Writing
Francesco Gagliardi on Tanya Mars’ GOOD BUY!

Image © FADO, 2018. Photo Henry Chan.


Good evening,

My name is Francesco Gagliardi and on behalf of FADO I am delighted to welcome you to the opening of GOOD BUY! by Tanya Mars.

Saying that the person you’re about to introduce needs no introduction is usually a cliché, but on this occasion it’s just a statement of fact. If you’re here tonight you know Tanya, and if you know her you love her – or at least you want some of her stuff.

So instead of talking about Tanya I will talk about myself, and I will tell you about the first time I sat eyes on Tanya Mars. It was about ten years ago – at the Lower Ossington Theatre: just a few doors north of her old apartment, which many of you will remember. Seiji Shimoda was performing his then already famous table piece, in which he cavorted on and around a table for about an hour wearing no clothes. The piece was originally performed using a custom-built table, but by the time I saw it, it involved the use of what Seiji referred to as “indigenous” tables: tables found on site and somehow connected to the ecosystem of specific performance communities. At the end of the evening, Shannon Cochrane – then, as tonight, the wizard behind the curtain – thanked Ms. Mars for lending the table. She waved off the acknowledgement rather brusquely, shaking her head in a way that was soon to become familiar to me: a sort of modified hair flip, the last phase of an elaborate sequence of actions starting with her glasses repeatedly traveling up and down between the bridge of her nose and the crown of her head, and invariably getting entangled in her platinum blond hair. It was 2008 and she had just been awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual Arts. I found her rather formidable.

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that it was Tanya who lent the table, and not just because she lived next door: she sat (at her table) at the very centre of the city’s performance ecosystem. As I came to learn, if you needed something, chances were that Tanya had it. And, if she had it, she would lend it to you no question asked. A rotary telephone or a rotating tray, a yard of pink fabric or a pair of riding spurs, faux fur, real fur, fake eyelashes, thigh-high fishing boots or tap shoes, a thurible, a button in the shape of a gondola or a gondola made of buttons, two identical cocktail hats or five boxes of plastic bobblehead dogs.

Over the years, this extraordinary collection has grown while traveling from Montreal to Toronto to Shelburne Nova Scotia, and back to Toronto – aboard moving vans and cars, up and down elevators and flights of stairs, in and out of storages rooms, attics, and unfinished basements – in labelled and unlabelled boxes and plastic bags, or rattling inside containers that were themselves part of the collection: hatboxes, slide projector cases, 1950s Bakelite handbags hand-made by nuns behind the Iron Curtain. Over the years, out of this accumulation, Ms. Mars has built her performance worlds: the costumes, the sets, the props – her tools and weapons. You might recognize a clear-plastic umbrella from The Pursuit of Happiness, a toy baby grand piano from Tyranny of Bliss, silver shoes that have glimmered in several pieces since the 1960s.

But building worlds requires discipline and discrimination. Four buttons may not be enough, but six is one too many. The shape of the vase may be right, but if the weight is not, you can’t use it. Mixed in with the performance relics, still radiating the afterglow of their brief tenure as art objects, a lot of what fills the room next door is just stuff that has never been used. Not exactly refuse, but material waiting to be called to life – a sort of counter-image of Tanya’s world: the feathers that didn’t make it onto the hat, the five gorilla dolls discarded at the last moment, the gloves that would have been perfect if only they had been a brighter yellow. This shadowy double (the dark side of Mars, if you will) is not only revealing of an artist’s discernment and taste, but full of potential waiting to be activated. It was chosen and collected with care, it almost came to life and didn’t – but it still could. It lies dormant, waiting to be awakened from the uncertain repose of objecthood.

Like in every fairy tale awakening, it is always the sleeping princess, really, who awakens the prince. So listen to the murmur of the feathers, feel the golden fabric, let those turquoise slippers entice you: they might bring you places you didn’t even know existed.

Wake up, make sure you have the exact change, and GOOD BUY!

Artist
Francesco Gagliardi

Image © Francesco Gagliardi, Some Reconstructions, 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art, 2014. Photo Henry Chan.


Italy / Canada

Francesco Gagliardi is a performance artist, writer, and occasional filmmaker based in Toronto. His performance work has been presented internationally in venues including Issue Project Room (Brooklyn, NY), The Ontological-Hysteric Theater and The Stone (NYC), The Wulf and Pieter (Los Angeles), Esorabako (Tokyo), Fondazione Mudima (Milano), FADO Performance Art Centre, Harbourfront Centre, and 7a*11d (Toronto). His film work screened in venues including TIFF Wavelengths, the Torino Film Festival, Images Festival, and it was the subject of a retrospective at Pleasure Dome (Toronto) in October 2017. He teaches in the Department of Philosophy and at the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies, University of Toronto. 

