Open Surgery by Oreet Ashery & Svar Simpson

Performance
August 19-26, 2001232 Parliament Street, Toronto4:00 pm to 8:00 pm

FADO presents Open Surgery, an interactive live art installation with British artists Oreet Ashery and Svar Simpson. This is the latest instalment in FADO’s ongoing Public Spaces / Private Places series.

Surgery (Concise Oxford Dictionary)
2) a place where a doctor, dentist, lawyer or other professional person gives advice or treats patients;
3) the occasion of this


Open Surgery is a playful investigation of notions of ‘self-improvement,’ with references to psychiatry, psychoanalysis, alternative therapies and ‘self-help’ industries. Ashery and Simpson look for ways to address notions of isolation and alienation while exploring the role of the artist as communicator, activist and magician.

Open Surgery kicks off on Sunday, August 19 with an opening party in the Waiting Room, an installation space where the general public is invited to play. The Waiting Room will be open every day from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. At the opening, ten lucky individuals will be invited to book an appointment in the Consultation Room, where the artists will work with the visitor to identify the participant’s sense of their own physicality and difference. A Treat-Meant will then be proposed.

The artists explain:

“The Treat-Meant may involve, for example, text, photography, creating body-prosthetics, breathing, touch, self-prescribed herbal remedies, food, juice, sense-stimulation, clubbing, and so on. We might propose to cook a dinner for the visitor, or make a toy for them/with them….We’re addressing the ‘confessional’ and notions of ‘true/fictional/performed-self’ in relation to confession. Open Surgery is interested to act out a common obsession to know-and-better-oneself, especially in relation to our bodies, our differences, and our sense of identity/identities. We want to investigate and develop models of shared intimate experiences.”

Join us after Open Surgery hours on Thursday, August 23 at 8:00pm for an artist talk with Oreet Ashery and Svar Simpson. The exhibition closes with a feedback party on Sunday, August 26.


ARTIST STATEMENT by Oreet Ashery and Svar Simpson

Open Surgery will take place in two rooms. The first room will act as a Waiting Room open to the public throughout the duration of the piece. Entrance into the Consultation Room will be by appointment only, for participants who have booked a session. Participants/visitors come for a first one to one/two consultation with the artists. This initial session will combine various methods of communication, like: conversation, questionnaires, touch, the use of websites and ‘gadgets’, art-making, etc. We work together with the visitor to identify an aspect of the participant’s sense of their own physicality and difference.

Combining our ‘life-experiences’ (as a move away from using notions of ‘expertise’) the two of us then create a Treat-Meant for the participant, which than becomes a Treat-Meant proposal. The Treat-Meant may involve for example text, photography, creating body-prosthetics, breathing, touch, self-prescribed herbal remedies, food, juice, sense-stimulation, clubbing and so on. We might propose to cook a dinner for the visitor for example, or make a toy for them/with them.

The participants come for their second meeting, where we present them with our Treat-Meant Proposal, and then they can commission us to go ahead and treat them, which we do. At the end of the piece, participants are invited to a feed-back party/dinner/ meeting.

Open Surgery is working with and critiquing institutions like psychiatry, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, new-age/alternative/art-therapies, methodology of conventional science, western medicine, ‘self-help industries’. Therefore, the relationship between us and the participants attempts to mobilize some of the power-structures and epistemologies embedded in institutions such as those mentioned above, and offer a channel for shared communication in ways that re/address notions of isolation, alienation, a disturbing sense of difference, displacement, feelings of lack of attention/time. We offer a treat!

We are interested in acknowledging the artist as communicator, activist, magician, shaman, alchemist, cook, visual performer, as a friend and as a stranger. We’re addressing the ‘confessional’ and notions of ‘true/fictional/performed-self’ in relation to confession. Open Surgery is interested to act-out a common obsession to know-and-better-oneself, especially in relation to our bodies, our differences, and our sense of identitiy/ies. We want to investigate and develop models of shared intimate experiences.

Although the project is performative, it’s intentions are by no means cynical. The process involved intends to be experimental, experiental, expanding and playful by nature.

Open Surgery also plays with notions from the art -world like ‘commissions’ and ‘open surgeries’ [a term sometimes used in the British art system for art crits], as a way of exploring the slippage between art and general strategies of survival and expansion.


Presented with support from the British Council and London Arts.


Image © Oreet Ashery & Svar Simpson, Open Surgery, 2001. Photo Paul Couillard.


Artists


Documentation


Writing


Engagements


Series

Performance Yellow

This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?

Top Notes

yellow mandarin, mimosa

Middle Notes

honey, chamomile, salt

Base Notes

narcissus, guaiac wood, piss, beer