Two Evenings of International Performance Video Art

  • A co-presentation with 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art (Oct. 26 to Nov. 7; 821-4674)

Part of Fall 1998

Performance to Camera:
Recent British Video, Part II
Catherine Elwes In Person
Thursday, November 5, 8 pm
Cinecycle, 129 Spadina Ave. (down the lane)

“The direct address to the viewer and the intimate space of the video image has long inspired artists to perform to camera. This British selection ranges from the minimal performance of Smith and Stewart’s breathless evocation of a couple’s interdependence to the outrageous exhibitionism of Michael Curran’s erotic prancing in the face of female indifference. The deadpan Pythonesque delight in the absurd is also in evidence in John Smith’s work while a more lyrical note is struck by the curious childhood rituals that Angela Derby weaves around bodily hair. The tradition of free speech, exemplified by the soap box orations at London’s Speakers Corner, underlies the uncompromising realism of Anee Whitehurst’ address from her wheelchair. Keith Piper similarly leaves us in no doubt as to his subjectivity as a young black male coming to terms with the history of slavery. This collection of works reinforces video as a medium of the personal statement in the face of the reductive generalizations of broadcast television.”
Guest curated by Catherine Elwes from the Collection of London Electronic Arts. Recent British Video Part I will be presented with Cinematheque Ontario/AGO’s The Independents, Wed. Oct. 21, 7 pm in the Kinnear Education Theatre, AGO. Free!

Performance to Camera: Recent British Video, Part II is presented with the generous assistance of The British Council and London Electronic Arts.

North American Performance Video
Friday, November 6, 7 & 9pm programs
Cinecycle, 129 Spadina Ave. (down the lane)
($7 Non-member price for both shows)

7 pm American Pycho(drama): Sigmund Freud vs. Henry Ford
This humourous selection of performance-oriented videos maps a trajectory between consumer society and the psychoanalytic confessional. HalfLifers perform two ‘rescue’ missions using coloured snack food and everyday objects as means towards transcendence. In The Horror, Emily Breer and Joe Gibbons recuperates Coppola’s Apocalypse as a day at the beach. Gibbon’s solo work, Multiple Barbie, features the artist as a smooth talking psychoanalyst, gently attempting to fuse the mute doll’s shattered plastic psyche. Three works by Anne McGuire all employ genre conventions derived from popular culture (the variety show, the talk show and the rock video); McGuire’s presence as a performer amplifies the sense of strangeness that lies at the heart of the familiar, creating a vertigo between form and content. Animal Charm’s interventions in this program are homemade commercials and info-mercials, sampled from a reservoir of neglected or useless images.Ó Guest curated by Nelson Henricks


American Pycho(drama): Sigmund Freud vs. Henry Ford

This humourous selection of performance-oriented works maps a trajectory between consumer society and the psycho-analytic confessional. HalfLifers (performance duo Torsten Z. Burns and Anthony Discenza), perform two ‘rescue’ missions using coloured snack food and everyday objects as a means towards transcendence. Emily Breer and Joe Gibbons’ “The Phony Trilogy” recuperates Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse’ as a day at the beach. Gibbon’s solo work, “Multiple Barbie”, features the artist as a smooth talking psychoanalyst, gently attempting to fuse the mute doll’s shattered plastic psyche. The three works by Anne McGuire all employ genre conventions derived from popular culture (the variety show, the talk show and the rock video); Anne McGuire’s presence as a performer amplifies the sense of strangeness that lies at the heart of the familiar, creating a vertigo between form and content. Maria Fernanda Cardoso and Ross Harley’s whimsical flea circus delights and astounds us with feats of daring performed by real fleas, while Animal Charm’s interventions in this programme – homemade commercials and info-mercials sampled from a reservoir of neglected or useless images – offer moments of resistance.

Stuffing, Animal Charm, 1998, 4 min.
Control Corridor, HalfLifers, 1997, 11 min.
The Phony Trilogy: Caddy, Pool Boy, The Horror, 1997, 4 min.
I’m Crazy and You’re not Wrong, Anne McGuire, 1997, 11 min.
Ashley, Animal Charm, 1997, 9 min.
Actions in Action, HalfLifers, 1998, 11 min.
The Telling, Anne McGuire, 1998, 3 min.
Multiple Barbie, Joe Gibbons, 1998, 9 min.
Cardoso Flea Circus, Maria Cardoso and Ross Harley, 1997, 8 min.
When I Was A Monster, Anne McGuire, 1996, 5 min.
Lightfoot Fever, Animal Charm, 1998, 5 min.


