Series
Performance Resolution(s)

Resolution:
a firm decision to do or not to do something.
the quality of being determined or resolute.
the action of solving a problem.
the process of reducing or separately something into its components.
the smallest interval measurable by an optical instrument.
the conversion of something abstract into another form.

ARTISTS
Cindy Baker
David Bateman
Kate Barry
lo bil
Kiera Boult
Alexis Bulman
Ulyssess Castellanos
Chipo Chipaziwa
Keith Cole & Jeanne Randolph
W. A. Davison
Emily DiCarlo
Claudia Edwards
Vanessa Dion Fletcher
Serge Olivier Fokoua
Marie-Claude Grendon
Moynan King
Hélène Lefebvre
Tess Martens & Holly Timpener
Roy Mitchell
Laura Paolini
Diana Lopez Soto
Jordyn Stewart
Clayton Windatt

Performance Resolution(s) is FADO’s 2021/2022 at-home residency series. Participating artists were chosen from a Canada-wide open call for submissions inviting artists to propose performance-based research projects that engaged with the theme of ‘resolution.’



It goes without saying that 2020 changed everything. The world is now a very different place than before. (We resolve never to say, “it goes without saying” again.) For artists working in live art and performance, events were cancelled and festivals postponed. What happens to embodied practice when the bodies can’t be together irl? With dizzying speed, we were compelled to bring performance to the tiny back-lit screen as an alternative. Sometimes that worked. Without being able to gather in large groups, sometimes we leaned on old tricks (what performance artist doesn’t know what it’s like to perform in a half-empty theatre?) to shoehorn our work into the current context. More often than not, to keep moving, we stuck with the script—over producing and addicted to presentation.



But thankfully the new year brings with it fresh starts, new directions and an opportunity to reflect. We make promises in the form of new year’s resolutions—a private or public personal commitment to change. Most resolutions dissolve by the end of March, or sooner. If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us that transformation comes slowly. The real breakthroughs are still in the (social) distance, but a seed has been planted.

Our inspirations for Performance Resolution(s) are the hope for a better 2021 for all, and a profound performance exercise designed by Marilyn Arsem that we think about from time to time. Read Marilyn’s exercise below.

Some of the projects in this at-home residency series will have tangible outcomes; many will not. The point was not to find to way to support artists through replicating old ways of doing things by keeping the hamster wheel of production going. Instead, we encourage a slowing down and a deep dive into what it means to have resolve, even if you don’t have the answer. 

Watch this space for updates on various projects and research contributions as they reveal themselves over the 2021–2022 programming year.

Series
Performance Home

FADO’s on-going residency series, launched in 2020 in direct response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Participating artists in 2020–2022
Simla Civelek
Louise Liliefeldt
Irene Loughlin

Series
Performance Club

As a proposition for a performance or the framework for an actual book club, FADO’s Performance Club series redefines the historical and contemporary performance art canon, one book club, and one book, article, essay, or anthology at a time. Invited artists perform the role of book club facilitators, leading the audience through a performance of a reading, a reading performance, a performance about a book, or a bookish performance. This series is on-going. Sometimes we pick the book and invite an artist; sometimes we invite an artist and they pick a book. Just like a real book club, we ask the audience to read the suggested material before coming to the performance. But don’t worry, just like a real book club, no one ever does. 


Performance Club 1: Queer/Play
Edited by Moynan King
Performance by Moe Angelos
December 14–15, 2017


Performance Club 2: Valley of the Dolls
Performed by Keith Cole
January 20–February 20, 2018


Performance Club 3: 9Questions, an artist project by Gustaf Broms
That time we made our own book, 2018


Performance Club 4: Book Club: snowflakes in the echo chamber
Performed by Moe Angelos
September 10, 2019


Performance Club 5: The Talking Grave
Performed by Hope Thompson
September 12, 2019


Performance Club 6: Art Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, subtitle; Does This Giacometti Make Me Look Fat?
Performed by David Bateman
September 19, 2019

Series
Performance Academy

FADO Performance Art Centre newest recurring performance series takes on the abstract form of a school, a university, a workshop, a class or a course, in the form of our own homemade academy. 

