14h -samedi, 31 octobre 2015 


372, rue Ste-Catherine Ouest
Espace 403
Montréal (Québec) H3B 1A2
(514) 874-9423

Puis, jusqu’à 17 h, les artistes Sandra Lachance et karen elaine spencer seront présentes pour discuter avec vous,
on vous attend !

Performance et rencontres

a portrait between two : while the performer performs the writer watches and writes

writer : karen elaine spencer
performer : adriana disman
title : dying continually (part of intimacy with fear)
date : march 28 2015
duration : 6 hours
location : rats9

adriana : bare feet. black knee-length skirt. black and white striped shirt. black hair cropped neck length.

performance space : thin slats of hardwood flooring, scratched, stained. white walls lit with ten spots, five spots on one wall, five on the other. floor length black curtain separating performance space from studios in back. brown wooden chair with paint stains in the centre of the performance space. metronome.

adriana : “o.k. i think i’m just gonna start.”
places metronome on floor in centre of room
starts metronome
 walks to chair 
 sits on chair
feet on floor, hands on lap
closes eyes

to download the text click on this link : adriana4final_2015

to read more about adriana disman’s project at dare-dare click on this link : http://www.dare-dare.org/fr/evenements/adriana-disman_intimes-avec-la-peur


title : les langues aux doigts/tongues into fingers
year : 1997
material : barbed wire, silk thread, white glue, ribbon
size : to fit the hand

performed at: centre de diffusion à l’université du québec à montréal
sculpture photo by : paul litherland
performance photo by : teofil valeriu ghetiu

title : barbed (burgundy)
year : 1996
material : barbed wire, silk thread, white glue, ribbon, needles
size : to fit the body

photo by : paul litherland

title : barbed (cream)
year : 1996
material : barbed wire, silk thread, white glue, ribbon
size : to fit the body
photo by : paul litherland


title : cocoon (1 & 2)
year : 1996
material : barbed wire, silk thread, white glue
size : to cover the body
photos by : paul litherland


photo courtesy of : dare-dare

a project initiated by folie/culture (http://folieculture.org/) in association with dare-dare (http://www.dare-dare.org/fr) where adam bergeron and i were held captive inside these two glass fish tanks in seriously hot weather. the purpose? no; not sensitivity training on what it is like to live in an aquarium, but rather to blog about being alienated while experiencing alienation. however, we were very much NOT alienated from the weather conditions, but probably would have preferred to have been lol.

to check out the blog click on the link here! yeah, right here!!: http://folieculture.org/blog_spencer/


sittin’ for 7a*11d, 2010

October 27, 2010

title: sittin’

year: 2010

location: union station, toronto, ontario, canada

duration: 9 days from 9am – 5pm

supported by: 7a*11d international festival of performance art

press: steel bananas










i am wondering what it means, what it asks of us to locate the body between the active and the utterly passive, between standing and lying down? i am wondering what it means to sit in a public space as a deliberately repeating presence.
a presence marked as female.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
thursday, october 21, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.

upon entering union station from front street you will see a row of red seats. these seats are for the ‘red caps’, and they won’t like it if you sit there.

friday, october 22, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.

at the top of the stairs leading to the main mall of union station there is a sign. the sign says: “see something suspicious? say something! call union station security…”

saturday, october 23, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.

union station was part of the great nation building unity project, i.e. capitalism. now the station is part of the transportation system, this never-ending movement of bodies and goods, i.e. capitalism. i just wanna know, when do we get to stop?

sunday, october 24, 2010 – union station 10 am – 5 pm.

every morning i take myself to a place of transit. here i sit, mostly; but i also stand up, walk around, go to the washroom, eat and drink. i do not read or write, text or call, photograph or videotape. nor do i capture sound. at the end of the day i walk back to my hotel and write my sentences for paul to upload onto this site.

tuesday, october 26, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.

this morning one of the ‘red caps’ walked over to where i was sitting, stuck out his hand, and said, “hi, i’m dan.” i took his hand, smiled, and said, “hi, i’m karen.”

