Toronto: Commitment Issues

Commitment Issues  – Curated by Jess Dobkin takes place November 16 + 17, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. The event presents an selection of works by international performance artists and in addition to the evening of performance art, the artists and curator speak about the work and the event in a panel discussion after the event.

Commitment Issues: An Evening of Performance Art
Wednesday November 16, 7-10 pm
Oasis Aqualounge
231 Mutual Street, Toronto, Canada
$15 admission – $12 students/seniors/underemployed

Processing: Artists’ Panel & Reception
Thursday November 17, 7:30-9:30 pm
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, U of T
79A St. George Street, Toronto
FREE / open to all 

Jess Dobkin Invites You to Join Her:
“Welcome to Commitment Issues, an evening of performance art at Oasis Aqualounge, where site-specific performances take place in an outdoor heated swimming pool, steam room, hot tub and locker room. Come for the performances and then stay late to enjoy the Aqualounge’s amenities, which also include a sauna, two licensed bars, and multiple lounges. Secure lockers and towel service are provided.
Commitment Issues presents the work of five artists who use their bodies as the primary source material for investigating qualities and dimensions of commitment—to ideas, to performance, to audience, and to themselves. Through play, risk, ritual, and sexuality, these artists transcend fixed social, psychological, physical, and spiritual notions of commitment. Here, commitment is positioned as a subject and a substance that artists can stretch and subvert in the creation of their work, altering terminology, definition, and association. With this in mind, the artists have written their own personal definitions of “commitment,” indirectly offering a key to understanding their work (see reverse).
You are also invited to Processing, a panel discussion in which the artists and the audience gather to celebrate, pose questions, and share responses to the works presented in Commitment Issues. Commitment is an exceptional word, often used in varying and oppositional contexts, laden with social value and judgment. It can stand as an expression of agency and autonomy, as an exercise of one’s will, or else as a state of consignment or confinement wherein liberty is denied. We might commit to a relationship or to winning the big game, but we can also be committed to prison or a mental institution. In its active state, commitment is a learned practice, not an emotion or fixed state of
being. It is an engagement and a process; something that requires us to be both in the present moment and to think about the future. What does commitment mean to artists and how does it manifest in their work? For a performance artist, what is the connection between commitment and the physical/spiritual body?”

The Featured Artists:
Dana Michel, Alecia Grant, Dominic Johnson, the Pole Club and queer artists Mary Coble and Heather Cassils.

MARY COBLE is renown for using her performance, video, and installation to challenges herself and others to critically consider their reactions and interactions with social issues of injustice. Jess Dobkin writes about Mary Coble’s new performance for Commitment Issues that in this work Mary is “bound by a course of action, a commitment to see something through. Her work asks: How does one commit to something that is unknown, untested? Is commitment a guarantee or merely a promise? For Fighting Cocks, Mary has recruited a second performer, a near stranger, who partners and parallels her as they engage together and simultaneously reflect an internal dialogue.The power of commitment is the power to embrace the unknown”.

Mary Coble About FIGHTING COCKS:

1 full engagement mentally and physically in a praxis of investigation that is felt to be personally and socially urgent.
2 the introduction of the potential for a “sincere” experience for both the artist and viewer.
3 the insertion of queer questioning regarding power, privilege, categorization and normalization a example: <queer masculinity> No exact results found for “queer masculinity”. Did you mean: “questionable, tomboy, kinky, feminine, unsettled, sissy, emasculated, counterfeit, androgynous, weirdo, effeminate, aberrant, boyish, unmanly, abnormal, gay, weakened, trans, abnormal, butch, fabricated, freaky, womanly, fake, impotent, suspicious, irregular?”

FIGHTING COCKS by Mary Coble, performed with D. Eli Campanaro, takes place in a Locker Room on 2nd Floor at Oasis Aqualounge in Toronto, Canada.

Jess Dobkin’s description of Heather Cassils’ performance reads “In Teresias, HEATHER CASSILS consciously pushes the limits of her body with the knowledge that her boundaries are fixed so that she can explore their furthest edges. We see the performance as extreme, but like an athlete, she is regimented and precise. It is an exploration of the artist’s mental and physical parameters with a politic in mind. Through a tough dare, she speaks to issues of social power and control, but also to the artist’s own power and control of her physical body, her physique and transgender expression. There is an element of queerness in (her) performances, not in regards to sexual identity, but in their unconventional and politicized notions of commitment; to social engagement, to collaboration, and to expression. It recalls a legacy of queer culture based not in heteronormative values, but rather in community; imagined, sought, and nurtured.”

Heather Cassils’ Teresias takes place in the steam room at Oasis Aqualounge. Further details about the programme and the other artists are available at the Fado Performance Art Centre’s website.

About Curator and Performance Artist Jess Dobkin
Jess Dobkin is an out and proud queer artist based in Toronto, Canada. Her performances, artist’s talks and workshops are presented internationally at museums, galleries, theatres and in public spaces. She lectures and perform art workshops in Canada, USA and Europe.

Related Link
Jess Dobkin’s website
Jess Dobkin’s Artist Statement at Feminine Moment: Jess Dobkin – A Loud & Proud Performance Artist

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