Performance Academy is a platform in which artists constitute their own school of learning – performing pedagogy – for an audience in the form of peer-to-peer academia, where self-organizing and personal experience as knowledge is valued over institutionalized frameworks. Artists, writers and creative thinkers from the performance art milieu as well as adjacent practices such as curation, social practice, film/video and more, develop and offer mini-courses (of three or more sessions disseminated over several weeks) presenting ideas and covering a range of topics and  that each facilitator is already an expert in (however one might define “expert”).

Performance Academy is not a workshop and it’s not a school either. It’s best understood as a public engagement opportunity with an artist who is invested in inverting notions of authority in practice, research, and pedagogy. Through a sustained commitment to collective learning, Performance Academy transforms the concept of a course into a group performance. A workshop in the form of a performance; a performance in the form of a school.


Performance Academy 1
INCONSOLABLE SOLVENCY by Bethany Ides / DOOR UNLIMITED
September 10, 17 & 24, 2017

Performance Academy 2
Performing the Critique by Dino Dinco
October 11, 18 & 25, 2017

Performance Academy 3
Good Bodies by Cindy Baker
December 16, 2017

Series
MONOMYTHS

Conceived and curated by Jess Dobkin and Shannon Cochrane

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.

Joseph Campbell’s influential book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) prescribes a common pattern to all of the world’s mythic narratives. According to this fundamental structure, the archetypal hero is challenged to embark on a monumental quest. Over the course of the hero’s journey, trials and obstacles must be overcome until a victory is won and the hero returns home with new knowledge about himself and the world. Campbell’s concept of the monomyth (‘one myth’) is a recognizable motif in both ancient mythology and contemporary culture, including film, music, literature, sports, and advertising. A current trend in popular visual culture replaces the male character with a female one, in spite of the fact that our heroine–from the get-go–would make different choices if the conditions, and conditioning, allowed. While each MONOMYTHS stage stands alone, the work of each presenting artist is interdependent and connected. These independent visions, when stitched together through the audience’s collective presence, form an exquisite corpse of a larger experimental narrative.

The year-long MONOMYTHS project is presented in three sections starting in February 2016 and concluding in February 2017.


Part 1 (February 3–7, 2016)
Stage 1: The Ordinary World/Call to Adventure
Stage 2: Refusal of the Call
Stage 3: Meeting of the Mentor
Stage 4: Crossing the Threshold
Stage 5: Belly of the Whale

Part 2 (May 2016–January 2017)
Stage 6: Tests, Allies, Enemies
Stage 7: Ordeals
Stage 8: Atonement with the Father/State
Stage 9: Apotheosis/Journey to the Inmost Cave

Part 3 (February 15–19, 2017)
Stage 10: The Road Back
Stage 11: Refusal of the Return
Stage 12: Mistress of Two Worlds
Stage 13: Freedom to Live
Stage 14: The Return Home

Series
The Golden Book

The Golden Book series is an irregular limited edition book/lette series containing a single text, photo essay, interview, or abstract didactic about a forthcoming performance project. Each Golden Book is designed by Lisa Kiss Design.

Editions in the series include:

Golden Book 1
Film: Rope
 by Francesco Gagliardi (2013)
Dangling That Rope, essay by Andrew James Paterson

Golden Book 2
Duorama 1–4
Photo essay on the works of Duorama performance series by Paul Couillard and Ed Johnson

Golden Book 3
PULSE by Mary Coble
Workbook and key for Coble’s 2016 MONOMYTHS performance of the same name

Golden Book 4
x for staying here with us now by Sheri Hay (2018)
An interview between FADO and the performing object in the work of Sheri Hay

Golden Book 5
Intimate Karaoke, Live at Uterine Concert Hall
by Dayna McLeod
From Specular to Speculative: Intimate Encounters @ Uterine Concert Hall, essay by Alanna Thain

Golden Book 6
Performance Club: The Syllabus
The Syllabus contains everything you need for your Performance Club 4–6 experience (including that pesky homework).