wednesday, october 27, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.

when in the great hall turn west and look up at the arched window between the interior and exterior panes of glass. you may see a ghost-like silhouette of a person walking from one side to the other.

thursday, october 28, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.

the impulse is to share, but i withhold. certain things can be destroyed through their transmission, so today i withhold from sharing and fold into that place of protection my already articulated and re-membered recollection.

friday, october 29, 2010 – union station 9 am – 5 pm.

if you come to see me but cannot find me, does this mean you missed my performance? this is not my question. if you come to see me but cannot locate me, my question is, “what does this produce?”

saturday, october 30, 2010 – union station 10 am – 6 pm.

he asked me what i was doing here. i replied, “working.” i then contextualized this by saying i was doing research, embodied research, researching what it was to be a stationary presence within a place of transit. he accepted my explanation saying if there was anything i needed, they were always here.

7a*11d blogspot

As her performance project for 7a*11d, Karen Elaine Spencer has chosen to spend eight hours a day in a single location throughout the festival – not quite a squatter, but a sitter, inflecting her presence as observer and (un)observed. After spending a day walking the streets of Toronto, Spencer has chosen her point of arrival, Union Station, as the location for this inhabitation. At the end of each day she will post her reflection on the day’s experience on the 7a*11d website, distilled to a single sentence.





photos: henry chan

natalie loveless, festival blogger posts:

Natalie Loveless is an artist, teacher and writer. She recently completed a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz, on transdiciplinarity and its implications for new models of pedagogy and socially engaged art practices. She is a visiting assistant professor in the Visual Arts Department of the University of Western Ontario and is on the editorial board of >> liminal << the journal of new performance. Natalie’s blog posts are marked ‘(NL)’.

Thursday, October 21, 2010
Karen Elaine Spencer: Thursday October 21, 2010 / Day One (NL)

It is 2pm and I am wandering through Union Station to find Karen Elaine Spencer, who is performing a durational piece called Sittin’. Over the course of the festival she will sit from nine to five each day in the same spot at Toronto’s Union Station. I wonder about the choice to sit, for a full day, in the same place. If it were me, where would I sit? What kind of place? A designated seat? A corner of a stairwell? In the middle of a throughway? It takes me a while to find her – she is literally in the last place I look, and I find her right before being ready to give up.

Spencer is sitting, nondescript, in a corner, five chairs in front of the Front Street entrance. She sits in her hoodie and drab old sweater staring into space. As I approach she greets me and I ask how the day has been. No one has bothered her yet. She has taken food and pee breaks, always returning to the same seat. I ask if I can observe for a little while, and step back to decide where to sit. Sitting in front of her and watching seems, somehow, wrong. Though designated performance, this action doesn’t want attention. Her body posture invites the eye to move on: arms gently crossed over bag, slightly slumped, and eyes staring into the distance, first left, then right, as if waiting. I am reminded of Faith Wilding’s poem and performance “Waiting” and decide to sit with her for a while, to try and get inside the performance for a bit.

In front of us are three advertisements. I wonder how much time she has spent staring at them. I find myself fixating on the people passing by. How they walk. The middle aged man slumped at an unnatural angle under a duffel bag; the aging couple shuffling towards the coffee shack. The workers. The crinkle of a donut bag being crumpled and thrown away. Everything is suddenly worthy of attention as I contemplate the task of sitting here from nine to five. Nine to five: a full day’s work. The temporality of industrialized labour. The train-station as site. My back begins to hurt and my eyes move to the roof. The architecture. The signage with departure times and destinations. I expect that all of this has, over the course of the day, moved towards a kind of local, inhabited knowledge for Spencer. I wonder about the patterns, temporal rhythms, and textures of existence she must be experiencing as time stretches and slows over the duration of the performance.

For me, it’s only been 46 minutes and 12 seconds. For her, it will be 480 today, 4,800 over the course of the festival.

I leave her sitting.

Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 1:29 PM

Anonymous said…

An illustration of the Foucault idea that the production of the working body is the main effect of modernized,
alienated work? Thematizing the
rigorous discipline, endurance, and physical
effort that is required to simply remain present at a
workplace from the beginning of the working day
to its end?
October 22, 2010 3:17 PM

Friday, October 22, 2010
Karen Elaine Spencer: Sittin’, Union Station, Friday October 22, 2010 / Day Two (NL)

This time I approach from the other side and spot Spencer, sitting, eyes closed, hoodie partially hiding her from the world. She is sitting in the same set of chairs as yesterday. I skirt around silently to take a seat a little way down from her and watch. She opens her eyes, sips a drink through a straw, and looks off into the distance. Today she has no backpack, just a little paper bag tucked up beside her.

She notices me and smiles. I approach and ask how today has been. Busy, she says. Lots of foot traffic. The guards have begun to notice her but no one has yet talked to her or asked her to move along. She tells me that today has been more internal than yesterday – instead of watching so much she has been listening. She suggests that I close my eyes and just listen. I do. A deep hum. Low bass. A drone. A slightly higher rumble with a slight whine. Someone is talking on a phone loudly at my right. It irritates me to no end, wanting to just drift into the ambient sound. But I am learning a lot about his wife. His job as an insurance agent. His son Michael. Eventually I manage to tune him out and move back to the hum. The rumble of the trains. The little buzz of suitcase wheels. The clop of footsteps. All the sounds are predictable but somehow it is just delicious to sit here for a bit, listening. It is like listening to the world through a railway-station shaped conch shell.

I open my eyes to a little child running around. I see a wall of workers in front of me. I look at them intently and wait to see if they will notice me, return the look. They don’t. I glance at all the elements that attracted me yesterday – the architecture, the signage, the advertisements. I stare at the marble floor and, after a while it is transformed into a lovely detailed drawing – each crack a gesture speaking to time, weight, stress, history. The stone walls, too, emerge as paintings with delicately rendered all over patterning. I take a deep breath, glance back over at Spencer, and return to the sounds of the space. Beautiful. Dramatic. Symphonic. Today I experience sitting with Karen Spencer as a gift of music. With gratitude I return to her and leave her to the hardness of the seat, the expressiveness of the space, and the onslaught of passing people.

Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 1:25 PM

Sunday, October 24, 2010
Karen Elaine Spencer: Sittin’, Union Station, Sunday October 24, 2010 / Day Four (NL)

We are less than halfway through Spencer’s ten-day performance action: sitting for eight hours a day on a set of benches near the Front street entrance of Toronto’s Union Station. I approach the performance site half expecting not to see her. Expecting that at this point she might foil expectations, change the rules of the piece and sit somewhere else. But no, she is still there. And this makes sense, as one of the things that Spencer is curious about is how long she can “loiter” in one site before someone – anyone – asks her what she is doing there.

I approach her, ask how her day has been – it’s now four, the workday is almost done – and about yesterday. It was great! she says. A couple people came to see me after reading the blog and sat there watching me for an hour before introducing themselves. I had no idea I was being watched. I sit down with Karen again and think about this. I look around. Could I mistake anyone for a surreptitious observer? There’s one young man, maybe twenty years old, texting and glancing up now and then. He could easily be an art school student. I look off into space, sitting, and imagine him watching me. A wedding party enters. A woman with a limp passes by. A Muslim woman struggles by with a baby carriage and too many suitcases. Someone catches my eye and then looks over at Karen. Is he here for the performance? No, his eyes move on and land on his travel partner and they move off.

If day one, for me, was about sight, and day two was about sound, today what I notice most is the cold. These seats are directly in front of some vents and after only twenty minutes I am chilled to the bone. The other thing I notice is a kind of anxiety linked to boredom, both actual and prospective. I am not actually bored, but the moment I stop and just sit, contemplating eight hours a day every day, I begin to feel the oh god what have I gotten myself into and how and I going to do this that I often feel at some point near the beginning of my own durational pieces. It’s a sensation linked to moving towards the unknown in an experience. It’s a sensation linked to any act of experimentation: the parameters are set up and the phenomenological journey embarked upon, in all its unexpectable complexity.

