PENTAGRAM ‚Äď revisit by Gustaf Broms

Meeting a memory through image, brings on many mixed emotions. To sit here in Sweden on a cold quiet winter night, hearing the street sounds, of Toronto 2013, echo amongst the trees, something uncanny, something exciting. The past, always a contrast? A world more innocent or a mind more naive?  What remain is the excitement of seeing the people passing by, making the work whole. We are fleshy mirrors making the work? This excites me…so on it goes.

Gustaf Broms

In Pentagram ‚Äď revisit, Broms returns to his epic 5-day durational performance, Pentagram, presented at FADO in 2013 in which Broms performed in public spaces in different locations in Toronto’s downtown core over the course of a typical work week‚ÄĒfive days, from nine in the morning to five in the early evening. Using the vast amount of photos (taken by FADO’s resident photographer, Henry Chan) and other documentation material, ten years later and in the Swedish forest where he lives, Broms digitally returns to the cityscape again in Pentagram ‚Äď revisit.

FADO‚Äôs REAL TO REEL series was screened as a complete program in Toronto on March 14, 2024. REAL TO REEL was made possible by funding from the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategies grant.

WATCH Pentagram ‚Äď revisit by Gustaf Broms below in the documentation gallery.


Gustaf Broms (Sweden)
Heather Rule (Canada)
Margaret Dragu (Canada)
MC Coble (USA/Sweden)
Simla Civelek (Canada)

Curated by Shannon Cochrane

As an immaterial practice, performance art‚Äôs relationship to documentation and the archive has always been a fraught one. On the one hand, documentation‚ÄĒand its circulation‚ÄĒis critical for an artist‚Äôs work to be discoverable to audiences and take its rightful place in the historical canon. On the other hand, as Anne Marsh writes in Performance Art and its Documentation: A Photo/Video Essay, ‚Äúthe camera‚Äôs viewfinder has no peripheral vision so it records a flattened reality… the time-based image becomes lifeless.‚ÄĚ As performative practices continue to gain popularity in galleries and museums (institutions that practice conservation) the complex relationship between ‘live’ art and its mediated image persist.

This series, Real to Reel, invites artists to activate and challenge the archive as a site for, and of, performance. The five participating artists in this series have created new digital works utilizing their own documentation from FADO’s archive collection as either the inspiration or the actual source material. The goal here is not necessarily to cut a new trailer (though reconstituting a self-history in this way is also the artist’s prerogative) rather, the hope is to upend the singular and linear lens that the archive itself implies. Here, we are not only looking back, we are moving forward at the same time, in only the way that performance artists working in the digital realm can.

The form of these new works are myriad: an experimental documentary about a 20-year old parade that happens (where else?) in a parade; a performance film made in the woods in winter using the images from a performance made in the city in spring; queer protest told through the lens of personal transformation; FADO’s own history as a container for performance history told by ceramic characters come to life through DIY animation and more.

In 2023, FADO celebrated 30 years of continuous performance artist activity in Canada, and this series is one part of our on-going love letter to performance. Real to Reel was made possible with thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategies project grant.

FADO’s REAL TO REEL series was screened as a complete program in Toronto on March 14, 2024. The individual videos are available to watch on the website (see each project link).

Gustaf Broms

© Gustaf Broms, Pentagram, 2013. Photo Henry Chan.

b. 1966, Sweden

Gustaf Broms is a Swedish visual artist working in performance, video and photography. His performance work has presented work across Europe, Asia and North America. His practice is engaged with the exploration of the nature of consciousness, the dualistic concept of “I,” as the biological reality of being in the BODY, and being MIND, as the perceived experience of the flow of phenomena. He is a co-founding member of REVOLVE Performance Festival in Uppsala. He was the subject of 2016 film, The Mystery of Life ‚Äď An Art Apart: Gustaf Broms by Carl Abrahamsson.

To use the time in this predicament as a way to explore the nature of consciousness. Trying to make a translation of the flow of life into a condensed symbol, as a tool for understanding. Spending the last few years looking into the dualistic concept of ‘i’, in terms of association with the idea of BEING NATURE, as the actual biological reality this body goes through, and BEING MIND as a very direct experience of REALITY. Since 2009 I live in the forest of Vendel and work on a series of ‘movements’ that explores why THE DANCING ATOMS OF THIS BODY are not merging with the dancing atoms surrounding it?

Gustaf Broms
9Questions, an artist project by Gustaf Broms

In 2014, Swedish performance and visual artist Gustaf Broms composed a list of nine questions that he started to circulate to fellow performance artists‚ÄĒmany he had a personal connection with and many more he had never even met. The questions covered a range of paired concepts‚ÄĒthe bricks and mortar of performance practice (material/object, audience/receiver, sound/silence, time/rhythm, space/emptiness)‚ÄĒand grounded by questions about personal experience, lineage and language.

