I started to get excited for W.O.R.K.S. Among the Easels when I overheard Clive Robertson talk about guitar smashing.
“It takes 8 minutes. It always smashes the exact same way.”
Volunteers and artists who arrived at Royal Canadian Legion early had plenty of time to speculate on the future of the musical instruments, beer bottles, and other objects laid out neatly inside a grid of green painter’s tape on the floor.
W.O.R.K.S. Among the Easels Programme
- W.O.R.K.S., Allison Knowles’ Shoes of Your Choice (1963)
- W.O.R.K.S., Captive Audience (1972)
- Paul Woodrow, Bookmusic (1973)
- Johanna Householder & Terrance Houle, Eric Anderson Opus 1001 (c. 1964)
- Matt Rogalsky, Christian Wolff’s Stones (1968-74)
- Clive Robertson, John Danvers’ Stagnant Water (1973)
- Johanna Householder, Video excerpt: 8 Legged Dancing from Possible Futures (1976) & Excerpt from Janice Hladki’s A Party (1977)
- Terrance Houle with Dan Wilson, Not Sure I Have a Title (2012)
- W.O.R.K.S., Stuart Marshall’s Tape Loop Delay Grid (1971)
- Paul Woodrow, Shoe and Candle Piece (2012)
- Clive Robertson, Robin Page’s Kicking a Guitar Around the Block (1962-5)
Original W.O.R.K.S. members Robertson and Paul Woodrow, along with collaborators Johanna Householder, Matt Rogalsky and Terrance Houle, recreated a selection of infamous and playful performances from the 1960s and 70s, both their own and other artists’, and performed several new works.
The evening began with two shoe-related pieces. First, audience members were invited onstage to talk about their shoes. In Captive Audience, artists collected the audience’s shoes and arranged them on stage, so if anyone wanted to leave, they’d have to enter the performance space to publicly retrieve them. Artist Randy Gledhill, Executive Director and Curator of Vancouver’s LIVE Performance Biennale (catch him Wednesday night at the Old Y), refused to relinquish his shoes, and was nearly pulled onto the floor when Robertson yanked them off his feet.
During her reenactment of A Party, Householder crushed All Dressed flavour Ruffles with the heel of her black pump. We learned at the beginning of the evening she calls these her “Maybe Shoes”, and has performed in them regularly since her work with The Clichettes in the 1980s.
When Houle took the stage with a big drum and Dan Wilson on electric guitar, ACAD Professor Rita McKeough began to stuff bits of tissue in her ears in anticipation of extreme volume–which Houle delivered, as he drummed and sang traditional songs arranged as metal.
The evening’s finale was a reenactment of Robin Page’s classic interactive work Kicking a Guitar Around the Block. After Robertson noodled a toy electric guitar, a didactic black and white video explained what would happen. After distributing plastic bags to collect the guitar’s bits and splinters, Robertson coaxed the crowd out the Legion’s back door. To everyone’s surprise, the guitar only made it 100 feet down the sidewalk before an over-enthusiastic kick launched it onto some nearby hoarding, attracting the concerned attention of several construction workers. The full garbage bags were then taken inside and the pieces arranged in a neat line on the floor.