Séance with Extinct Species of Birds

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 7:00pm

Séance with Extinct Species of Birds
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
7 p.m.


Onsite Gallery
199 Richmond St. West

Led by exhibiting artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa

Limited availability; registration required
Tickets available on Onsite Gallery’s Facebook page as of Wednesday, January 23 at noon

Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa is an exhibiting artist in Onsite Gallery's Winter exhibition, How to Breathe Forever. Since 2012, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa has conducted intimate spiritist sessions. He describes them as follows, “I (and participants) try to contact the spirit world, specifically contact extinct species of birds. The project is a sort of imagination exercise.”  With no images or videos taken, Ramírez-Figueroa documents the experience through audio recordings, visual sound scores and drawings. Séances With Extinct Species of Birds is an ongoing project that prioritizes the supernatural, history, voice and the effect of human activity and climate change on birds, and asks— if we find a new way to listen can we hear birds, even extinct ones?

As a participant you will:

  • Participate in a séance
  • Consent to have the event’s audio recorded, which may include your voice as a participant, which will be exhibited in Onsite Gallery’s exhibition, How to Breathe Forever


How to Breathe Forever underlines the importance and interconnectedness of air, animals, coral, humans, insects, land, plants and water. The belief that everything in the universe has a place and deserves equal respect is the core of this exhibition and positions our relations with others — including the natural world — as active and reciprocal. The artwork invites you to consider a personhood that attentively collaborates and exchanges with all living things.


Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa was born in Guatemala City in 1978. He received a BFA in Media Arts from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver in 2006, and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008. He was also a postgraduate researcher at Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, the Netherlands in 2013. Working in drawing, performance, sculpture, and video, Ramírez-Figueroa explores the entanglement of history and form through the lens of his own displacement during and following Guatemala’s civil war of 1960–96. He has had solo exhibitions at Casa de América, Madrid (2011); Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart (2011); Gasworks, London (2015); and CAPC musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux (2017), and The New Museum, New York (2018). He has participated in the following group exhibitions: A History of Interventions, Tate Modern, London; Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (both in 2014); Lyon Biennial; The School of Nature and Principle, EFA Project Space, New York (both in 2015); São Paulo Biennial; and the Venice Biennale (2017). Ramírez-Figueroa lives and works in Berlin and Guatemala City.


Onsite Gallery is the flagship professional gallery of OCAD U and an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media. Visit our website for upcoming public events. The gallery is located at 199 Richmond St. W, Toronto, ON, M5V 0H4. Telephone: 416-977-6000, ext. 265. Opening hours are: Wednesdays from noon to 8 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Free admission.


Image: Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Concrete Poem Documentation of Bird Séances, 2011 to present, series of five digital prints on Epson coldpress watercolour paper, calligraphy by Lester Mead, 20” x 29.5” each. Courtesy of the artist.

Venue & Address: 
Onsite Gallery (199 Richmond St. West)
416-977-6000 x456
Image: Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Concrete Poem Documentation of Bird Séances, 2011 to present, series of five digital prints on E


David Bateman (writer/performer) in costume for performance piece, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre,1992
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 - 10:00am to 11:30am


During a two week residency in the OCAD Graduate Student Gallery, performance artist and painter David Bateman will be revisiting four of his performance pieces from the 1990’s. Beginning with the provocative sex/gender title I WANTED TO BE BISEXUAL BUT MY FATHER WOULDN’T LET ME (1992) the revisitation/interrogation begins with a large scale text painting influenced by Abstract Expressionism and Lyrical Expressionism, as well as the idea of absorption as it applies to artists as spectators and spectators as artists within the visual and performance arts.

In an attempt to re-consider a 30 year old performance piece (I Wanted To Be Bisexual But My Father Wouldn’t Let Me) - to interrogate the issues surrounding gender and sexuality in the writer/performers consciousness at the time, and to bring this together with a form of abstract/ lyrical expressionism in the visual arts https://www.ideelart.com/magazine/lyrical-abstraction and then to make a perhaps risky historical leap into Michael Fried’s notion of ‘Absorption and Theatricality’ in the paintings of Chardin (among others),I have begun to create a series of 28 foot long canvasses focusing on four formative performance works that I created in the last decade of the twentieth century; I Wanted To Be Bisexual But My Father Wouldn’t Let Me, What Dreadful Things To Say About Someone Who Has Just Paid For My Lunch, Self-Deprecation and other Niceties, and Betty Wyatt.