The impulse to gather this collection arose from a conversation Broms had had with another artist; but what makes this volume first and foremost an artist’s project is that the questions are asked from the specific perspective of Broms’ deep personal understanding that, as a practice, performance resides at the permeable borders between the conscious and subconscious, and the meeting of the concrete world of form and the spiritual realm. For Broms, these are the essential questions. The responses collected are as diverse and wide-ranging as the artists and their own approaches, from the practical, to the abstract to the simply far-flung, in addition to some reassuring and surprising overlapping ideas and connections.

The roster of participants in 9Questions is an impressive array of international performance artists whose work covers a range of performance and performative multi-disciplinary approaches.

Adina Bar-On
Alastair MacLennan
Andrea Saemann
Antoni Karwowski
Artur Tajber
Barbara T. Smith
Bartolomé Ferrando
Boris Nieslony
Brian Connolly
Dorothea Rust
Elvira Santamaria-Torres
Esther Ferrer
Fausto Grossi
Guadalupe Neves
Guillermo G√≥mez-Pe√Īa
Gustaf Broms
He Yunchang
hermann nitsch
Irma Optimist
Jamie McMurry
Jill Orr
Johanna Householder
John Duncan
Kurt Johannessen
Leif Elggren
Linda Mary Montano
Macarena Perich Rosas
Margaret Dragu
Mariel Carranza
Marilyn Arsem
Martha Wilson
Monika G√ľnther & Ruedi Schill
Myriam Laplante
Nigel Rolfe
Nobuo Kubota
Paul Couillard
Pekka Kainulainen
Rocio Boliver
Roi Vaara
Ron Athey
Serge Olivier Fokoua
Shannon Cochrane
Tanya Mars
Tehching Hsieh
Tomas Ruller
Valentin Torrens
Zbigniew Warpechowski
Zhu Ming

9Questions, an artist project by Gustaf Broms

Published by FADO Performance Art Centre and Centre for Orgchaosmik Studies
Edited by Gustaf Broms and Shannon Cochrane
Translations by Paula Alvarado, Robert Rowley, Nicolas Scrutton, Tomasz Szrama, Jie Wang
Design: Lisa Kiss Design, Toronto

978-0-9730883-4-2 (FADO Performance Art Centre, Canada)
978-91-639-8460-0 (Centre for Orgchaosmik Studies, Sweden)

This publication project is partially supported by Stiftelsen Längmanska kulturfonden (Sweden).

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 (Montr√©al). 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.

Pentagram by Gustaf Broms

The complicated relationship 
HuMans and the surroundings
/ natural / human / species /
must be resolved on a psychological level, 
before any real change can take place ?
do I live with identity restricted to the borders of my skin ?
do I live with the understanding that this is a construct of mind ?
as the water and air flows through my body
is it at all possible to identify with this vessel ?
The work I am planning for Toronto is my first attempt to
explore the possibilities to aid this change,
using the language of the body as tool.

Gustaf Broms

FADO Performance Art Centre presents a new durational performance work, Pentagram, by Gustaf Broms. From September 23-27, Broms will perform a series of street actions in public spaces throughout Toronto’s downtown core, each day from 9:00am to 5:00pm, mimicking a “typical” work day.

Gustaf Brom’s artistic practice is engaged with the exploration of the nature of consciousness, the dualistic concept of “i”, and the biological reality of the body, in an effort to understand the ‘being mind’ as a direct experience of ‘reality.’ In his practice, he started off working photography and installation, but two work in particular led him to work with the more formless processes of performance. In 1991, Broms burned all of his work, and in doing so realized that the intensity of the action and the remaining ash far outdid anything he had previously made. In 2005, he completed a series of works entitled 5 Faiths for a Brave New World in which he worked with objects that were physically too heavy for the body to move. These two experiences created a longing to explore the formless and led up to the project entitled A Walking Piece made with Trish Littler, in which the two artists spent 18 months walking across Eastern Europe. The result is considered a drawing.

Currently, Broms continues to work with a series of movements that look at concepts of inner/outer and movement/stillness, working with his own body as the tool for examining these processes. The constant question for Broms is, “why are the dancing atoms of this body not merging wit the dancing atoms surrounding it?”

Monday, September 23: Union Station pedestrian path, 65 Front Street West
Tuesday, September 24: Toronto-Dominion Centre, 66 Wellington Street West
Wednesday, September 25: Bay Street, near the old Toronto Stock Exchange
Thursday, September 26: Bay Street, south of Wellington Street
Friday, September 27: Queen’s Park Crescent, south of Bloor Street West

© Gustaf Broms, Pentagram, 2013. Photo Henry Chan.

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