Spencer spends most of the time I’m there alternating between sitting and standing next to the chairs. While the performance is called Sittin’, today it is more about loitering than sitting. Sitting as synonymous for occupying space. I loiter, in solidarity, and wonder how long it will take for someone to say something to her – whether a question: what are you doing here everyday? Or a command: stop sitting here every day. I also wonder at my desire for exactly that – for some drama. I remember Spencer talking to me a bit about her inability to just drift off and relax during her days because of the site she has chosen: directly in front of the “Red Caps” – people who function, as far as I can tell, as a mix between security officers and porters. Sitting in front of them keeps her always alert to her role as public performer, as interloper, as potential problem. I think about this as I loiter in front of the Red Caps, trying to ignore them and dissolve into my surroundings, go back into the visual or sonic detail of the site. I listen to the echo of the hall, to a couple arguing in a corner. I wonder how long it would take me to exhaust my surroundings and what, exactly, exhaustion might mean in this context? Would I just keep peeling layers away from the space like an onion? Only if I wasn’t chilled to the bone. Maybe someone reading this will bring Spencer a windbreaker…

Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 6:50 PM

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Karen Spencer: Sittin’, Union Station, Thursday October 28, 2010 (NL)

It is three thousand seven hundred and twenty-three minutes into Karen Spencer’s Sittin’ performance at Union Station. It is cold, and I am not the only one here. I recognize a festival-goer sitting with her. Together they gaze gently into the distance, in roughly the same direction, as if waiting for something or someone.

I know from having talked to Spencer earlier that her experience of the site has changed. One of the “Red Caps”, sitting in front of us, named Dan, introduced himself to her the other day, asking how she was doing and if she needed anything. Only in Canada, I think to myself, having recently moved back from the US. The drama I was waiting for finally arrived and it came in the form of a gentle query. No request to move on. No harsh what are you doing here and where is your ticket? Feeling somehow included in the formal social life of the station, no longer waiting for someone to notice and say something – perhaps to send her packing – Spencer is visibly more relaxed. Or at least it seems this way to me.

Spencer comes up and offers me her seat: it’s the best seat in the house, she says. I put aside my computer and just sit. At first I notice visual rhymes: two green bags, two yellow ones. But quickly, this time, possibly because of the set-up by Spencer, I find myself feeling more deeply rooted in the space. I’m reminded of a wonderful short story by Ursula K Le Guin called “The Direction of the Road”. It is told from the perspective of an oak tree watching the world walk, gallop and drive by. Similarly, here, I feel like a node in the center of a world that is spinning at different speeds.

Today I am tired. Doing this bloging with a new baby at the breast has wrung me out — its own form of durational performance. Even at a slight distance from the vents that blow just behind the row of chairs, I am chilled to the bone. I can feel it around my neck and creeping into my jaw. Nonetheless, sitting here with Spencer relaxes me. I let the rest of the world drift away and concentrate on the production of space. On inhabiting a thoroughfare. On experiencing architecture. On the subtleties of the intervention: sitting. A seemingly passive act rendered so very active in intensity.

Three thousand seven hundred and fifty seven minutes into the performance, I leave, refreshed.

Posted by Natalie S. Loveless at 1:45 PM

daniel baird, festival blogger post:

Born in Los Angeles, Daniel Baird lived and worked in New York City from 1989, where he was a founder of The Brooklyn Rail, a magazine for which he worked as an art editor, feature writer, and monthly columnist. Since moving to Toronto in 2000, he has written on the arts for numerous Canadian publications, including Canadian Art and Border Crossings. He is the former editor of The Walrus, and remains a regular contributor on topics as diverse as contemporary art and history, political theory and religion. Daniel’s blog posts are marked ‘(DB)’.

