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From the Vault: Performances in Various Times

Date and time
Wednesday, April 22, 2020

From the Vault: Performances in Various Times

The PHI Foundation presents a selection of its favourite perfomances from its archives.

Selection by Victoria Carrasco, PHI Foundation Gallery Management and Adjunct Curator – Public Programs.

As a team member at the PHI Foundation, I have been able to work closely with artists as the main coordinator for special projects, performances and other public events. Through these opportunities, I have also been able to develop relationships and some of my best friendships. At the Foundation, when possible, we document these events for posterity, so that a future public might have the chance to reference them, but the experience of the visitor—live, and through collective memory—gives a whole other reading to these performances and events than the ones intended by visual documentation or even by the artists. Documentation is not only constituted by the images and recordings of the institution, but includes the ones left by the public, the memories and anecdotes, shared either through social media, comments or even through oral recounting to their friends, and these are very valuable to us. Here are the events that changed something for me, in my path and experience at the Foundation.

Affinities – Joan Jonas with Jason Moran in collaboration with Concordia University
May 27, 2016
In 2016, we worked with curator Barbara Clausen on the Joan Jonas exhibition: From Away. As part of the exhibition program, Clausen also curated an event series called Affinities: a series of performances, screenings, and conversations which featured many artists such as Simone Forti, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Joan Jonas, and many others. We had the chance to present a performance between Joan Jonas and her long-time collaborator and friend Jason Moran. Their chemistry is and was unbelievable, Moran’s musical sensitivity and Jonas’s actions were unforgettable and a magical match. It is always an honour to collaborate with artists that continually push to make a mark, and to work with Joan, Jason and Barbara was a truly nurturing experience.  

Jasmina Cibic: An Atmosphere of Joyful Contemplation
October 2018
We worked closely with Jasmina Cibic on the realization of performances that were part of her exhibition Everything That You Desire and Nothing That You Fear. Part of the performative dimension of Cibic’s exhibition, An Atmosphere of Joyful Contemplation required a tremendous amount of planning for it to be presented to a public: finding the right type of singers, conducting numerous rehearsals, coordinating costume fittings, hiring makeup artists, all on a recurring basis. The performances took place in the exhibition spaces, and everything was coordinated in advance to be repeated through the length of the exhibition. It is a rewarding challenge to be able to execute the vision of the artist, the way the piece is intended, and once we get it right, it feels like a great achievement. It is also a challenge to dialogue with other elements within the exhibition spaces, as the performances and their live quality contrasts with inanimate and fixed objects. Jasmina Cibic is an artist who never stops and has a never ending energy, and it was amazing to work with her.

Discwoman Amplify Each Other: DJ Haram at DHC/ART
August 30, 2018
Inspired by Bharti Kher’s muscular artworks, we collaborated with Discwoman on my first programmed event at the Foundation. Discwoman is a New York-based collective, booking agency, and event platform representing and showcasing cis women, trans women, and gender queer talent in the electronic music community. DJ Haram performed a live composition that drew from a range of electronic music forms and artworks on display within the exhibition such as Kher’s Virus IX and Cloudwalker. We welcomed DJ Haram to perform within the exhibition spaces, which resulted in a cross between a DJ set and a sound performance. This made for a truly lasting impression on the ones who were there, and it was a very special set. I later recognized the beats that came out later in 2019 on her album Grace. DJ Haram returned to Montréal as part of the programming for Slut Island last year, and we had the chance to meet again.

And there are many more highlights, from the running of a club for Bring Down The Walls as part of Phil Collins’s exhibition, as well as performances with professional opera singers in Sonic Blossom by Lee Mingwei, presented as part of the exhibition L’OFFRE. All of these projects require a certain presentation and mediation as well as a fusion with the artist's thought process in order for these to really happen the way they would envision it. As we know, performances take place and then they disappear and there is little that can really keep them alive, besides our memory. After each event, images and videos pop up on social media, and sometimes, these images have become a personal reference of the ambiance and feel of the event. Here is my favourite unofficial documentation from other programming activities at the Foundation: 

Ed Atkins: I (can scarcely move or draw my breath)
November 19, 2017
I (can scarcely move or draw my breath) was Ed Atkins’s attempt at an adequate recitation of American novelist and poet Gilbert Sorrentino’s short poem from 1971, The Morning Roundup. This performance is very special and I don’t want to reveal too much of it; it really needs to be experienced. The event was not documented, but this little snippet shot by Lisa Graves, one of our event photographers, captures the ambiance of the performance.

Photos:

Lee Mingwei, Sonic Blossom, 2013-ongoing. Courtesy of DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art. Photo: Marc-Olivier Bécotte.

DJ Haram performance, 2018. Courtesy of DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art. Photo: Marc-Olivier Bécotte.

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