Series
Escapist Action: Performance in Recession

Curatorial Statement by Don Simmons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

GREY CUP SUNDAY
Grey Cup Party by David Frankovich

Series
IDea

Curatorial Statement by Paul Couillard

Issues of identity are at the centre of IDea, FADO’s multi-year international performance art series. Chris Barker writes that cultural politics are about “the power to name; the power to represent common sense; the power to create ‘official versions’; and the power to represent the legitimate social world.” These powers speak to identity in a territorial, institutionalized framework, but performance practices offer the possibility of turning their presumed weaknesses—contingency, ephemerality and aterritoriality—into strengths, by offering a potentially decolonized, non-institutional forum.

The concept of identity has been at the forefront of art discourse since the 1980s. Performance artists have been particularly concerned with how our various identities are constructed, how they mark us and how they influence self-understanding. At the same time, artists have also used performance tactics to problematize and transform their identities. In recent years, the debate has shifted to examine identity issues in subtler, less didactic ways, using the territory of identity as a ground for complex and often ambivalent readings of subjectivity, hybridity and representation. IDea draws from this growing body of work.

The series considers a broad range of identity labels, including gender, skin colour, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, physical appearance, familial role, economic status, political affiliation and profession, to name a few of the more obvious possibilities. In blunt terms, the series will circulate around an underlying set of interrelated questions. How do we accept or resist these multiple identities? Which do we choose to embrace, and why? What identity labels are misleading, unhelpful or irrelevant, and in what ways? How do these labels intersect with one another? How do they determine the nature and quality of our lives? How do they contribute to a sense of belonging or alienation?

While these questions inform the series, they are only a contextualizing lens, not a prescription for how individual projects should or will be structured. IDea is not about representation, or the politics of difference, which is to say that the intention is not to assemble a collection that presents one of each kind. We are not encouraging strident political statements (though there is certainly room for them), but rather, featuring works that reveal something about how the creators understand and situate themselves. Along the way, we also hope to track how artists use performance tactics to circumvent prescribed attitudes and behaviours around identity.

IDea seeks to consider a range of bodily identities—physical, social, political, emotional, and spiritual. To provide further context for the series, commissioned critical that respond to each of the performances. These texts will come from an interdisciplinary variety of thinkers in the realms of philosophy, religion, politics and science.


The IDea series presented 12 performance projects between 2005–2007, and was curated by Paul Couillard.

Series
Emerging Artists

Initiated in 2003 by Tanya Mars, FADO’s Emerging Artists Series was created to provide an on-going professional venue for emerging artists from Toronto and beyond to develop and present a performance piece, working within a curatorial framework set out by an emerging curator. FADO’s intention with this series is to nurture new work and ideas, provide direction and mentorship to both the artists and the curator, and to showcase the work of the city’s newest perspectives in performance art.

FADO’s Emerging Artists series was initiated in 2003 by Toronto-based artist and educator Tanya Mars, who recognized that the best way to encourage young artists was by offering them a professional exhibition opportunity. Her vision was one of mentorship, targeting an interesting mix of new and emerging artists, many of them former students, whom she commissioned to develop new works responding to a thematic context. The initial evening of ambient, conceptual and cabaret-style performance art gestures curated by Mars later developed into a series designed to highlighting the work of Toronto-based emerging performance artists.

As the series developed, it became clear that this was an opportunity to nurture not only emerging performance artists, but also emerging curators. This strategy allows FADO to encourage new curatorial voices in performance art – an urgent need – and introduces us to new communities of artists. Most recently, the series has further developed to include artists not just from Toronto, but regionally as well. This furthers the series goal to showcase the range of work happening in the emerging performance scene in Canada.

The Emerging Artists series was a staple of FADO’s programming year from 2003 to 2014, and was always one of the most popular events in our performance art calendar.