Most performance artists insist that what they do is distinct from what is disparagingly termed “mere spectacle.” I take this to mean something like this: performance is not reducible to the images it might result in, which can be remarkably beautiful or grotesque, but rather consists in the ineluctable series of acts that unfold in time. This may seem obvious, or tautological, but it’s important to keep in mind right now since the work of some of the most influential performance artists, like Marina Abramovic, is largely experienced through finely staged and crafted documentation, and is now conceived in a way that performances can be restaged like theatre events, sometimes decades after the original performance. Yet it is the specific, vanishing singularity of actions in time that gives performance art its distinctiveness, and is also the place where the boundary between art and life begins to blur.

The Fluxus artists famously insisted that no real distinction should be made between art and life—art is life, and life is art. This, of course, raises the broader philosophical question of what constitutes “life” and “art” in this context. These questions were given special importance for me this morning when I headed off in search of Karen Elaine Spencer’s performance in Union Station, which was scheduled to take place between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. I purposely did not investigate in advance the nature of the performance but rather went there cold, hoping to encounter it accidentally like any other passerby on his way to catch a train to Montreal or Winnipeg. This proved considerably more difficult than I had expected. Lurking in front of the station, I found myself focusing in on a short, compact woman somewhere in her thirties dressed in tight jeans and a windbreaker, her straight blond tamped down by a toque. She looked upset, agitated, standing beside a suitcase packed to the point of bursting. Occasionally she stamped her feet as though about to launch into a tantrum, muttered to herself, and walked out in a semi-circle around the plaza in front the station. She did this repeatedly with such precision it struck me that it was part of a routine, and I was convinced that she was Karen Elaine Spencer and that this was the scheduled performance, or at least part of it. At some point she pulled an iPhone out of her pocket, stared at its screen, and began to cry, and I started to feel uneasy about the fact that I had been standing there watching her and even taking notes for a long time—after all, she might not be Karen Elaine Spencer! Then a woman I gradually realized was probably her mother arrived and she started yelling, in French, about how she had too much luggage with her, how she had to get rid of some things, and her mother told her that she had to calm down or else she would miss her train. By then I fully understood that this could not be Karen Elaine Spencer, and that I was not watching a work of performance art, but still I followed them into the station and to the line for the train to Quebec City. She was not Karen Elaine Spencer, was not a performance artist, was simply a woman on her way back home to some sad event, like a funeral. But then maybe she was Karen Elaine Spencer, maybe the performance consisted of posing as someone going to Quebec City under tragic circumstances. Or not. And so forth.

I later learned Karen Elaine Spencer was sick and the performance that day had been canceled.

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Ideas Incarnate: 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art Descends upon Toronto

The 7a*11d collective, also known as Gale Allen, Annie Onyi Cheung, Shannon Cochrane, Paul Couillard, Jess Dobkin, Adam Herst, Johanna Householder, and Tanya Mars, are descending upon Toronto for the eighth time with the biennial 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art. With 30 local and international performance artists in tow, from October 21st to October 31st the elusive world of performance — so often living spontaneously, cryptically, and ephemerally in urban areas across the globe — is opening itself to Toronto audiences who may or may not be aware that they are stumbling into a world where ideas are incarnate, and bodies transcend traditional norms of performance. If you are not filled with joy and terror, you should be.

Martine Viale | Courtesy of 7a*11d

Martine Viale | Courtesy of 7a*11d

The world of contemporary performance art is typically outside of the usual fine arts crowds of Toronto, straddling the barriers between theatre and installation, text and embodiment. The work of performance artists is to engage crowds with something both visual and interactive, often transcendental, often absurd and conceptual.

The body itself can be used as an art object, as Canada’s Karen Elaine Spencer’s Sitting suggests, as she kicked off this year’s festival performing publicly in Union Station, sitting, perhaps waiting, still in the same seat amidst travellers in transition. Her body is working against the movement of the crowd in flux, her stationary position the antithesis of their motion. I think of the homeless people I see outside of our invisible superstructure. I think of Hardt and Negri’s assertion that the only way to subvert globalization is to stop moving. I think of people in waiting rooms, waiting for a loved one, bad news, a cab, a route canal. The body itself becomes a springboard for interpretation, begging us for the scaffolding of cohesion, offering us a sitting body in wait and letting us fill in the gaps. It is performance art at its best, and its intent exists only in autonomous fragments of a body in memory; what each individual subjectivity can take away.

