NON GRATA, 2012. Photo Dean Goodwin.


NON GRATA is an international performance group from Estonia with a floating membership. In Non Grata there have been more than 300 members during the last 12 years from all over the world. The main characteristics is anonymity in group work, ignorance of the local art world and mass media. Group has performed in Asia, Europe, South and North America with street actions, chaotic space and context specific performances, and long lasting ghetto marathons.


Istvan Kantor presents an Internationally Controversial Performance Art Gala, featuring:
NON GRATA: Storm Generation
Performance Art Network Group from Estonia / New York

3:00pm: Empty parking lot, 163 Sterling Road
7:00pm: The Theatre Centre Pop-up, 1095 Queen Street West

Burning Iceberg Performance (Noise Band) with Wesley Rickert / Kathleen Reichelt
Solo performance by Jessica Karuhanga
Jubal Brown (A/VJ Mashup)

“Around the name NON GRATA there have been different hushes and shushes for a long time. Already from the point of view of death of conventionalization of art it has embodied the horrible and unwanted disembodiment of human person, from which the meaninglessness of nowadays art, is pouring out. For those, whose world of arts starts from the point, where the art world ends, NON GRATA has been a liberator, the orphic gap in the seemingly unalterable course, which however betrays us, it is a cure from incest. The main point of the group is ethical — it is the image of primitivism, impersonality and experimenting creativity. The performances of the group take place according to the logic of avoiding codes. The presentations are physical texts, whose ways of orthography and reading are kept within the limits of real actions by the group members. Aesthetical and provocative challenges are represented in places, where the Art World doesn’t work.”

NON GRATA, Art of the Invisible, Performances 2008-2011

Sponsored by FADO Performance Art Centre. Co-presented with SMASH (store & gallery). Technical support by 253569. Special thanks to the Theatre Centre and Castlepoint.

NON GRATA | SMASHING!!! Hard Hitting Fists!!!
Photo credit: Dean Goodwin

SMASHING!!!! was a two part event created by Toronto based media and performance artist Istvan Kantor who brought the internationally renowned group Non Grata from Estonia via New York to Canada to perform in Toronto (they performed in Montréal in 2006).

Istvan Kantor aka Monty Cantsin Amen, a member of the Non Grata nomad-network group, collaborated in leading the car smash that took place at 3pm in the empty lot beside Kantor’s studio on Sterling Road. Dirt and sand in small tornadoes flew around the car as people arrived. Improvised audio was beaten out against the chilling desert atmosphere by Istvan. The audience came ready to participate in the final killing of the bright red vehicule condemned to be smashed.

Taje, Non Grata’s founder member with Al Paldrok, started on the roof in bare legs, bare feet, a burning torch and fire starter. She was the anarchist statue of liberty, a symbol for a generation of artists living in an era of global warming, in a city where cyclists are run down by vehicles regularly, in a part of the world where artists have been confronting the car in their work for the past two decades. The car is a highly charged symbol to attack. It was sprayed and smashed with axes, sledge hammers, sticks, flipped over and punctured. I took an axe and chopped away at the trunk. Throwing the axe to the ground for the next person to pick up, I stumbled away feeling that I had just jumped out of a cold lake.

Later in Istvan’s studio I said to Paldrok “That was fun.” “Fun has nothing to do with it!” he demanded, smiling behind his grizzly adam’s beard “It’s all about scratching the surface as strong and as deep as possible!”. I agreed with him, “that’s right, fun has nothing to do with it.”

The Theatre Centre Pop Up space starts to fill around 8pm. A different audience arrived with an expectation for a performance that stretches beyond the parameters of what is safe. The Non Grata performance group has a reputation for making such experiences and the participating Toronto artists responded to this anticipation with high energy.

Two very intense and confronting short videos by Istvan Kantor were followed by Jessica Patricia Kichoncho Karuhanga’s solo piece. Performing with three cd players, Jessica physically moved between three different songs playing simultaneously, spontaneously stopping to bang her head against the wall. The sound was received by a contact microphone, looped and amplified, creating genuine head banging audio.

253469 core members Wesley Rickert and Kathleen Reichelt performed for the first time as Burning Iceberg. A video made specific for the event was projected and the artists performed a 30 minute audio piece, an epic-sermon, based in concepts of performance art, poetry, raw noise and the inability to repeat any experience. Wesley’s hard core guitar beat-noise and Kathleen’s hits on the keyboard and on an accordeon characterized the duo’s skeleton-music style.

Non Grata delivered an intensely unnerving experience. The audience did not know how far the performers were going to go as the cast iron brand heated up in the fire at the centre of the audience. A Non Grata member, Amber Lee from Chicago, who traveled with Taja and Al from New York to Toronto for this occasion, was branded with an “S” shape and the smell of burning flesh filled the space. Marked with the moment of experience, recording the event on her body, the audience witnessed a mark of living permanence.

Istvan Kantor made a fist and smashed it for an intimate and unforgettable experience.

Photo credit: Dean Goodwin
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Top Notes

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Middle Notes

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Base Notes

hyacinth, blue cypress