Open Airway curated by Elle McLaughlin

Cameron McKittrick
Erin Flyn
Fedora Romita
Jocelyne Tremblay
Leslie Wyber
Lisa Young Kutsukake
Natalyn Tremblay
Richard Windeyer
Shanker Bhardwaj
Zeesy Powers

Curatorial Statement by Elle McLaughlin

Open Airway is an investigation of rhythmic and organized patterns that ensure the successful function of systems. The project brings together and negotiates five unrelated performance pieces, all dealing with different systems.

This concept reflects my interest in the hidden systems functioning throughout us. I am fascinated with the complex interplay between vital functions that keep us alive and the transmission of internal signals operating and maintaining our systems despite various inconsistencies and anomalies. My own anomalous anatomical structure is defined by a rare inverted positioning of all internal organs, known as situs inversus or mirror image anatomy. The uniformity of their inverted placement ensures that all systems operate in a relatively efficient manner. However, a significant percentage of people with situs inversus are also diagnosed with primary ciliary dyskinesia. For respiratory functions to operate successfully, cilia must move in a rhythmic pattern to what is called the ciliary beat. Ciliary disorganization, detected only under a microscope, is manifested by a lack of adherence to this rhythmic, swaying, sweeping motion. This inadequacy ultimately leads to the breakdown of systems that regulate our most vital function: breathing. Systems are maintained through constancy, and are dependant on a degree of uniformity. The rhythmic manipulation of seemingly unrelated elements culminates in a larger accomplished entity. When individual units fail, it creates disturbances throughout the system and leads to its eventual collapse.

Open Airway addresses the role of co-operation in fostering continuity. Interconnected elements have the ability to stifle or flourish. Our accepted naiveté of complex systems that operate around and through us, seemingly running on their own, independent of will or thought or purpose is examined and re-interpreted in this performative petri dish. This project also considers the collaborative nature of performance art. Artists working in this form often depend on the assistance of others. Choreography, technical support and documentation are all functions assumed externally to ensure the artist achieves a connection with his or her audience and that the work remains accessible even after the event has passed. The response from those witnessing a performance may shift and alter the direction of a piece, as well as shaping and informing the artist.

In Open Airway, the artists are aware and vulnerable to shifts in each piece. Many perform simultaneously, while attempting to maintain a sense of balance and respect for what each group has to offer. Most of the performances are collaborative works, testing trust and encouraging empathy between the artists. The exceptions are the first and last pieces, which feature solo performances representing autonomy within a larger system. The interconnectivity that exists between artists engaged in divergent trajectories often culminates in a similar destination. The systems explored are diverse. All the performance pieces were conceived independently of each other. Yet they complement each other with varying multi-sensory approaches and degrees of physicality. Some rely on video projection to convey inner processes; others, silence and restraint.

In Forced Function, Fedora Romita joins Jocelyne and Natalyn Tremblay, who have already established familiarity with each other’s movements. Fedora’s presence helps to disturb the rhythmic tensions already established by the two siblings, while methodically surveying and measuring the space they construct.

Erin Flynn’s Sanctuary 101 incorporates algorithmic patterns into a combined choreographed and improvised exploration of perception. Hinging on interaction and analysis, her approach requires the coordination and integration of diverse systems of subconscious motivation.

Lisa Young Kutsukake and Shanker Bhardwaj employ the interrupted flow of communication as a symbol of natural and imposed systems which govern our ability to relate to one another. Obstruction in the vocal apparatus, resulting from an inability to articulate our confinement within societal constraints, inhibits the flow of conversation. Hesitation becomes a mode of coping with uncertainty.

The development of empathy is intrinsically linked to the negotiation of personal identity as is evidenced in Slice, a performance by the sound trio Finger. Cameron McKittrick, Richard Windeyer and Leslie Wyber function through rhythmic attunement to one another’s needs and wishes, monitoring their interaction and responses via projections and audio cues.

Zeesy Powers’ approach in Open Airway is a representation of the internal, and its reaction to external and sometimes contradictory systems. Zeesy’s work incorporates an awareness of the struggle to reconcile the multiplicity of our existence while maintaining order and balance.

SPIN’s large open space and its delineation of columns provides a grid structure. Within this grid, the artists have been arranged in symmetrical, geometric configurations, corresponding to the principles of balance and harmony. Rhythm and organization, the conceptual impetus for the event Open Airway’s structure adheres to numeric and spatial manipulation. Three of the five groups of artists have chosen to work behind screens, veils and a cell constructed of paper. Although these artists have the opportunity to work in a large, open and egalitarian space, they are aware of the need for compartment-alization. While this has the potential to hinder growth it is a necessary measure to ensure individual goals are realized.

The performance space tests the function of systems through collaboration, rhythm and organization. Under the microscope of the audience’s focused eye, the artists learn to cope and avoid system overload through steady negotiation. Opening and maintaining airways allow ease of breath. A rhythmic action, breathing is our most constant reminder of the need for maintaining and monitoring systems. Obstruction of airways impedes the natural flow of tension and exchange.

So please, take a nice, deep, dizzy breath, and enjoy.

Emerging Artists

Initiated in 2003 by Tanya Mars, FADO’s Emerging Artists series was created to provide a professional platform for emerging artists to develop and present a performance piece, working within a curatorial framework. FADO’s intention with this series was to nurture new work and ideas, provide direction and mentorship, and showcase the work of the city’s newest perspectives in performance art.

FADO’s Emerging Artists series was initiated in 2003 by Canada’s own performance art matriarch and educator Tanya Mars, who recognized that the best way to encourage young artists was by offering them a professional presentation 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 first event, curated by Mars, included ambient, conceptual and cabaret-style performance art gestures. This event later developed into FADO’s on-going Emerging Artists series which was 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, allowing FADO to encourage new curatorial voices in performance art, and introducing FADO to new communities of artists (and new artists to FADO). The series has continued to develop and change, later including the work of artists not just from Toronto, but regionally as well. This way, the series exposes local audiences to the range of performance work happening in the emerging performance scene across 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 FADO’s 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

In 2024 and 2025, the Emerging Artist series returns! Stay tuned for details.

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