Artist
W. A. Davison

b.1962, Canada
www.recordism.com

William A. Davison is a Canadian multi-disciplinary artist born in Nova Scotia, and based in Toronto since 1989. He has been producing art for almost 40 years, working in visual art, film and video, performance art, music/sound, writing/poetry, networking, artistic collaboration, organizing/curating, and publishing. As a reaction to the cultural isolation and conservatism he experienced growing up in Nova Scotia, Davison sought out anything strange, nonconforming and subversive. His art and ideas developed under the influence of science fiction, the occult, underground and avant-garde comics, psychedelia, Dada and Surrealism, punk, post-punk, and industrial music culture.

In 1984 he founded Recordism, his own idiosyncratic take on Surrealism. His prolific and eclectic artistic output derives from an uncompromising experimental approach and a commitment to the punk D.I.Y. ethos. Davison’s dedication to enlivening his local scene has gone hand in hand with an international reach via appearances at major festivals, exhibitions, and events, as well as through numerous publications and audio releases. W.A.Davison was a recipient of an Acker Award in 2018.

Series
Performance Resolution(s)

Resolution:
a firm decision to do or not to do something.
the quality of being determined or resolute.
the action of solving a problem.
the process of reducing or separately something into its components.
the smallest interval measurable by an optical instrument.
the conversion of something abstract into another form.

ARTISTS
Cindy Baker
David Bateman
Kate Barry
lo bil
Kiera Boult
Alexis Bulman
Ulyssess Castellanos
Chipo Chipaziwa
Keith Cole & Jeanne Randolph
W. A. Davison
Emily DiCarlo
Claudia Edwards
Vanessa Dion Fletcher
Serge Olivier Fokoua
Marie-Claude Gendron
Moynan King
Hélène Lefebvre
Tess Martens & Holly Timpener
Roy Mitchell
Laura Paolini
Diana Lopez Soto
Jordyn Stewart
Clayton Windatt

Performance Resolution(s) is FADO’s 2021/2022 at-home residency series. Participating artists were chosen from a Canada-wide open call for submissions inviting artists to propose performance-based research projects that engaged with the theme of ‘resolution.’



It goes without saying that 2020 changed everything. The world is now a very different place than before. (We resolve never to say, “it goes without saying” again.) For artists working in live art and performance, events were cancelled and festivals postponed. What happens to embodied practice when the bodies can’t be together irl? With dizzying speed, we were compelled to bring performance to the tiny back-lit screen as an alternative. Sometimes that worked. Without being able to gather in large groups, sometimes we leaned on old tricks (what performance artist doesn’t know what it’s like to perform in a half-empty theatre?) to shoehorn our work into the current context. More often than not, to keep moving, we stuck with the script—over producing and addicted to presentation.



But thankfully the new year brings with it fresh starts, new directions and an opportunity to reflect. We make promises in the form of new year’s resolutions—a private or public personal commitment to change. Most resolutions dissolve by the end of March, or sooner. If 2020 taught us anything, it taught us that transformation comes slowly. The real breakthroughs are still in the (social) distance, but a seed has been planted.

Our inspirations for Performance Resolution(s) are the hope for a better 2021 for all, and a profound performance exercise designed by Marilyn Arsem that we think about from time to time. Read Marilyn’s exercise below.

Some of the projects in this at-home residency series will have tangible outcomes; many will not. The point was not to find to way to support artists through replicating old ways of doing things by keeping the hamster wheel of production going. Instead, we encourage a slowing down and a deep dive into what it means to have resolve, even if you don’t have the answer. 

Watch this space for updates on various projects and research contributions as they reveal themselves over the 2021–2022 programming year.

Performance
Re-Solutions by W. A. Davison

RE-SOLUTIONS is a collection of 6 performances for video by W. A. Davison, created in the context of FADO Performance Art Centre’s Performance Resolution(s) at-home residency in 2021.

These six informal performance experiments re-interpret the theme “resolutions” as “re-solutions,” meaning, new solutions to problems that have already been solved.

Over the past few years, I’ve been engaged in a number of creative projects that involve exploring, and making use of, material from my archive of past work—finished pieces, documentation, sketches, ideas, etc., accumulated over several decades of artistic activity. The idea of finding new solutions to problems I’ve already solved, i.e. finding new ways to approach, develop, and execute creative problems and premises from my past, is an intriguing concept and ties in nicely with my recent archive-based work.

Working alone in my studio, I conducted a series of performance experiments which were documented on digital video. In these experiments, I examined a selection of finished works from my archive—visual art, writing, film and video, audio, past performances, etc.—determining the basic premise/problem in each one, and then, through an informal, organic, and intuitive process, found new ways in which those problems might be solved. Since the residency is focused on performance practice, these “re-solutions” took the form of performative actions/events/situations. I was particularly interested in what happens when I attempt to translate ideas from other media (drawings, collages, films, audio pieces, etc.) into performance. This was challenging at times but, almost without fail, led to interesting work. The project was process-oriented so I was not necessarily looking to create new performances for an audience. These are, literally, experiments, most geared toward helping me gain insight into my past work, as well as find new and interesting directions for future work. 

Is a work of art ever “finished” or an idea used up? “Re-Solutions” helps answer that question.


THE RE-SOLUTIONS

Dead Horse Dérive (07:10, video slideshow, 2021) is based on a multimedia drawing/painting from 2009 called Wasteland 2. I took one of the main elements of the painting, a dead horse, and traced the contours of it. I then superimposed this simplified contour drawing over a map of downtown Toronto. Finally, on the afternoon of July 10, 2021, I made a dérive (a type of psychogeographic exploration of the urban environment) on bicycle, following as closely as possible the route indicated by the drawing on the altered map. I documented the dérive by photographing streets, intersections, laneways, and whatever caught my eye during the bicycle trip. The final form of the piece is a video slideshow. 

Floating Orb (08:09, video performance, 2021) is based on an untitled collage from 2016. The collage features a spherical object floating in front of a desert landscape. For my “re-solution” I came up with a simple action involving a ball being tossed (from off camera) in front of a number of photographs that were taped to the wall of my studio.

Eye Projections (01:34, video performance, 2021) is based on an untitled sculptural assemblage from 2016. For this “re-solution” I took one of the main features of the assemblage, namely the cloth projecting from the doll’s eye sockets, and interpreted that as a performative action for the camera

Red Branches (02:01, video performance, 2021) is based on a series of sound/radio art pieces from 2020 called RE/CYCLING. In the RE/CYCLING series, I constructed a number of textured platters that were placed on a record player and amplified with a contact microphone. My “re-solution” was to make myself the revolving, textured surface, brushing against amplified tree branches.

R.P.M. Redux (01:23, video performance, 2021) is based on a super-8 film called R.P.M. that I made in 1991, in which I put a super-8 camera on a record player, and filmed while it spun around. For this “re-solution” I did exactly the same thing, this time with a video camcorder, the difference being my presence in the film/performance. I sat next to the record player and appear once every revolution.

Object Poems (11:25, video performance, 2021) is not based on a specific work. Instead, I chose to base the work on one of the techniques I use frequently in my poetic writing, namely stream-of-consciousness or surrealist automatism. The technique involves an unedited flow of words, free from rational control. In my “re-solution” I substituted found objects from around my studio for words in a poem, constructing an improvised, visual poem by juxtaposing objects next to each other or otherwise interacting with them.

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