2014: 11:45 P.M. | curated by Kate Barry
2013: .sight specific. | curated by Francisco-Fernando Granados
2011: Extra-Rational | curated by Gale Allen
2009: Misinformed Informants | curated by Lisa Visser
2008: Vivência Poética | curated by Erika DeFreitas
2007: Enter-gration | curated by Nahed Mansour
2005: Open Airway | curated by Elle McLaughlin
2005: Feats, might | curated by Alissa Firth-Eagland
2004: Home Repair by One Night Only
2004: Game City | curated by Craig Leonard
2003: Gestures | curated by Tanya Mars

Series
Canadian Performance Art Legends

Since 2000, FADO has been celebrating Canada’s senior performance artists with this multi-faceted series. Featured artists are asked to create a major new work, which is followed by a (text and video) publication documenting the artist’s history in performance. The series curator and publication editor is Paul Couillard.

Canadian Performance Art Legends has honoured:

2000
Margaret Dragu
Cleaning and Loving It (performance, 2000)
La Dragu: The Living Art of Margaret Dragu (publication, 2002)

2004
Tanya Mars
Tyranny of Bliss (performance, 2004)
From Ironic to Iconic: The Performance Work of Tanya Mars (publication, 2009)

2006
Alain-Martin Richard
The Route to Rosa (performance, 2006)
Alain-Martin Richard: Performances, Manoeuvres and Other Hypotheses for Disappearing (publication, 2014)

Series
Public Spaces / Private Places

Public Spaces / Private Places was a 3-year long international performance art series featuring 22 projects, created by 26 artists, from Canada, the US, Europe and Asia. The series explored the elements that turn neutral ‘space’ into meaningful ‘place’ through performances that examined the degrees of intimacy, connection and interaction that mark the dividing line between public and private. The series was particularly focused on performances created for intimate audiences. Some projects featured site-specific or installational environments that invited participants into a sensory or experiential journey. Others were process-oriented, involving public intervention, intimate gestures, or actions that were, by their nature, nearly invisible. Above all, the series explored the points where identity and geography intersect to generate meaning.

The series took place in Toronto in various locations, from 2000–2003, and was curated by Paul Couillard.


2002–2003
Walking and Getting Rid of Something by Kirsten Forkert
Promenades by Sylvie Cotton
The Rootless Man by Iwan Wijono
Disposition by Adina Bar-On

2001–2002
Talking to my Horse by Archer Pechawis
A Gathering for Her by Reona Brass
Mettachine (Sequence 1) by Louise McKissick
Feu de Joie by Randy & Berenicci
Open Surgery by Oreet Ashery & Svar Simpson
Remembrance Day by Johanna Householder
Disclosure by Undo
Meridian by Marilyn Arsem
One Stitch in Time by Devora Newmark

2000–2001
The Addmore Session by Istvan Kantor
spoken house by Otiose
Public Web by Tagny Duff
Numb/Hum: A Subterranean Metropolitan Opera by Christine Carson
Between Us by Jerzy Onuch
Ethel: Bloodline by Louise Liliefeldt
where do I go from here? by Stefanie Marshall
Urban Disco Trailer by Jinhan Ko
Evanescent Rumour by Tony Romano

Series
TIME TIME TIME

TIME TIME TIME was a 12-month series of durational performance art works by artists from the UK, US and Canada, presented in Toronto and curated by Paul Couillard. TIME TIME TIME presented works ranging from 12 hours to several days. Ritual, endurance, attention span, community-building, altering states of consciousness, boundaries between public and private, narrative, linearity and transformation were explored in the series by artists presenting their compelling, urgent visions of ourselves and our world at the end of the 20th Century.

January: Linda Montano
February: Alastair MacLennan
March: Rebecca Belmore
April: Tanya Mars
June: Roddy Hunter
June: Shannon Cochrane
August: Frank Moore
September: Otiose (Ailith Roberts and John Dummett)
October: Jennifer Nelson and Glen Redpath
November: Jenny Strauss
December: Clive Robertson
December: Paul Couillard



Curatorial Statement by Paul Couillard

‘Performance art’ is a difficult beast. Not many people really know the term, and even less could say what it means. For those ‘in the know’, the definitions vary widely: some definitions are very personal, while others are tied to very precise and limited historical references.

