performative encounter. The students will work individually and in groups. Students are asked to bring an open mind and wear loose clothes.

Day 1: Encounter between body and space
Day 2: Encounter between body and material
Day 3: Encounter between bodies
Day 4: Encounter with time and memory
Day 5: Encountering yourself in meeting with the other

Dates: October 16-20, 2010
Location: Toronto Free Gallery, 1277 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Cost: $250 (does not include food, materials or accommodation)
Maximum of 8 participants

FADO will not turn anyone away due to inability to pay the full fee for the workshop. If you have financial concerns, please contact us. If you are traveling from outside of Toronto, we can help you to find accommodation to fit your budget.

Please send a short description of your experience as it relates to the workshop, performance art or related interests, including a brief statement of what you hope to gain from this experience. If you have a CV, artist bio and images of previous work, you are welcome to send those as well. The workshop is open to students, visual artists, performance artists, as well as non-artists, non-students, and non-performance artists.

Workshop: Performance As Encounter, 2010. Photo Henry Chan.

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.

© Yoshinori Niwa, Nonsense Group Photo of 111 Toronto Citizens, 2009. Photo Shannon Cochrane.

What is Important? with BBB Johannes Deimling

This 5-day intensive performance art workshop will be led by internationally recognized performance artist and educator BBB Johannes Deimling. Presented in partnership with the 7A*11D International Festival of Performance Art, the participants will present final performances in the context of festival programming.

Alica Grant
Agnieszka Forfa
Christian Messier
Guillaume Provost
Hélène Lefebvre
lo bil
Rodolphe-Yves Lapointe
Val Desjardins

Workshop dates: October 17–21, 2008
Final performances: October 23–24, 2008

7A*11D is a not-for-profit, artist-driven collective that curates and produces English Canada’s oldest ongoing biennial of performance art. 7A*11D was established in 1997 by a group of performance artists, collectives, and organizers, eager to develop a forum for performance art in Toronto. The first 7A*11D International Festival of Performance Art, in August 1997, presented the work of 60 local, national and international artists.

Tanya Mars Publication Launch

From Iconic to Ironic: The Performance Works of Tanya Mars
Edited by Paul Couillard

Tanya Mars has been a key figure in Canadian art since she burst on the scene in 1974 with her first groundbreaking exhibition, Codpieces: Phallic Paraphernalia. Provocative and political, Mars has relentlessly shown us that the way to the jugular is through the funny bone, creating a series of compelling “three-dimensional pictures” that have made her one of Canada’s most acclaimed and important performance artists. This anthology offers a comprehensive look at her career, including a DVD with photo and video documentation of many of her major works.

“An innovative leader in the performance art scene here and internationally, Tanya Mars makes art that is courageous, humourous, operatic and original. Ironic to Iconic gives the reader a cogent and too little-known background to Mars’ career and her role in the development of performance art in Canada.”
~Jessica Bradley, curator and director of Jessica Bradley Art + Projects

A Conversation with Bruce Barber

Join us for an afternoon conversation with Bruce Barber on the occasion of the launch of his latest two volume book, Performance, [Performance] and Performers (edited by Marc James Leger, YYZBooks, 2007).

Bruce Barber is an artist, writer, curator, and educator based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches at NSCAD University. His artwork has been shown at the Paris Biennale, the Sydney Biennial, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Walter Phillips Gallery, London Regional Gallery, and ArtSpace Auckland. Barber is the editor of Essays on Performance and Cultural Politicization and of Conceptual Art: the NSCAD Connection 1967-1973. He is co-editor, with Serge Guilbaut and John O’Brian of Voices of Fire: Art Rage, Power, and the State. His critical essays have appeared in numerous anthologies, journals and magazines. His art practice is documented in the publication Reading Rooms. He is best known for his early performance work, his Reading Rooms, Squat Projects and his writing and theory on Littoral Art.

“Bruce Barber is the quintessential dissident theorist/artist. Navigating the history of contemporary performance and performative conceptual art with ease, he maintains the position of the artist, the maker. His unique approach is dense and rewarding, a virtual intervention into the standard social performance narratives. Barber’s subtle iconoclasm—aimed at the generalizations (we) critics have promulgated—expands the context in which performance is considered and creates in the process a new kind of criticism that tackles the contradictions embedded in postmodernism and political art activism. Barber zeroes in on the function of the work, monitoring a kind of chain reaction as it acts on culture, rather than as an enactment in culture. These two volumes contain the most intelligent treatment of performance phenomena to date.”
~Lucy R. Lippard, author of Get the Message? A Decade of Art for Social Change

Conversation moderated by Clive Robertson

DOCUDRAMA with Elvira Santamaría-Torres

In conjunction with FADO’s on-going International Visiting Artist series, we invite local performance artists to participate in a new networking initiative. This is a chance for you to come meet international visiting artists in person, and talk to them (and a few of your local colleagues) about your work. To this end, FADO proposes DOCUDRAMA, an informal evening where up to 10 local artists can meet to talk about their work and show up to 10 minutes of documentation. Space is limited and we want to keep the sessions limited, therefore participants must reserve their spot in advance.