Art object or provocateur, the body can be used to provoke and stir the audience’s notions of the finite. As Norway’s Stein Henningsen’s untitled performance at the Mercer Gallery suggests, the body and its limitations can be used to actively provoke and disturb the viewer. Beneath a four hundred pound block of ice, Henningsen lays with his hands beneath him, ice melting into his body, water pooling on the floor. Labouring to a knife across the room, he crawls onerously and the body’s limitations become the viewers’ concerns, each breath stinging through the crowd’s singular body. This performance is tactile, physical, breathtaking.

The festival has only just begun, and Steel Bananas will be weaving in and out to sample the spontaneous fare of Sylvie Tourangeau, Michael Fernandes, TouVA Collective, Agnes Nedregard, Martine Viale, Étienne Boulanger, and more. The festival is more than worth the two-year wait, as this year’s miscellany of artists from all over the globe offer a striking pastiche of perspectives which will surely move audiences to fits of joy, fear, laughter, and tears.

Check out the festival guide here, and we hope to see you there


May 21, 2010

title: rocking/sucking
date: november 3rd, 4th and 5th, 1999
location: saint mary’s hospital center, sir mortimer b. davis jewish general hospital and montréal general hospital, montréal, québec
duration: 40 minutes each
supported by: public art as social intervention

the three interventions were unannounced (no time, date or location was given in advance) and no visual documentation was recorded on site. the work was presented orally at the conference on november 6th, 1999.

on the way home from saint mary’s hospital i stopped at the photo-booth in the metro and took these photos

rocking/sucking at saint mary’s
i enter saint mary’s hospital with my backpack containing the jar of honey. i go up to the fourth floor waiting room. i take off my back pack and sit on the floor. i assume a sitting position: feet together, legs bent, arms wrapped around knees and hands clasped together. i slowly shift my weight backwards until i surrender into the fall, into the rocking motion. i rock myself. i rock myself back and forth. i rock turning my body on its axis in a clockwise rotation. rotating twice, i stop, wait, lift myself to the standing position, retrieve my backpack and leave the building.

still on the hospital grounds i sit on a bench at the front entrance. i sit next to a man who is dressed all in white and smoking a cigarette. i take the honey-jar out of the backpack. i hold the jar in my hand. i open the lid and place it nearby. i raise my right hand and slowly submerge my fingers into the honey. i lift my honey-drenched fingers to my open mouth, close my lips around my fingers and suck. i suck and suck until all the honey is gone. i then slide my fingers through my lips and begin again. i repeat this gesture until half the honey in the jar is gone. then; i put the lid back on the jar, return the jar to my backpack, sling the backpack on my back and walk away.

me and jess (2)

May 11, 2010

may 27, 2003
jess and i meet on the grounds of the st. james united church.  jess is already there sitting at a picnic table.  i am bringing food:  bagels, salmon, cream cheese, chocolate, yellow pepper, some chip mix with chocolate and peanuts and an exotic kind of fruit i don’t know the name of.  we sit at the picnic table facing each other and i  feed jess and jess feeds me.  we can’t put food into our own mouths.  a guy walks over and asks us if he can have some of our food cuz he doesn’t want to go into the kitchen where food is served at the church.  he sits with us and chats while we prepare his sandwhich (actually it is jss who does the preparing.)  another guy comes to sit with us and asks for a light, jess asks for a cigarette in exchange for chocolate.

me and jess

May 9, 2010

may 13, 2003

jess and i are in the metro. we are sitting together in the metro car. we begin at one end of the orange line and continue to the other end. this takes about fifty minutes. as the metro travels to the end of the line jess tells me her life story. as the metro travels back to the beginning i tell jess my life story.

may 20, 2003

jess and i are walking up the hill to the top of mont royal. on the way up the hill i tell  jess her life story as if it is my life story. i stick pretty much to the way jess told me in the metro, except i add in feelings. we are holding hands. on the way back down the mountain jess takes my life story and tells it to me as if it was her life story. we are still holding hands. jess is more imaginative in telling me my life story. she says she doesn’t remember everything i told her.