Animal Charm is a collaborative project of Rich Bott and Jim Fetterly, Chicago sound and media artists and recent graduates of the School of the Art Institute. The release of this compilation is a fresh, witty and compelling addition to video’s rich legacy of media deconstruction. Through appropriation and re-assemble, these intriguing works upset the hypnotic spectacle of TV viewing by displacing its logic and forcing viewers to make new connections among its codes and conventions. While this disruption is playful, it also reveals the tragic underbelly of corporate message-making-the way it appropriates and suppresses nature and “unpredictability”, the way it preys on human vulnerability, and the way it shamelessly celebrates mediocrity and distraction.

Stuffing – Cross-eyed with cross-cutting.

Ashley – A tour de force of incongruous juxtapositions, startling dislocations
and ingenious visual rhymes assembled from the detritus of late-night television.

Fever – “You give me fever”.


HalfLifers is an ongoing collaborative project created by longtime friends Torsten Z. Burns and Anthony Discenza. Burns received his BFA in Studio Art from Alfred University in 1990 and an MFA in Performance & Video from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1993. Anthony Discenza received a BFA in Studio Art from Wesleyan University in 1990. Their work has screened at the New York Video Festival, The Knitting Factory, the Casting Couch as well as many other national and international venues. They currently reside as neighbors in West Oakland, California. “Video works that dig deep into our post contemporary desire to be saved from ourselves, our surroundings, and our technology.” – Ricardo Dominguez

Control Corridor – In a fictional conduit space, language and function are recontextualized as two navigators struggle to re-assess the nature of their mission while engaged in an eternal cycle of maintenance and communication routines.

Actions in Action – The first work in the new ‘Action’ series plunges into a world of frantic heroes trapped in a continual crisis of dissolution and reification. An ordinary domestic setting is recast as a psychoactive landscape in which the concept of function becomes situational and fluid. Only through the strategic application of organic and inorganic “devices” can this zone be successfully navigated and the mission be saved.


Emily Breer makes live-action/animation films and shows them in festivals and museums here and abroad. Her last film ‘Superhero’ shows continuously at the Museum of the Moving Image in NY. ‘Superhero’ and ‘The Genius’, a feature she co-directed with Joe Gibbons were included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial. She has also directed spots and music videos for public television (ITVS), MTV and Comedy Central. Most recently, Breer and Gibbons have collaborated on a series of one minute videos, starring Gibbons, shot on Hi-8, animated and edited on the computer. Joe Gibbons’ dry humor comes across in obsessive monologues that scrape the bottom of a monomaniacal mind, spilling forth with fantasies of power, destruction and death.

The Phony Trilogy: Caddy, Pool Boy, The Horror – A real-time video-meets-digital-animation trilogy of shorts featuring the highly excited and mildly delusional Joe Gibbons. As the phony, Gibbons recounts his influence among rock legends Iggy Pop and Brian Wilson. Brilliant computer animation superimposition’s by Emily Breer provide a additional layer of biting commentary.

Multiple Barbie – Part of Gibbons series of tapes on Barbie and Ken and shot in pixelvision, Multiple Barbie features the artist as a smooth talking psychoanalyst imploring the silent doll to explore her multiple personalities in order to purge their power from her psyche.

Anne McGuire is a San Francisco-based video artist whose works contain elements of impersonation and performance, personal exorcism and media critique, and autobiography and humor. Her works have been featured at such venues as the New York Video Festival, the Stuttgart Filmwinter, the Film Arts Festival (San Francisco), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Northwest Film Center (Portland), the Pacific Film Archives (Berkeley), the American Museum of the Moving Image, (New York), the Viper Festival (Switzerland), Impakt Festival (Holland), and the Center for the Arts, (San Francisco). McGuire received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and currently serves as Curatorial Assistant at the Pacific Film Archive. McGuire’s works expose the formal elements of a given era’s media mannerisms. She uses the “private cabaret” in which
she operates to lay bare an era of media and cultural morŽs.

I’m Crazy and You’re not Wrong – McGuire portrays a Kennedy-era singer performing in the space where theatre meets television. McGuire’s Garland-esque gestures provide both a sense of tragedy and humour.

The Telling – McGuire tells two acquaintances a secret about her past using a three camera set-up in the Desi Arnez style.

When I Was a Monster – A performance about the artist’s experience in the aftermath of an accident.


