Writing
From Ironic to Iconic: The Performance Works of Tanya Mars

From Ironic to Iconic: The Performance Works of Tanya Mars
Edited by Paul Couillard
Design by Sameer Farooq/New Ink
2009, 286 pp. (32-pp. colour section) with index
Includes DVD documentation of Mars’ performance Tyranny of Bliss

With articles by: Paul Couillard, Tagny Duff, Jennifer Fisher, Randy Gledhill, Nelson Henricks, Will Kwan, Paul Ledoux, Joanna Nash, Jennifer Oille, John Oughton and Pam Patterson, Andrew James Paterson, Kim Sawchuk, Dot Tuer

Tanya Mars has been a key figure in Canadian art since she burst on the scene in 1974 with her first groundbreaking exhibition, Codpieces Phallic Paraphernalia. Provocative and political, Mars has relentlessly shown us that the way to the jugular is through the funny bone, creating a series of compelling “three-dimensional pictures” that have made her one of Canada’s most acclaimed and important performance artists. This anthology offers a comprehensive look at her career, including a DVD with photo and video documentation of many of her major works.

“An innovative leader in the performance art scene here and internationally, Tanya Mars makes art that is courageous, humourous, operatic and original. Ironic to Iconic gives the reader a cogent and too little-known background to Mars’ career and her role in the development of performance art in Canada.”
~Jessica Bradley, curator and director of Jessica Bradley Art + Projects

To order a copy of this publication, please email info@performanceart.ca

Artist
Tanya Mars

USA / Canada
www.tanyamars.com

Tanya Mars is a feminist performance and video artist who has been involved in the Canadian art scene since 1973. She was a founding member and director of Powerhouse Gallery (La Centrale) in Montreal (the first women’s art gallery in Canada), editor of Parallelogramme magazine for 13 years, and very active in ANNPAC (the Association of National Non-Profit Artist-run Centres) for 15 years. She has also been an active member of other arts organizations since the early 70’s. Her work is often characterized as visually rich layers of spectacular, satirical feminist imagery. She has performed widely across Canada, in Valparaiso, Chile, Mexico City, Sweden, France and Helsinki. In 2004, Mars performed the 7-hour durational performance entitled The Tyranny of Bliss which involved over 30 performers who created 14 tableaux in and around Queen’s Park in Toronto.

She is co-editor with Johanna Householder of Caught in the Act: an anthology of performance art by Canadian women (2004), and More Caught in the Act (2016), both published by YYZ books and partners. She is also a member of the 7a*11d Collective (established in 1997) that produces a bi-annual International Festival of Performance Art in Toronto. She currently teaches performance art and video at the University of Toronto Scarborough and is part of the graduate faculty of the Master of Visual Studies Program at the University of Toronto.

In 2004, Mars was named Artist of the Year for the Untitled Arts Awards in Toronto. She is the recipient of a 2008 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and was an International Artist in Residence at La CitĂ© Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2006. In addition a book on her work published by FADO and edited by Paul Couillard, Ironic to Iconic: The Performance Works of Tanya Mars, was launched in 2008.

In the 70s and 80s Mars’ work focused on creating spectacular feminist imagery that placed women at the centre of the narrative.  Since the mid-90s her performances have included endurance, durational and site-specific strategies. Her work is political, satirical and humorous. She has worked both independently and collaboratively to create both large-scale as well as intimate performances. Her most recent body of work are a reflection on our complicity in the world of excess and consumption in the face of economic collapse.

Performance
GOOD BUY! by Tanya Mars

Toronto’s hottest performance art pop-up shop is GOOD BUY! by Tanya Mars

For 3-days only! Not to be missed! Rare opportunity! Something for everyone! Be the first to own an original Mars! Everything must go!

Q: What do performance artists do when faced with rising rents, rarefied availability, aging and too much stuff?
A: Go out of business! (or)
B: Downsize. Re-purpose. Re-gift. (or)
C: Move to Hamilton.

For 3 days only, you will have the unique opportunity to see, touch, smell (and buy!) decades of treasures collected in the name of art. One-part exhibition of performance materials and one-part studio sale. Come and browse the materials, objects, costume bits and other curiosities from Tanya Mars’ personal studio/storage locker. Everything is up for grabs at Toronto’s hottest performance art POP-UP shop, GOOD BUY!

Tanya Mars is a feminist performance artist who has been involved in the Canadian art scene since 1973, and has been collecting valuable stuff all that time, lugging it from Montreal to Toronto to Shelburne, Nova Scotia and back again to Toronto. Disguised as “art materials” some of these things have been used in performances over the years, other things are performances-in-waiting. 

She’s done a lot of things. Among them: Performances (solo and collaborative) in Canada, the Arctic, Europe, South America, China, Mexico and US; director/member of Powerhouse/La Centrale; Editor of Parallelogramme/ANNPAC (if anybody remembers what those things are); some videos; collective member of 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art; two books on Canadian Women Performance Artists with Johanna Householder; teaching performance at NSCAD and UTSC; parent, grandparent, Art Mom to many.


