Working with hub14 over the last year has really broadened my horizons in regards to what types of performance, and what types of performers are on my map. With this partnership, my map of the world has finally been updated from one of those old maps where North America is somehow connected to Russia to a slightly newer one where all the continents have more or less their true outline but there are still things like giant serpents in the sea and the four winds controlling the air.
While exploring these new, defined worlds, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working alongside Adriana Disman, a passionate, caring and ambitious creator who I really want to describe as fiery, but if I do you’d have to imagine the cool blue flame that keeps burning on after all that crazy orange has had its time.
Let’s just get on with the interview.
Who are we talking to?
Adriana Disman: I’m a performance art maker, thinker, and curator based between Toronto and Montreal. I’m currently curating a performance art series at hub 14 entitled LINK & PIN as well as completing my M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University.
What gets you going in the morning?
A foolish optimism.
And right now: Anne Michael’s writing, a particular video recording of Glenn Gould playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5.
What is your earliest memory of realizing, yep, this is what I’m going to do with my life?
God, I think I have that realization everyday. One moment, each day, when time stops and all I hear is my heartbeat and I think, “Oh. So this is what life is for me.”
Have there been times you seriously question why you pursue this lifestyle/art form? If so, what was it that kept you in it, or brought you back?
Absolutely. I originally trained and worked professionally as an actor for many years before growing unhappy with my path. When I found performance art, I essentially had to choose to leave a world I had worked very hard to learn. A profound leap, for me. And one that required taking ownership of my craft — to trust my way of doing things. And an absolutely freeing one. Now, even when I occasionally agree to do a theatre piece, I carve out space to make the work in my own way. Maybe that’s just part of aging as an artist.
What was the inspiration for creating LINK & PIN?
The inspiration for L&P grew out of a series of house shows that I curated in Toronto called A Home for Performance in 2011. The events took place in my Grandmother’s house (thank god for grandmothers who love performance art!) and were borne out of a desire to open space for people whose work I loved and wanted to see.
Eventually the shows got too big for Gram’s house.
So when hub 14 awarded me the Community Chest to put on a series, I was thinking a lot about the sense of community that sprung up around Home. Part of that was from having shows in the afternoon, which allowed for a different kind of attention to bring to the work. And, since it wasn’t 11pm when the performances finished, people would hang out and talk about the pieces afterward, meet each other. I watched beautiful friendships and collaborations spring out of these talks.
Why LINK & PIN?
In thinking about the name for the series, I was questioning how to articulate an intention to create community, to forge links between people, without falling into an idealistic unicorns-and-rainbows-lets-all-hold-hands-and-love-each-other. I mean, I love unicorns as much as the next person but I don’t take community building lightly. I think community building is sticky- it so easily becomes exclusionary and snooty.
Link-and-pin is actually a coupling technique that was used to connect train cars. Links protruded from each end of the cars and would be brought together so that an employee would drop a big “pin” through both, connecting them. However, it was actually exceptionally dangerous- apparently, many folks lost fingers or were even crushed between the cars. Yeeesh.
This, for me, is a perfect example of community building: usually simple until unexpectedly violent.
Tell us a little about the last two LINK & PIN instalments Were there loose themes that determined who was involved, or did the themes come about after you looked at the rosters?
The first event, FEMINIST FIBRES, actually grew out of the work of Helene Vosters and Thea Fitz-James, two artist whom I love and whose work I saw a strong affinity between. From there, I invited Joce Tremblay and Maryam Taghavi, proposing the theme for them to create in response to, because I thought they would bring wonderfully different viewpoints to the event.
PARTICIPATION on the other hand, was theme-first. Most of my own performance works have been participatory and I have huge ethical questions about the genre. As an audience member, participatory works have been both some of the most transformative and some of the most violating works I’ve experienced. So I invited contributors whom I thought would have an interesting take/ response to the theme. It’s worth mentioning that two of the artists were actually crowd-sourced: I sent out a message on facebook asking, “Who is your favourite Toronto- or Montreal-based participatory performance artist?” I researched everyone who was suggested and then invited two artists from the resulting list!
I keep stretching the way that artists are given space to perform within the series because I believe that some curatorial methodologies prioritize certain kinds of artists / people. It’s a small gesture but one that I hope begins the large task of opening the series to more and more different kinds of artists.
Who are some of the artists involved this time around?
Oh baby. It’s gonna be good. For REPERFORMANCE, Victoria Stanton is coming in from Montreal to present the second iteration of a durational work that was shown at VIVA! this year. Also on Saturday, Feb 8th: hollyt and Jack Bride are presenting a very exciting piece inspired by Breyer P-Orridge. On Sunday, Feb. 9th, Julie Lassonde is reperforming a persona from Margaret Dragu (who’s also in town that weekend performing with WIA projects!), Brianna MacLellan is presenting a work by Julie Radul, Shannon Cochrane is presenting a top-secret piece, and Paulina Wiszowata is inviting the public to reperform Vita Acconci’s Following Piece with her!
Basically, I’m swooning.
And I want to mention that all of this has been made possible by the help of my fantastic intern, Veronia Abrenica.
Describe LINK & PIN in three adjectives, a phrase, or with sound.
LETS TRY IT!
Do you have anything else you’d like to share? Photos, videos, links, posters, stories, wishes?
Yes! Actually, you are in luck because it just so happens that we’ve JUST released L&P’s online platform for REPERFORMANCE. Our first video addition to the series by Lee Henderson and Bee Pallomina is, essentially, spectacular. I love this work so much that I literally start squealing and get all wiggly when I read the description.
So now, for your viewing pleasure, from The Marina Abramovic Institute Department of Puppets presents Relation in Time:
“The Marina Abramovic Institute Department of Puppets is pleased to launch Seven Easy Puppet Pieces, a collaboration by its first graduating class of students and their research into performance, video, duration, and the limits of the puppetbody.
Relation in Time references the absence and presence of a bodily audience, and the gradual loss of connection between puppets. Beginning with its premiere as part of the LINK&PIN online platform, we at the MAIDP are remounting seven historical works of performance by Marina Abramovic and Ulay. In so doing, we are bold enough to demonstrate what has long been suspected by the performance community worldwide–that we are all, now, Marina’s puppets.”
You can check out documentation from past events and read about future ones on LINK & PIN’s website. You can also check out Adriana’s performance work and curatorial practice here!