An evening at AGO Next: “All the World’s a Stage.”

On Tuesday of this week I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario to and AGO Next event. Since I am a member of the AGO Next group, I am invited to attend lectures and preview art exhibits at the AGO every month. This month the theme was performance art and called “All the World’s a Stage.”

The evening was marked by a mesmerizing (and very funny) piece by Yoko Ono. It was performed by the members of the Madawaska Sting Quartet, as well as by two professional dancers. The piece involved two musicians playing a piece of music and then two dancers slowly, methodically binding them in medical gauze. It was strange to hear the interruptions in the playing and the change in the tonality as the dancers disabled the musicians progressively, reducing arm and body movement. It was funny and strange at the same time.

The group was joined by Paisley Jura, a Toronto singer and songwriter, and they performed a piece by John Cage which involved percussion. It was so good. And so much fun!

After these performances, Diane Borsato, a native of the GTA gave a lecture on her experiences as a performance artist. She was witty, funny and very informative. Her visuals were great and the humour that is inherent to many of her pieces is a great counterpoint to the sometimes heavy postmodern philosophical ideas that one can find in contemporary performance art.

After the performances and the lecture, there were hors d’oeuvres and drinks. I had a chance to have a brief, but engaging conversation with both Paisley Jura and the violinist Sarah Fraser-Raff. It was interesting to chat about the music performance and education scene in Toronto.

My friend Stanley Yee, Principal of the Dragon Fencing Academy in Richmond Hill, was also in attendance.

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