SHOP HOURS & EVENTS

Thursday, May 3
5:00pm–6:30pm: VIP Preview (by invitation only)
7:00pm: Doors open to the public & opening performance-lecture by Tanya Mars
7:30–9:30pm: shopping & refreshments, plus shop tours by official merchandiser, collaborator and Mars’ personal muse, Odette Oliver
ADMISSION: $5 / $2 for students and seniors

Friday, May 4
12:00pm–9:00pm: shop open
7:00pm: Performance by one of Mars’ long-time collaborators, playwright Paul Ledoux
ADMISSION: free

Saturday, May 5
12:00pm–6:00pm: shop open
ADMISSION: free

Performance
MONOMYTHS Stage 14

Presented by FADO Performance Art Centre, in association with The Theatre Centre

Stage 14: The Return Home
CRONE by Tanya Mars

CRONE, the latest durational performance by Tanya Mars looks at how superstition and myth intertwine. In keeping with her recent performance strategy, Mars will create an atmospheric work that combines visually rich layers of spectacular, satirical feminist imagery with light and sound. A revered matriarch of the Canadian performance art community, it is fitting that Mars offers the conclusion to the year-long epic MONOMYTHS journey, illuminating Stage 14: The Return Home.

MONOMYTHS invites a diverse collection of artists, scholars, and activists to revise Joseph Campbell’s conception of the hero’s journey through performance art, lectures, workshops, and other offerings. This new assemblage of non-linear un-narratives proposes a cultural, political and social feminist re-visioning of the world. The MONOMYTHS perception of the universal journey dispels the notion of the lone patriarchal figure on a conquest to vanquish his demons–both inner and outer–in consideration of community, collectivity, and collaboration.

Tanya Mars Publication Launch

From Iconic to Ironic: The Performance Works of Tanya Mars
Edited by Paul Couillard

Tanya Mars has been a key figure in Canadian art since she burst on the scene in 1974 with her first groundbreaking exhibition, Codpieces: Phallic Paraphernalia. Provocative and political, Mars has relentlessly shown us that the way to the jugular is through the funny bone, creating a series of compelling “three-dimensional pictures” that have made her one of Canada’s most acclaimed and important performance artists. This anthology offers a comprehensive look at her career, including a DVD with photo and video documentation of many of her major works.

“An innovative leader in the performance art scene here and internationally, Tanya Mars makes art that is courageous, humourous, operatic and original. Ironic to Iconic gives the reader a cogent and too little-known background to Mars’ career and her role in the development of performance art in Canada.”
~Jessica Bradley, curator and director of Jessica Bradley Art + Projects

Performance
Tyranny of Bliss by Tanya Mars

FADO is proud to present Tyranny of Bliss by Tanya Mars. This major new performance by one of Canada’s most renowned performance artists occupies 14 different sites of continuous activity over 7-hours across the city of Toronto, starting at from Queen’s Park Queen’s Park legislative building, and stretching along University Avenue to Queen Street West.

Inspired by a variety of sources ranging from the 14th Century frescoes of Ambrogio Lorenzetti on the Effects of Good and Bad Government to Fellini’s Satyricon, Tanya Mars constructs a modern day social satire with a cast of 30 performers. Tyranny of Bliss looks at the current human condition from both utopian and dystopian perspectives. The piece offers a richly layered, series of spectacular and incongruous images juxtaposed against the outdoor urban landscape.

Loosely based on the pageant structure of the medieval Miracle/Mystery plays, Tyranny of Bliss is a 7-hour performance that uses limousines in lieu of wagons. Beginning from the Queen’s Park legislature, two limousines – one white and one black – will usher small groups of audience members past 14 “tableaux” locations featuring images based on the 7 heavenly virtues and the 7 deadly sins. The scenes will also be accessible to passersby, allowing audiences to create their own narrative by walking from site to site. At each location a different scene will unfold continuously throughout the day, using the languages of dance, theatre, sculpture, visual art and literature.

Tyranny of Bliss promises a thrilling and provocative meditation on city life, providing a unique experience of Toronto not to be missed.


Performance Locations

GREED, LOVE, WISDOM: Queen’s Park grounds, north of the Legislature

COURAGE: travelling south on University Avenue, from Queen’s Park to Queen Street West

HOPE, SLOTH, ENVY: Queen’s Park Legislative grounds

LUST: University Avenue & Gerrard Street

GLUTTONY: University Avenue & Dundas Street West

TOLERANCE University Avenue & Armoury Street

WRATH: University Avenue & Queen Street West

JUSTICE: travelling north along University Avenue, from Queen Street West to Queen’s Park

TRUTH: City Hall Speaker’s Corner, 100 Queen Street West

PRIDE: Pages Books & Magazines, 256 Queen Street West

Performance
Hot by Tanya Mars

FADO continues its 12-month duration performance art series, TIME TIME TIME, with Toronto’s own Tanya Mars in a new performance entitled HOT.

Tanya Mars is well-known for performance works in which she creates spectacular images that function as living pictures. HOT is a sensitive look at middle age and the persistent desire for intimacy. In an elegant, slowly evolving tableau, Mars considers the search for unconditional love.

As always, humour, absurdity, and a dense overlay of visual metaphors are the essential building blocks of Mars’ complex vision. Forsaking the ‘hot’ sexuality of youth for the ‘hot’ flashes of menopause, Mars offers us the image of a bearded lady, setting thousands of household mousetraps with red cinnamon candy hearts as a video projection of a woman cuddling with a dog suggests where true companionship and uncomplicated bonding might be found. Irony, poignancy and even pragmatism play a role in this meditation on the lessons time has to offer aging baby boomers at the end of the millennium.

Mars notes: “It is ironic that just when a woman reaches intellectual maturity and is in her prime, her level of desirability as a mate plummets. HOT is not about sexuality, but about comfort, companionship and loyalty.”

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