Your Canada

Inco gnito: Well-known artists experimenting with new forms unshackled by their reputations

A leading local artist has chosen the centre of Toronto, across from Nathan Phillips Square in front of old city hall, for his provocative hybrid self-installation/performance art. In the stylized pose of a homeless street beggar crouched on the sidewalk, he holds up a Tim Hortons coffee cup, a silent scream directed at the systemic injustices of Canadian class society. For those familiar with Tim Hortons culture, the rolled up rim of the cup painfully suggests yet another missed opportunity to make good. At a deeper level, the tension between the sleeping body and the outstretched unmoving hand begging for help capture the unresolved tension between hope and despair, symbolizing the deep ruptures and elisions fracturing the ligatures that in the past proffered a precarious structure for our urban lives. The ambiguity of the posture is certainly not a product of chance, but part of the deeper layers of existential essence to which the artist alludes, though evidently in a non-essentialist manner. The performance piece has been timed to coincide with the bicycle frames installation of Ai Weiwei. The artist, who like all participants in this series, wants to remain anonymous, shares with the famous Chinese artist a commitment to political activism, and like Ai, is fearless in the pursuit of his agenda.


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