In residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2014, Ame Henderson and her collaborators researched the gallery’s history of live events, examining how performance is programmed, organized, collected and archived within the institution. The project culminated in a 12-hour durational public rehearsal, as part of Nuit Blanche 2014, in which the group engaged a range of material and nonmaterial archival traces together, to consider how performance practice is remembered both materially and via collective memory.

The project used a public rehearsal process as a platform to revisit these histories by reading and working with archival materials and anecdotal accounts shared by artists with a history of presentation at the AGO and by AGO staff members past and present. Rehearsal, a common approach to creation in the performing arts, is the main strategy employed here to consider the history of performance. In-progress, unfinished, and most often not visible to the public, rehearsal is a time-based labour that reworks and rethinks an eventual performance’s concepts and materials as they come to form.

For this project, public rehearsal become a productive approach to a (mostly) forgotten performance history. Through the emergent form of rehearsal, the performers attempted to rematerialize traces of past performance events in order to open up a space for consideration and appreciation (for both artists and visitors) with a purposefully non-definitive and incomplete outcome. The working-through remains at the threshold of performance, in the interstice between the public and the private, the visible and the invisible.

Concept and Direction: Ame Henderson

Created in collaboration with Erin Brubacher, Niomi Anna Cherney, Katie Ewald, Marie Claire Forté, Tina Fushell, Ame Henderson, sandra Henderson, Kate Holden, Brendan Jensen, Adam Kinner, Jeremy McCormick, Bee Pallomina, Liz Peterson, Simon Portigal, Evan Webber, and Christopher Willes

AGO support: Lesley Ashton, Gregory Baszun, Patrick Colosimo, Cliodna Cussen, Syvalya Elchen, Andrew Hunter, Zoe Johnson, Kathleen McLean, Victoria Mohr-Blakeney, Marilyn Nazar, Johnson Ngo, Sean O’Neill, Angelo Pedari, Paola Poletto, Donald Rance, Denise Roberts, Matthew Scott, Jim Shedden, Bojana Stancic, Maia Sutnik, Dean Tomlinson, Georgiana Uhlyarik, Syrus Ware and the AGO Youth Council, Danny Winchester

In conversation with: Miriam Adams, Anna Blewchamp, Amy Bowring, Elizabeth Chitty, Shannon Cochrane, Margaret Dragu, Lily Eng, Louise Garfield, Michael Glassbourg, Janice Hladki, Johanna Householder, Kyra Lober, Terrill Maguire, Jennifer Mascall, Kate McCabe, Philip Monk, Selma Odom, Lynn Rotin, Kim Simon, Susan Swan and others.

Production: Public Recordings and Art Gallery of Ontario

Public rehearsals: August 27, September 10 & 24, October 2, October 4-5

Photo: Erin Brubacher