In this DOCUDRAMA, local artists are invited to present short talks about their work in the presence of Mexican artist and organizer Elvira Santamaria, who presented her work as part of the IDea Series.

DOCUDRAMA with Chumpon Apisuk

In conjunction with FADO’s on-going International Visiting Artist series, we invite local performance artists to participate in a new networking initiative. This is a chance for you to come meet international visiting artists in person, and talk to them (and a few of your local colleagues) about your work. To this end, FADO proposes DOCUDRAMA, an informal evening where up to 10 local artists can meet to talk about their work and show up to 10 minutes of documentation. Space is limited and we want to keep the sessions limited, therefore participants must reserve their spot in advance.

In this DOCUDRAMA, local artists are invited to present short talks about their work in the presence of Thai artist and curator Chumpon Apisuk, who will be visiting Toronto with various representatives of EMPOWER and 5 – 6 Kumjing dolls. EMPOWER’s project of migrant dolls will be exhibited at the Global Village (Metro Toronto Convention Centre) as part of the XVI International AIDS Conference taking place in Toronto August 13–18, 2006. EMPOWER’s visit is assisted by the Toronto Sex Worker group, Stella.

DOCUDRAMA with Anja Ibsch

In conjunction with FADO’s on-going International Visiting Artist series, we invite local performance artists to participate in a new networking initiative. This is a chance for you to come meet international visiting artists in person, and talk to them (and a few of your local colleagues) about your work. To this end, FADO proposes DOCUDRAMA, an informal evening where up to 10 local artists can meet to talk about their work and show up to 10 minutes of documentation. Space is limited and we want to keep the sessions limited, therefore participants must reserve their spot in advance.

In this DOCUDRAMA local artists are invited to present short talks about their work in the presence of German artist and organizer Anja Ibsch.

Artist Talk with Boris Neislony

Thanks to the Goethe Institut in Toronto for hosting this very special artist talk with performance artist Boris Neislony. This artist talk accompanies a new performance entitled, Four Nature Studies.

Artist Talk with Boris Neislony
November 17, 2003 @ 6:00pm
Goethe-Institut Toronto, 163 King Street West, Toronto

Four Nature Studies by Boris Neislony
November 18, 2003 @ 8:00pm
Cinecycle, 129 Spadina Avenue, Toronto

Masterclass with Rachel Rosenthal

Rachel Rosenthal has been teaching and refining her original performance techniques for 45 years, beginning the 1950s in Hollywood with her company of performers, INSTANT THEATRE. She has done residencies with various colleges and universities, museums and galleries, artist colonies and companies throughout the US as well as in Canada and Europe. She also teaches regularly at her Espace DbD studio in Los Angeles. Her “Doing by Doing” approach integrates aesthetic, technique and performance theory with active movement and vocal improvisation. Her integrated approach to working recognizes that the human animal is a complex creature encompassing spiritual, political, social, emotional and physical realms. This is a rare opportunity to work with a teacher whose classes have been described by participants as a “mind/body spa.”

This workshop is a ‘master level’ class with limited space. The organizers are pleased to acknowledge the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council in helping to make this workshop possible.

Artist Talk with Anna Banana

Anna Banana is a Canadian artist from Vancouver known for her performance art, writing, and work as a small press publisher. She has been described as an “entrepreneur and critic”, and pioneered the artistamp, a postage-stamp-sized medium. She has been prominent in the mail art movement since the early 1970s, acting as a bridge between the movement’s early history and its second generation. As a publisher, Banana launched Vile magazine and the “Banana Rag” newsletter; the latter became Artistamp News in 1996.

In this artist talk presented by FADO Performance Art Centre at A Space, Anna Banana talks about her work in performance, and her various mail art projects including ARTISTAMP News and BANANAPOST.

A Reading with Deanna Ferguson and Judy Radul

The A Space Events Committee in cooperation with FADO is pleased to sponsor a poetry reading by Vancouver artists Deanna Ferguson and Judy Radul, who are currently on tour to promote their new books. 

Deanna Ferguson’s collection of poems The Relative Minor was recently published by Tsunami Editions of Vancouver. Her work has also been published in absinthe, Front, hole, Jag, Raddle Moon, Writing, West Coast Line and the anthology East of Main (Pulp Press). Ferguson’s poems are a collage of fragmented images and familiar phrases, peopled with pop icons from Jack Kerouac and Sid Vicious to Spock and Elvis. The effect is a distillation of the violent and the mundane framed in an unsettling shorthand.

Judy Radul is an interdisciplinary artists who has worked with the spoken and written word, performance, installation, photography, video and film. She has published three books including Character Weakness rivulets cross cross cross vision (1993), Boner 9190 and the weak (1989), both by KNUST press in Holland, and Rotating Bodies (1988) by Peterad Press in vancouver. She was recently the editor of Front magazine published by the Western Front in Vancouver, and is currently the curator Front Gallery. 

Judy Radul’s writings follow visceral experiences to unexpected conclusions. She probes the soft underbelly of first-person experience, finding the degradation, humiliation and occasionally exultation in being. Character Weakness rivulets cross cross cross vision is a limited edition hand-made artist’s book printed in full colour using a special process involving old and new Gestetner printing processes.