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Artist Statement

Warren Arcand — Melting Point: An Amusement

There’s an image of the individual informed by the western movement from the religious to the secular – where the Individual is roughly like the Galilean shift of the centre from the earth to the sun – also a sense where this individual is a smuggler of sorts, crossing and recrossing national boundaries, bearing the highest ideals of the nation while at the same time representing the direst crisis of the old regimes – and still, at this last stage, the nations we love best and most have about them this whiff of something unsavoury – a Hapsburg hangover...

Segue to a Milan Kundera set of observations regarding the willful erasure of a nation by another – he speaks of memory and forgetting, of the effects of totalitarianism...

Segue, with these two notions held up to a thought of the Aboriginal experience in Canada – hold it up to the things the newest Gov. Gen. said about the solitudes … the third solitude, that is the Abo experience within the idea of Canada (both ideas – the Abo and the Canadian – must be conceived as multiple, and heterogenic, really) – so little is known of that relationship – there are the popular or common or ready readings of these things which suggests the story is done – but no – and one’s general agitation is part of that – or a stillness – also a sense or sign that the work is yet to be done...

So an image of a nation that couldn’t or wouldn’t or didn’t think of allowing multiple players from co-articulating it – or maybe it was all too soon, the establishment of that thing which is still twitching into liveliness before our very eyes...


Arcand in Superchannel (performance, grunt Gallery, Vancouver, 2004)
photo: Merle Addison

I’m actually quite an optimist...

So, what of identity in the face of a negative desire (that negative desire that would have chased the Abo into various oblivions) – what of that persistence of identity? Why does that guy keep bubbling to the surface? What is that insistence? Why are we still, or why am I still saying these things? What the heck is up with that?

So, Performance suggestion: an action in a lard wig – it looks like a powdered wig, it looks like an enlightenment image – of a nation state en route (Looks a little like something Laurence Sterne wears – Tristram Shandy?) And, so arrayed, I engage in a set of actions regarding desire and identity - the wig melts and even cooks a bit, releasing aromas into the room, hot awful odors, sweet delicious odours of a body in heat – so moving from a skilled representation of an individual’s enlightenment and its melting point – clear rivulets of molten lard running across my face, over my body – a weeping, a melting, a disfiguring or refiguring – and under this flavoured duress, a pantomime of becoming – an image of individuation – and a puppet play of sorts, a dance of the Abo perhaps – an Amusement regarding nations, naming, the making or modeling of an individual, what it is or isn’t – and maybe finally arriving at an appreciation that much is at stake at making Individuals because it entails making a claim on the world – a potentially totalitarian reproduction...

And what is the way out? Follow the bouncing desire (following D and G and their talk of productive desire)...

Do you follow?

Warren Arcand, September 2005



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