Francesco Gagliardi Interview with Mike Hoolboom

Artist
Tanya Mars

Tanya Mars. CRONE, FADO Performance Art Centre, 2017. Photo by Henry Chan.

USA / Canada
www.tanyamars.com

Tanya Mars is a feminist performance artist who has been involved in the Canadian art scene since 1973. She was a founding member and director of Powerhouse Gallery (La Centrale) in Montreal (the first women’s art gallery in Canada), editor of Parallelogramme magazine for 13 years, and very active in ANNPAC (the Association of National Non-Profit Artist-run Centres) for 15 years. She has also been an active member of other arts organizations since the early 70’s. Her work is often characterized as visually rich layers of spectacular, satirical feminist imagery. She has performed widely across Canada, and internationally: Svalbard, Chile, Mexico City, Sweden, Denmark, France, China, Finland and the US.

She is co-editor with Johanna Householder of Caught in the Act: an anthology of performance art by Canadian women (2004), and More Caught in the Act (2016), both published by YYZ books and partners. She was a member of the 7a*11d (1998-2022) that produces a bi-annual International Festival of Performance Art in Toronto.

In 2004, Mars was named Artist of the Year for the Untitled Arts Awards in Toronto. She is the recipient of a 2008 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and was an International Artist in Residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2008. In addition, a book on her work published by FADO and edited by Paul Couillard, Ironic to Iconic: The Performance Works of Tanya Mars, was launched in 2008.

In the 70s and 80s Mars’ work focused on creating spectacular feminist imagery that placed women at the centre of the narrative.  Since the mid-90s her performances have included endurance, durational and site-specific strategies. Her work is political, satirical and humorous. She has worked both independently and collaboratively to create both large-scale as well as intimate performances. Recent work reflects on our complicity in the world of excess and consumption in the face of economic collapse, as well as the impact of aging on the female body.

She recently retired from teaching at the University of Toronto Scarborough after 25 years and currently lives off-grid in Middle Ohio, N.S. She has one daughter and 3 grandsons. She is looking forward to whatever comes next, post-retirement, post-covid-19.

Performance
GOOD BUY! by Tanya Mars

Toronto’s hottest performance art pop-up shop is GOOD BUY! by Tanya Mars

For 3-days only! Not to be missed! Rare opportunity! Something for everyone! Be the first to own an original Mars! Everything must go!

Q: What do performance artists do when faced with rising rents, rarefied availability, aging and too much stuff?
A: Go out of business! (or)
B: Downsize. Re-purpose. Re-gift. (or)
C: Move to Hamilton.

For 3 days only, you will have the unique opportunity to see, touch, smell (and buy!) decades of treasures collected in the name of art. One-part exhibition of performance materials and one-part studio sale. Come and browse the materials, objects, costume bits and other curiosities from Tanya Mars’ personal studio/storage locker. Everything is up for grabs at Toronto’s hottest performance art POP-UP shop, GOOD BUY!

Tanya Mars is a feminist performance artist who has been involved in the Canadian art scene since 1973, and has been collecting valuable stuff all that time, lugging it from Montreal to Toronto to Shelburne, Nova Scotia and back again to Toronto. Disguised as “art materials” some of these things have been used in performances over the years, other things are performances-in-waiting. 

She’s done a lot of things. Among them: Performances (solo and collaborative) in Canada, the Arctic, Europe, South America, China, Mexico and US; director/member of Powerhouse/La Centrale; Editor of Parallelogramme/ANNPAC (if anybody remembers what those things are); some videos; collective member of 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art; two books on Canadian Women Performance Artists with Johanna Householder; teaching performance at NSCAD and UTSC; parent, grandparent, Art Mom to many.

SHOP HOURS & EVENTS

Thursday, May 3
5:00pm–6:30pm: VIP Preview (by invitation only)
7:00pm: Doors open to the public & opening performance-lecture by Tanya Mars
7:30–9:30pm: shopping & refreshments, plus shop tours by official merchandiser, collaborator and Mars’ personal muse, Odette Oliver
ADMISSION: $5 / $2 for students and seniors

Friday, May 4
12:00pm–9:00pm: shop open
7:00pm: Performance by one of Mars’ long-time collaborators, playwright Paul Ledoux
ADMISSION: free

Saturday, May 5
12:00pm–6:00pm: shop open
ADMISSION: free

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