CURATED BY JESS DOBKIN
"Let these be the languages spoken by bodies: to laugh, to cry, to suspend oneself otherwise through acts of perseverance and devotion, poised on the knife-edge of a permanent scream"
November 16th, 2011 a group of internationally acclaimed performance artists will come together in an historic Toronto location to entertain and enlighten us about our bodies and the complex ways in which we commit ourselves to various social, physical, and cultural structures. Taking a queer perspective on the idea of ‘commitment,’ and the various ways in which the word can be perceived, the evening promises to be an exciting interrogation of alternative, provocative, and proactive views of our bodies and our selves in a global environment that increasingly puts the emphasis upon impersonal technological forms of intimacy that feign a kind of intimate encounter yet move us further away form actual bodies, actual commitments, and actual intimacies, than ever before.
And what better place to stage this sexy and exciting venture than the former site of the historic Club Baths, now a fabulous playground for swinging singles called Oasis Aqualounge. So don’t miss this amazing event!
A LITTLE HISTORIC OVER VIEW AND INTRODUCTION TO COMMITMENT ISSUES AND THE OASIS AQUALOUNGE AND THE CLUB BATHS:
‘Committed to Cleanliness’
1979 - my first visit to a bathhouse
Ethel Merman is belting out showtunes to a disco beat
I wander the halls looking for a close encounter of the queer kind
marking the beginning of a lifelong commitment to casual sex
I was making a heartfelt promise to promiscuity.
1981 - ‘Operation Soap’ - four Toronto bath houses raided
the arrest of 300 men
Margaret Atwood defends the baths publicly
a new era in gay and lesbian politics is born
the Club Baths, after a prolonged and costly legal battle
carries on for two decades as a gay male bath house
2000 - the Club Baths becomes the site of the lesbian Pussy Palace event
which is raided by Toronto police consisting of almost all male police officers
2010 - the Club Baths closes and Oasis Aqualounge opens later that year
2011 - November 16th - the Oasis Aqualounge, in existence for over a year, as an erotic playground for ‘swingers,’ hosts Commitment Issues
November 16th, 2011, marks a very special event in the ongoing commitment to one of Toronto’s oldest and most erogenous zones. Toronto Performance artist Jess Dobkin, the curator of Commitment Issues, has organized what promises to be a truly subversive evening that will include the work of five internationally known performers who will occupy various areas of a three floor Victorian mansion, providing spectators with an exciting program of site specific work ranging from steam rooms, to locker areas, hot tubs, swimming pools, and an actual rehearsal, supervised by Toronto artist Kitty Neptune, by a group committed to the art of pole dancing.
ARTIST KITTY NEPTUNE
Dobkin describes the event as a kind of interrogation of the use of the word ‘commitment’ and the ways in which the queer community, despite interventions from homophobic sources, has taken part in very committed social, cultural, and political forms over the years. In her curatorial statement she talks about commitment as -
“an exceptional word, often used in varying and oppositional contexts . . . an expression of agency and autonomy . . . a state of consignment or confinement wherein liberty is denied. We might commit to a relationship or to winning the big game, but we can also be committed to prison or a mental institution.”
In an era of same sex marriage when opposing fronts defend and question the need for legal commitment to what has been, for eons, a largely heterosexual privilege/ commitment, the artists Dobkin has brought together will provide a timely commentary upon the ways in which we relate to one another as continually evolving queer bodies. Located in a venue that has been attacked historically for its commitment to basic sexual freedom, Commitment Issues represents an exciting development in the history of queer body politics. Artists will explore a variety of areas ranging from Dana Michel’s Jack, a movement piece as a form of discipline and ritual, to the transgenderd experience of Heather Cassil’s Teresias, pushing her body to extremes that interrogate “issues of social power and control.”
The event can be viewed as a spectator sport wherein audiences meander through an intriguing spectacle with the option/possibility of interaction, and as Dobkin urges at the beginning of her curatorial statement -
Locker and towel service provided.
Bring your bathing suit or birthday suit.
Commitment Issues: An Evening of Performance Art
Wednesday November 16, 7-10 pm (featuring 6 performances over 3 hours)
Oasis Aqualounge, 231 Mutual Street, Toronto
$15 admission / $12 students/seniors/underemployed
Admission restricted to patrons 19+ years of age
Processing: Artists’ Panel & Reception
Thursday November 17, 7:00-9:30 pm Studio Theatre
University of Toronto
4 Glen Morris Street, Toronto
FREE / open to al