CS Stage will present HUMAN MEASURE from Cassils in October
Canadian Stage will bring back the CS Platform program this year with HUMAN MEASURE, by internationally acclaimed visual and performance artist Cassils, on stage at the Berkeley Street Theater from October 27-29. CS Platform programming is designed to introduce audiences to some of the most cutting-edge artists in the world. artists who push the boundaries of the art form.
“CS Platform is a crucial way for Canadian Stage to contribute to our city’s performance ecology by showcasing some of today’s most important and adventurous artists, and Cassils is a definitive way to reinvigorate the program.” said Canadian Stage Artistic Director Brendan Healy. “The material for all of Cassils’ work is their own bodies, which they expose to great physical exertion and danger. There is a powerful exploration of gender and violence in the work and a critical awareness that trans visibility can also become an opportunity for surveillance and risk.”
HUMAN MEASURE, Cassils’ debut album in contemporary dance, had its world premiere at Manchester’s HOME arts center late last year as part of a major retrospective of the artist’s work. The work is produced in collaboration with renowned American choreographer Jasmine Albuquerque, composer Kadet Kuhne, lighting designer Christopher Kuhl and a team of five trans and non-binary performers.
Against an unprecedented backdrop of US-based anti-trans legislation, HUMAN MEASURE asks: how do we manifest empowerment, sensuality, and self-actualization in a society that is actively trying to erase us? Insisting on plurality and avoiding readability, HUMAN MEASURE straddles dance and the history of photography. Deliberately designed to be difficult to see, the work is staged in the low levels of red light found in photographic darkrooms. The viewer’s physiology is diverted as “after images” are etched into the audience’s retina by a huge flashing light box, resulting in the active development of one of the world’s largest cyanotypes, on stage in real time.
With a movement rooted in kinesiology, martial arts, sports science and personal safety protocols, Cassils reinterprets the paintings of Anthropometries by Yves Klein. Unlike the models in Klein’s work who acted like passive “human paintbrushes,” the performers in HUMAN MEASURE wield the double-edged sword of representation in a collective process of autonomous work.
Cassils (they/them), originally from Montreal and now residing in New York/Los Angeles, is one of the most compelling artists working today. Their work has been featured around the world, including in ongoing exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Nikolaj Kunstal in Copenhagen, and the Montalvo Arts Center in California. Cassils has gained worldwide recognition by using her own body as the material and protagonist of her performances. Working in the fields of live performance, sculpture, photography, sound design and film, Cassils contemplates the story(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle and power.
BEYOND THE SCENE
HUMAN MEASURE’s work also extends beyond the stage. With support from the National Creation Fund, Cassils offers artist workshops for their company and Toronto-based trans and non-binary artists led by Kai Cheng Thom, MSc. Thom is a somatic coach, consultant and conflict resolution practitioner working at the intersection of mind, body and collective soul. Building community and solidarity across international borders Kai will curate transformational experiences designed to embolden and empower its participants.
Additionally, to ensure that the work serves the community for which it is made, Cassils and Canadian Stage have organized a number of free tickets to be donated to SKETCH, a community arts enterprise engaging young queer people who are living homeless or in margin and navigate poverty. . After the closing party, a discussion with Cassils’ company and True Lives Consulting will highlight the work of Uplift Kitchen, a food security initiative created to serve Black, Indigenous and racialized communities in and around Toronto. If HUMAN MEASURE is about problematizing trans visibility, Cassils aims to highlight local initiatives aimed at concrete actions within the community that improve the lives of trans people.
For those interested in seeing more of Cassils’ work in Toronto, their work Advertisement: Homage to Benglis is currently on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario (until September 25) as part of the Blurred Boundaries exhibition. : Queer Visions in Canadian Art. The work was recently acquired by the AGO, being the artist’s first work to enter a public art collection in Canada.
Tickets for HUMAN MEASURE range from $29 to $89. Single tickets are now available on canadianscene.com. This production runs from October 27 to October 29, 2022, with performances at 8:00 p.m.
CASSILS is a transgender artist who makes his own body the material and the protagonist of his performances. Cassils’ art contemplates the history of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle, survival and empowerment. For Cassils, performance is a form of social sculpture: Inspired by the idea that bodies are formed in relation to forces of power and social expectations, Cassils’ work investigates historical contexts to examine the present moment.
Cassils has had recent solo exhibitions at HOME Manchester, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NYC; Institute of Contemporary Art, AU; Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts; School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Bemis Center, Omaha; MU Eindhoven, Netherlands.
They are recipients of a 2020 Banff Center for the Arts Fleck Residency, a Princeton Lewis Artist Fellowship Finalist (2020), a Villa Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (2019), a Artist Award (2018), a Guggenheim Fellowship and a COLA Fellowship (2017) and a Creative Capital Award (2015). They have received the first International ANTI Festival Award for Living Art, the California Community Foundation Grant, the MOTHA Award (Museum of Transgender Hirstory) and numerous Visual Artist Grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. Their work has been featured in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Artforum, Hyperallergic, Wired, The Guardian, TDR, Performance Research, Art Journal and has been the subject of the Cassils monograph published by MU Eindhoven 92015) and their new Solutions catalog, is published by the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, TX (2020). Cassils’ work has recently been acquired by the Victoria Albert Museum in London, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the Leslie Lohman Museum.
ABOUT THE CANADIAN SCENE
Canadian Stage is one of the country’s leading contemporary performing arts organizations. A collision of disciplines and cultures, Canadian Stage reflects the dynamism and complexity of Canada and is a vital artistic force locally, nationally and internationally. Over its more than thirty year history, Canadian Stage has employed thousands of artists and developed and produced hundreds of new productions. Many of the plays created by Canadian Stage have been awarded and nominated for Canada’s most prestigious literary and artistic honors, including the Governor General’s, Chalmers’ and Dora Mavor Moore awards. Throughout the theater season, nearly 100,000 spectators attend performances and workshops in its three Toronto venues.