My own approach to understanding or defining the term ‘performance art’ is ‘radical’ – in the sense of looking to the ‘roots’ of the practices grouped under the term ‘performance’. Performance has four basic formal elements: time, space, the body of the performer(s), and the relationship between performer and audience. In broad terms, performance includes the various established forms of ‘theatre’ (in all its genres from recitation to puppetry to melodrama and so forth); ‘dance’ (from ballet to tap to ballroom); and ‘music’ (classical, a cappella, rap…). I use the term ‘performance art’ to name works that engage the four elements of performance, but use one or more of them in ways that are unfamiliar, unexpected, or initially unrecognizable within the cultural context that they are presented.

For the past 15 years, I have been creating and producing works that I call performance art. In calling them performance art, I am suggesting that the ‘project’ of these works, or at least of my involvement with them, has been to explore the basic elements of performance, to experiment, to research—often, to push at what appear to be the established boundaries of form. To create new forms. To look at forms outside of my personal cultural currency. To be consciously a misfit.

The premise of TIME TIME TIME is to look at the element of time or duration through performance art.

We have very odd ways of understanding time. This is apparent in how we mark time in units that can seem relatively ‘objective’ (‘days’ and ‘years’, determined by the earth’s relationship to the sun – and useful for things like planting crops or knowing when it will be dark or light) or ‘subjective’ (e.g. ‘the millennium’), depending on what we know or imagine about how these measurements came to be. Is a second meant to be a heartbeat? Why are there 60 of them in a minute? Why 24 hours in a day? Why 12 months in a year?

Here in North America at the end of the 20th Century, the measurement of time seems to press heavily upon us. Our attention spans have been perhaps sharpened but undoubtedly shortened by technologies of our own creation, while an artificial row of zeroes may be poised to wreak havoc on the electronic infrastructures of what we call ‘civilization’ and possibly on our collective psyches as well. It seems an appropriate time to look at ‘time’, to return to our ‘roots’ in time.

TIME TIME TIME is a series of 12 works by different artists, presented in Toronto over the course of a year (1999) – approximately one a month – with each work lasting a minimum of 12 continuous hours.

Twelve continuous hours is one full sweep of the face of a clock, a commonly understood time marker that surely holds many conscious and unconscious cultural connotations. Half the length of a day, twelve hours is generally long enough to encompass at least one transition of light—from ‘day’ to ‘night’ or vice versa. It is longer than the average work period, but within the realm of many types of shift work. Twelve hours is certainly a far longer time period than that normally associated with either spectatorship or entertainment, but not an unheard-of length of time for engagement in a task, or for many forms of teaching, community activity, or spiritual practice.

Twelve hours is also a long enough period to raise several practical bodily considerations for the artist in terms of going to the bathroom, drinking, eating and sleeping. Artistry is, in many ways, a response to restrictions; it is the agency that one carves out of the confrontations and resistances one encounters in the struggle to create or express. With but a single formal restriction (that the piece must be a minimum of 12 continuous hours in length), TIME TIME TIME offers the audience a chance to look at how 12 sets of artists solve these ‘practical’ problems that time brings about. How do these artists turn 12 or more hours into a performance? How do they invite an audience to engage with this work? And what clues does this provide to us about how these artists understand what performance is, what time is, and how meaning is produced through time?

This sampling of work is in no way meant to be taken as a definitive survey of the durational performance work being produced right now. Although I attempted to bring together a range of artists and approaches, the curatorial process was limited by both financial restrictions and my own ignorance. Every day I learn of other artists and works that I would have liked to have seen included here. Nevertheless, I am extremely proud of the calibre of work in this series—by artists from several cultural backgrounds, of varying ages, and at various stages of their careers. They are teaching me a great deal about the mysteries of time. It is a rare privilege to be able to observe and participate so closely in the process of these generous, creative souls—and I am forever transformed by their work.