piss tree

April 30, 2010

winter 2001/2002

performance or action begun alone, not with the intent of repeating, not with the intent of bringing others into it. a slowly formed idea, arising from a long time desire to piss in public, as a way of claiming territory, as a way of acting free like a man, although as a woman. (i often see men pissing in public in my neighbourhood, living as i do next to a bar and a metro station.) did not begin pissing at the weeping willow. this was later to become a marked destination, both in terms of the tree, and in terms of the length of the walk. it was important it was winter, both for the solitude of the walk, and for the sensation of cold air on the ass, and the trace of pee left in the snow. i performed it probably about 21 times over the winter. i did not take it upon myself to keep track. the walk from home to tree was about five miles. i will mark this out on the map.

piss tree

it is a one hour walk to the tree. i walk at night, it is quiet and calm and cold. i walk with my dog swimmer. we walk through the vacant field and over the train tracks till we are along the bike path next to the lachine canal. the canal is frozen over, snow covers the path and we are alone. we walk past construction sites, factories and empty lots.
the tree is beautiful. it stands along the water. it is a weeping willow. i walk off the path towards the tree. i stand underneath the tree and i undo my belt buckle, i undo the top button of my pants, i unzip my fly. i drop my pants, i squat, and i pee. the air is cool on my ass, the pee leaves a hole in the snow, and because i drink a large bowl of tea before i leave home, i pee for a long while. i watch the cars go by on the other side of the canal. afterwards i stand, pull up my pants, and buckle my belt. i stay with the tree, then i turn and walk with swimmer, till one hour later, we are back home.

march 21
it is my forty-second birthday. montréal is having a spring snowstorm. i go to the metro place saint henri and meet kelly-lynne wood, zoe kreye and brigitte dazcier. it is 7pm. we are going on my one-hour walk to the tree with my dog swimmer. we walk out in the cold snowy night. swimmer loves it. the wind is blowing. i lead and they follow. we must make our own path through the snow. we are about halfway there and we stop for a juice box, and try to hide from the wind. we are coming up to the –in the process of being constructed- bridge that goes across the canal. a man stops us who tells us we cannot pass, i tell him we can, that i have done it before, and i keep on walking. the others follow me and we step around the fence blocking the pathway. we continue. finally we get to the tree. i am relieved to have arrived. i realise that it is a long walk. i squat and i pee, and so do the others. four squatting women marking this tree as theirs. i am so happy i kiss everyone. we hang out for a bit, then start the long trek back home. i feel a warm glow seep through me as i realise the gift these women have given to me. by the time we get back we are all cold and tired. it is 9:30pm. i invite everyone back to my house for some hot chocolate and i dry their wet clothes in my dryer. after we have thawed out they put their dry clothes back on and head for their homes. i take a hot bath and go to bed.


squished oranges and orange peels on canvas tarp in gallery window.

today was the third day of performing my “ongoing performative gesture.” today was not a day of tenderness and i felt disconnected from my actions.

rather than:

sit on the stool and slowly take the orange into my hands and pierce the skin and insert my thumb and squish the juice out of the orange and tear the orange apart and let the orange pieces drop to the ground and hold my hands out in front of me and let the juice drip off and then dry my hands in front of the fan to then bend down and pick another orange to pierce the skin,

i fumbled around and squished some oranges quickly and tried to reconnect with the gestures, but then i went down onto the floor and took the light in my hands and began directing the light at the orange pieces on the floor and inspecting the dried flesh and skin and then i started to give each piece of orange its place and thought about violence and how it can start out as tenderness and how tenderness can shift to violence and the fan blew air over my body and the light was warm on my hands and it became o.k. to do this quiet arranging of orange pieces rather than doing what i had thought i should be doing.

no-one hears the sounds of oranges squishing and juice dripping other than me.