Maria Fernanda Cardoso is a Colombian artist who uses unconventional materials to produce her sculptures and installations. Striking enough to be the girl in a skimpy bikini flying high on a trapeze, she is smart enough to have actually graduated from Yale. Instead of running away to join the circus, she decided to make her own – The Cardoso Flea Circus. In her former life as a sculptor and installation artist, Cardoso exhibited widely in major museums and galleries in Latin America, the US and Europe. Her prior work has also involved the natural world, including sculptures made of water, flies, starfish, seahorses, frogs, lizards – even human bones. Recent solo exhibitions include Cardoso
Flea Circus (Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Exploratorium, San Francisco), Woven Water and Other Sculptures (Ruth Bloom Gallery, Santa Monica), Submarine Landscapes (Capp Street Project, San Francisco), Sex Lives of Fleas (Bogota Biennale) and Maria Fernanda Cardoso Recent Sculptures (List Visual Arts Center, MIT, Cambridge). Cardoso has been a visiting professor at CalArts from 1991 to 1993, at the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, in 1995, and the San Francisco Art Institute. She currently resides in Bogota and Sydney.

Before running away to join the flea circus, Ross Rudesch Harley was an interdisciplinary artist and writer. His videos and installations were exhibited in places like the Zhu Qizhan Gallery in Shanghai, Corbusier’s Chandigarh Art Museum in India, and in the “Video Viewpoints” series at New York’s MoMA. Earlier projects include Digital Garden I-IV (1992-94), Woman in Room 32 (1994) and The Forgotten Adventures of Krazy Kat (1996). In 1997 he got his break with the circus, and co-directed The Cardoso Flea Circus Video with Maria Fernanda Cardoso for the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. In the 1980s he was an editor of the journal Art + Text, and in 1992 was director of the Third International Symposium on Electronic Art in Sydney. A little later on, he produced the American Federation of Art’s touring exhibition An Eccentric Orbit, and edited two anthologies – New Media Technologies and Artists in Cyberculture.
He also used to contribute a regular column on design and pop-culture to The Australian newspaper and one on contemporary music for Rolling Stone. When not traveling with the circus, he teaches in the Theatre/Film Department at the University of New South Wales, dividing his time between Sydney and Bogota.
Cardoso Flea Circus

The flea circus exists! It’s for real! In a world of internet and high technology, there still remains something so arcane, so simple and extraordinary, so absolutely incredible as a circus of educated fleas. Marvel at the powerful Brutus, the strongest flea on earth, pull a locomotive that weighs 160,000 times his own weight. See the flea ballerinas dressed in micro-tutus, dance to the rhythms of Tango! Hold your breath as the highwire artists defy gravity on the tightrope and swing precariously on a miniature trapeze. Tremble as Fearless Alfredo risks his life at the Highdive! And much more! Nobody believed it was possible to train fleas. But Maria Fernanda Cardoso has proven them wrong. After five years of intensive research, the Cardoso Flea Circus is presented here in this sensational video. Produced by Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop and Museum on the occasion of Cardoso’s residency, this video will convince even the most hardened skeptics it’s all true! Thanks to sophisticated video equipment and high tech lenses, Ross Rudesch Harley has captured the feats of these prodigious insects in the world’s smallest Spectacle: The Cardoso Flea Circus! See with your own eyes the most astonishing feats ever realized by these tiny insects, whose strength and ability defies the limits of imagination. It has to be seen to be believed! (Music by Christian Marclay and Beo Morales).

American Pycho(drama) was guest curated by Nelson Henricks.

Nelson Henricks graduated from the Alberta College of Art (Calgary) in 1986. Since then, he has worked in a variety of mediums, but is best
known for his videotapes, which have been exhibited worldwide. In 1994,
Henricks received a BFA from Concordia University (MontrŽal). His
videotape CRUSH was the winner of the SODEC Video Prize at the 1998 Rendez-vous du CinŽma QuŽbecois. He lives and works in MontrŽal, where he teaches at Concordia University.

Thanks to Mindy Faber and the Video Data Bank for assisting in this presentation of this program.

9 pm Smells Like Bonbons: Canadian Performance Video
This program features some of the best of recent videos which challenge and extend the idea of “performance: and “performance video” into exciting new territories. Most of these tapes have never been seen by Toronto audiences, including the premiere of new works by Monique Moumblow and Emily Vey Duke. Also featured is Micah Lexier’s One Minute of My Time, originally produced for BRAVO, and the Toronto premiere of Barb Webb’s Smells Like TV. Recent favourites from Yudi Sewraj, Sylvie Laliberté, Jinhan Ko, John Marriott and others round out the program.