Series
Five Holes

Curatorial Statement by Paul Couillard

Five Holes foregrounds our bodies by examining aspects of the five basic human senses. The presence of bodies—the performer’s body and the audience members’ bodies—is an essential element of performance. We ‘perform’ when we bring our bodies into relationships with an audience in time and space. Five Holes considers some of the ways in which sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste allow us to perceive. At the core of this project is a concern with our bodies as a root aspect of humanness. The presence of bodies—the performer’s body and the audience members’ bodies—is an essential element of performance. We ‘perform’ when we bring our bodies into relationships with an audience in time and space. Five Holes foregrounds our bodies, considering some of the ways in which sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste allow us to perceive.

Civilization has constructed a worldview where ‘virtual’ reality has become a tantalizing ideal – a desired end point that will offer our consciousness and imagination a new beginning and a new territory to explore. At the same time, cultural theory has come to consider our bodies as something separate from our selves – referring to an objectified Other, ‘the body’, sometimes understood as a ‘text’, and sometimes considered as one ‘site’ among many to be inhabited. Our bodies are now subject to interrogation on multiple fronts, particularly in the realm of performance – from Stelarc’s assertions that “the body is obsolete” to Orlan’s surgical remodeling of her physical appearance. It seems that we are following an inevitable path, guided by René Descartes’ oft-quoted maxim, “I think, therefore I am.” We are in a headlong rush to abandon our bodies – our imperfect, traitorous physical forms that suffer, wear out and eventually die. We seek immortality and omnipotence, two qualities that our ‘minds’ can imagine but that our ‘bodies’ can never attain.

But where and how are knowledge and imagination generated? For me, the answer lies in the daily struggles and resistances that my body undergoes. I am motivated by imperatives – survival, empathy, a search for fulfillment – that are bodily driven. Learning does not come from having my thoughts fully realized the moment that I think them; learning comes from experience, which is another way of saying that it develops through the process of making my thoughts manifest in physical form. Learning happens as I go about trying to reconcile my theoretical ideal with the exigencies of physical laws and available resources. To ‘do’ inevitably brings a deeper, more nuanced understanding than to ‘imagine’. This is not a simple or straightforward process: it brings pain as well as pleasure, and often what I discover seems neither fair nor friendly. Nevertheless, I am not so eager to leave behind my cross-eyed, bow-legged body. I love this life, and I am certain that what I have to learn or discover can only be manifested through my body.

We define our living bodies in multiple ways: as material (flesh, blood and bone); as process (respiration, circulation, electrical impulses); and as vessel (of experience and consciousness). It could be argued that our senses are what constitute our bodies. We associate our senses most directly with ‘sensation’, the domains of pleasure and horror, but our senses also play a larger role in connecting us to the world and shaping our identities. They are how we apprehend the world—the points of intersection between our individual consciousnesses and the actuality of time and space. It is through our senses that we undertake and negotiate our relationships to each other and our surroundings. Human senses have developed over time. Each sense provides us with a different set of information, evolving, if we believe Darwin, according to what best allows us to survive and prosper as a species. As conditions change, and as our bodies adapt in other ways, presumably our senses could also change. Five Holes provides artists and audiences with an opportunity to test their senses as they are now, informed by both history and imagination.

Five Holes brings us together in this time and this space to see, touch, smell, hear and taste. These varied projects are united in their search for the possibilities—not only for pleasure, but also for knowing – that the senses have to offer.


Five Holes was a multi-year, multi-event series curated by Paul Couillard. Spanning the years 1995–2006, each iterative event highlighted one of the body’s five senses.

Five Holes: I’ll be seeing you (1995)
Five Holes: Touched (1997)
Five Holes: reminiSCENT (2003)
Five Holes: Listen! (2004)
Five Holes: Matters of Taste (2006)

Series Purple

An ode to FADO's history, Series Purple is composed of a collection of purple fragrance materials dating back to the Roman Empire. Dense, intense, and meandering, this fragrance tells us non-linear stories.

Top Notes

huckleberry, violet

Middle Notes

cassis, lilac, heliotrope

Base Notes

orris root, purple sage, labdanum