Labouring the Land
Marie-Michelle Deschamps and Michèle Lacombe

Gallery and black box:
What Happens When Nothing Happens
Independant Study Group (ISG) Véronique Malo and Emily Mennerdahl

The artists included in the exhibition are:
Chantal Durand, Anna Jane McIntyre, Tamara Henderson and Jon Knowles, Jacinthe Lessard, Sean Montgomery and Eric Simon, Diane Morin, Taien Ng-Chan, Lina Persson, Meghan Price, Jerry Ropson, Karen Elaine Spencer and Christin Wahlström.

Vernissage Friday 11th of September 2009, 5 à 7
Karen Elaine Spencer
Will present an ongoing performative gesture in the ST. Catherine Street window.
FOFA Mini-Skool
Saturday 12th of September 2009
We are sharpening our pencils to mark the start of the year. The FOFA is proud to present two exhibition projects that examine art, labour, learning and cultural perceptions of each with distinct methodologies and outcomes.
Please join the FOFA Gallery and FASA as we join together to present an afternoon of presentations, discussions, and interchange. The Independant Study Group and collaborating artists: Anna Jayne McIntyre, Chantal Durand, Taien-Ng-Chan, Fake It ‘Til You Make It (Eric Simon and Sean Montgomery) along with Marie-Michelle Deschamps and Michèle Lacombe, will host a series of events beginning at 1:00 and finishing up with a round table talk at 3:00.

“What Happens When Nothing Happens” is curated by Veronique Malo and Emily Mennerdahl, active members of the Independant Study Group (ISG), a nomadic artist collective. The curatorial project was conceived whilst working together in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The exhibition “What Happens When Nothing Happens” presents a variety of artists that are based in Montreal and Gothenburg. Although the participating artists vary in media, approaches and art practices they share a creative process that dialogues in its shapes, mediums and forms. The aim with the exhibition is to explore what happens in between, before, and after projects are conceived. Presented in the gallery are unedited ideas, sketches, drawings, thoughts, trials; everything and nothing that happens meanwhile something is being made.

13:00 Artist’s talk
Chantal Durand works with sculpture, drawing, printing and installation whilst exploring the relation of uncanniness we maintain with our body.
13:30 Artist’s talk
Taien-Ng-Chan is a writer and film/videomaker who has written drama for stage, screen and radio. Taien incorporates daily travel (walking, riding the bus) as part of her art practice.
Fake It Til’You Make It, a collective that met at an amateur lumber jack competition consists of artists Eric Simon and Sean Montgomery. They will be giving a performative talk about “fake” artists and their inspiring art practices and work.
15:45 pause café

15:00 Round Table
The curatorial collective, Independant Study Group (Veronique Malo and Emily Mennerdahl) and collaborative artists Marie-Michelle Deschamps and Michèle Lacombe will discuss the expanded notions of studio practices and practice based research and explore the ideas within collaborative processes. Each of their distinct projects acknowledge, celebrate and display the labours inherent in art practices and put into question both ways of seeing and the attribution of value of time spent in, on, and around the stuffs of art. After short presentations on their practices , FOFA Director, jake moore will join them, and you, for discussion.
Independant Study Group (Véronique Malo and Emily Mennerdahl) will present their collaboration, and the process of the curatorial project as indefinite and evolving project rooted in their everyday lives. Marie-Michelle Deschamps and Michèle Lacombe, two emerging montreal artists that both work with process-based conceptual drawing, will discuss the birth of a collaborative project and its potential for extending one’s own practice and personal artistic development as shifts in perspective occur when in relation with another artist, a site, and materials.

The FOFA GALLERY gratefully acknowledges the support of FASA, and the Canada Council for the Arts in the realisation of this project.

karen’s bread shoes

August 5, 2003


these are karen’s bread shoes. she walked from her studio to the park in them. it was awkward walking. bread broke off and fell onto the sidewalk. at the park she took off the bread shoes and put them under a tree. she thought the birds would eat the bread shoes. the birds did not. she waited and watched a long time, then she picked up her bread shoes and walked back to the studio.(2003)