"Sitting with the Mountain" Thursday, April 12, 07. Offthemapgallery, Paul Couillard. Photo: Miklos Legrady
PAUL COUILLARD: Each day I will spend 8 hours at the gallery "performing", developing thresholds or situations that speak to experiences of loss and grief. I am on a hunt for images that open up possibilities for moving through and alleviating trauma. The work will evolve daily, with accumulating and dissipating evidence of my daily gestures. My interest lies in the idea of relieving trauma, not reliving it. How can we begin to address trauma without replicating it? What can alleviate the suffering associated with loss? How do we come to terms with the death of those we love? What can grief teach us?
STATEMENT: Performance art has been my primary medium for more than 20 years. To "live" images through my own body, and through time, is intrinsic to the way I understand, create and learn from the art-making process. For me, an idea cannot be fully understood until it is linked to a physical and temporal understanding: a "body knowledge". My performances often deal with personal and social traumas, which are evoked through inquiries that appear to test bodily limitations. While there is a large history of performance works that put the artist's body in peril, my intentions are never to expose myself to harm. I engage in situations that may be psychologically or physically challenging, but that can be safely withstood or borne by my body (which is most decidedly NOT superhuman or obsessively trained). The hallmarks of my process often include the following:
i) finding a way to do the task I have set with the body I have at the time of the performance;
ii) learning through doing, using duration and endurance as tools (while I always begin with a prescribed set of actions, I often choose to abandon them during the performance when an unanticipated solution or resolution presents itself through the act of doing, and through the process of being forced to confront my own areas of doubt, uncertainty and not-knowing in front of an audience)
iii) engaging in repetitive, ritualistic, or slow-moving actions that demand a constant engagement with questions of attunement and awareness of myself and my surroundings; and
iv) responsiveness to site or circumstances (the nature of the gallery space the unfinished walls and floor, the fact that it is unheated, the access to natural light, the architectural features will provide raw material that will guide how I construct daily situations)
BIO: Paul Couillard has been working as an artist, curator, and organizer since 1985, focusing on performance art with forays into video, installation, and holography. He has created over 100 solo and collaborative performance works in more than a dozen countries, often working with his partner Ed Johnson.
His work seeks to build community through explorations of our bodies as vessels of sensation, experience, knowledge and spirit. He has a particular interest in considering the shared borders of our separate existences, searching for a language that can convey the complex layers of personal history, cultural/social specificity and the notion of shared or universal experience. His solo practice is particularly concerned with duration and the effects of time.
Couillard has been the Performance Art Curator for Fado since its inception in 1993, and is also a founding co-curator of the 7a*11d International Performance Art Festival, both based in Toronto, Canada. He is currently editing Canadian Performance Art Legends, a series of books on senior Canadian performance artists. The first installment, La Dragu: the Living Art of Margaret Dragu was released in 2002. A second publication on the work of Tanya Mars will be released in 2007.
For more information contact
Antonia at: 416 642 2113
712 Lansdowne Avenue
The Back Building
Toronto, Canada M6H 3Y8
April 6 (opening reception) - 15: midnight - 8 am
April 16 (performance event) - 25: 8 am - 4 pm
April 26 (performance event) - May 5: 4 pm - midnight
From the Bloor/Lansdowne subway station, walk north to Wallace and then another halfblock. It is on the WEST side in the back building of a yellow storefront. NOTE: ONLY USE THE WEST SIDE NUMBERS AS A GUIDE. The east side numbers have no relationship to the west side numbers.