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.
Jess Dobkin has been a working artist, curator, community activist, mentor and teacher for more than 25 years, creating and producing intimate solo theatre performances, large-scale public happenings, socially engaged interventions and performance art workshops and lectures. Her practice extends across black boxes and white cubes, art fairs and subway stations, international festivals, and single bathroom stalls. She creates intimate solo theatre performances, large-scale public happenings, playful subversive interventions and engaging performance art workshops and lectures.
Her creative endeavours have received wide support and recognition, including repeated funding from the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art and the Astraea Foundation, and awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. Her work has toured North America, and has been presented at renowned avant-garde venues in New York, including P.S.122, The Kitchen, LaMama, Dixon Place, Judson Memorial Church, and the WOW Cafe. In Toronto, her work has been presented at the Rhubarb! Festival, SPIN Gallery, the Inside/Out Festival, the Hysteria Festival, and other venues. Jess is currently (2022) Curator of the Performing Archives stream of a multi-year SSHRC Partnership Grant entitled, Hemispheric Encounters: Developing Transborder Research-Creation Practices.
A Performance conversation with Jess Dobkin Featuring the DEMPSEY AND MILLAN TALIXMXN
In 2018–2019, Jess Dobkin received a Chalmers Art Fellowship in support of her current on-going research project looking at the performance art archive—her own personal archive and the archives of notable organizations and artists in the USA, UK, Mexico, Hong Kong and Canada.
Jess Dobkin approaches the archive as both site and material to investigate the lifespan and spirit life of performance art. Building on her ongoing research in international performance archives, she interrogates the relationship between live performance and documentation to explore the dynamic ways that performance can exist before and beyond the live event.
This performance conversation, Conjuring the Archive, will invite the audience to create a DEMPSEY AND MILLAN TALIXMXN, an energetic archive of the performances and projects of Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan. On July 22, 2019 a fire destroyed a warehouse in Winnipeg that housed the studios of more than two dozen artists. Shawna and Lorri lost 30 years of artwork, costumes, ephemera, books, equipment and materials. This TALIXMXN is an honouring of Shawna and Lorri’s archive and an offering of archival magic.
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
Photo Tanya 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?
Commitment Issues presents the work of five artists and one collective who use their bodies as primary source material to investigate qualities and dimensions of commitment – to ideas, to performance, to audience and to the artists themselves. Through play, risk, intimacy and sexuality, these artists transcend fixed social, psychological, physical and spiritual notions of commitment.
Further confounding the interplay of fixed notions of commitment, the venue for Commitment Issues is Oasis Aqualounge, home to Toronto’s preeminent swinger’s club. Performance sites will include the outdoor heated swimming pool, steam room, hot tub and locker room. Audiences are invited to stay late and enjoy all of Oasis Aqualounge’s amenities that also include a sauna, two bars and multiple lounges. Locker and towel service provided. Bring your bathing suit or birthday suit. Admission restricted to patrons 19+ years of age.
ARTISTS Cassils (Montréal/USA) MC Coble (USA/Sweden) Alicia Grant (Toronto) Dominic Johnson (UK) Dana Michel (Montréal) The Pole Club (Toronto)
Processing: Artist’ Panel & Reception Studio Theatre, Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, 4 Glen Morris Street November 17, 2011 @ 7:30pm
The panel is co-sponsored by the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama at the University of Toronto and the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto.
ARTISTS Tejpal S. Ajji Jess Dobkin Gyrl Grip Irene Loughlin
FADO presents four performance environments dealing with the sense of taste in this final ‘gustatotry’ component of the Five Holes series.
Taste is perhaps the most ‘personal’ of all the senses. It is both primal—providing the impulses that drive consumption—and individualized: one person’s desire is another’s poison. While the word ‘taste’ is often associated with the concept of aesthetic discernment, Matters of Taste places its emphasis on a specific, visceral definition of taste: the perception of flavour and texture that takes place inside our mouths.
This series explores the implications of a sense that operates through the placement of foreign material inside one’s body. Matters of Taste is not concerned with the familiar social terrain of banquets and dinner parties so much as the links between physical sensation, unconscious/conscious drives, and our mouths as a point of contact with the external world. How does one orchestrate a performance for another’s mouth? What are the dynamics that seduce, persuade or convince others to put things in their mouths? What are we or aren’t we willing to put in our mouths? What intentions are bound up in the impulse to stimulate one’s taste buds? What does our sense of taste reveal about our internal desires and external projections?
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?