For purposes of a three week residency at the OCAD Graduate Student Gallery, I have begun the preparations for the first two ‘performance paintings’ as abstract [lyrical] expressionist “manifestations of an absorptive state, the image's absorption in itself, so to speak - that only happens to subsist. The result, paradoxically, is that stability and unchangingness are endowed to an astonishing degree with the power to conjure an illusion of imminent or gradual or even fairly abrupt change. (50, Absorption and Theatricality) By replacing the word image with the word text in the first line of Michael Fried’s concise definition of his reflections upon the effects of absorption in various paintings, I satisfy my own need to paint text as a way of bringing the spoken/performed words into another realm of expression and representation - text-based performance art as painted subject. Being this close to a large canvas over an extended period of time brings a kind of performed labour into the equation, analogous to the act of memorizing and performing - absorbing one’s self and one’s audience in a narrative dependent upon a kind of self-absorption through a decidedly theatricalized rendition of that self-absorption - and in the end moving beyond the ‘self’ through painting and into a realm of social query and consciousness regarding historic categories that have served to define, and at times limit, the bounds of sex and and gender.

1“The implications of Absorption and Theatricality extend well beyond painting and art criticism to the literature and philosophy of the period.”

The original performance was done on roller skates while wearing a stylized patio umbrella frock and reciting the memorized text (image above). The basic import of the half hour piece finds distilled summarization in a few lines;

you see, I never wanted to be a man, or a woman / because i love borders / crossing them, ignoring them / borders between countries / borders between sexualities (1992)

In the three decades following that period I have often gone back to the title as an effective seriocomic way in which to absorb - to draw the audience into the performance as early as their first experience with the title of the piece. But there has always been, each time I have momentarily reflected upon the depth and effectiveness of that title, a hesitation regarding how far I was able to go in performing the idea of an identity I desired - grappled with - but could never quite actualize in any fully realized manner. The Kinsey report (1953) - perhaps well intentioned - worsened the struggle with its emphasis on statistical foundations - only three years before I was born. Was my inability to self-actualize a product of my own limitations or the gendered limitations projected and absorbed/inscribed upon (and into) my body during particularly liberating yet frequently repressive moments in the history of sexuality. Obviously both. As Marjorie Garber states in her text Bisexuality -

Is bisexuality a "third kind" of sexual identity, between or beyond homosexuality and heterosexuality? Or is it something that puts in question the very concept of sexual identity in the first place? Why, instead of hetero-, homo-, auto-, pan-, and bisexuality, do we not simply say "sexuality"? And does bisexuality have something fundamental to teach us about the nature of human eroticism?

My performance piece addressed similar issues when I was in my mid thirties (1992). I incorporated images from popular culture - ranging from quotes integrated into the text from the plays Boys In The Band, Being At Home With Claude, and Les Liaisons Dangereuse. A triumvirate of nationality (Canadian, American, French Canadian) finds expression in both the text and the costume (image above). Now, in 2018, I examine these issues again, in my early sixties, through painting - through a kind of lyrical expressionism that transplants “nationalized” colour and abstract image into a palette of shape and form - amorphous, lyric, and layered - where the painted textual images of a profoundly misunderstood form of sexual behaviour finds yet another playful area of expression to take on new form and function - and to perhaps find new/revisited meaning.

As Foucault so simply, and sardonically, put it, with an eye for amusement regarding the ways in which we have muddled through a fascination with the categorization of sexual identity -

“People will be surprised at the eagerness with which we went about pretending to rouse from its slumber a sexuality which everything-our discourses, our customs, our institutions, our regulations, our knowledges-was busy producing in the light of day and broadcasting to noisy accompaniment.” ― Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction

David Bateman, Artist in Residence: Graduate Gallery OCAD, July 2018

Venue & Address: 
Graduate Gallery OCAD University 205 Richmond St. W. Toronto, ON

The Acker Award Toronto 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

The Acker Award Toronto 2017

The Acker Awards were named after Kathy Acker, performance artist, punk poet, novelist, playwright with a strong reputation as a sex positive feminist, who in her life and work exemplified risk taking and uncompromising dedication that identifies the true pioneering artist.

The Acker Awards was founded and initiated by Clayton Paterson, visual artist and community organizer, and Alan Kaufman, poet and writer, in San Francisco and in New York, 2013.

The Award is given to artists, often under-looked, of all disciplines for their groundbreaking, unconventional, cutting edge and community oriented accomplishments.

Endorsing the important cultural value and independent nature of the Award, and at the suggestion of Clayton Paterson, Toronto based artist Istvan Kantor took upon the task to bring the award to Canada. Together with Eldon Garnet, artist and writer, and Kitsuné Soleill, artist and performer, they formed the Acker Awards Toronto in March 2017.

After much deliberation, from every possible artistic discipline, 17 artists have been selected to receive the 2017 Acker Awards Toronto. Their names will be announced at the Awards ceremony generously hosted at The Theatre Centre, October 23, 7-10 pm, 1115 Queen Street West.

The main goal of the Acker Awards Toronto is to raise the spirit of our artists in support of their often-unacknowledged work and to pay tribute to their exceptional creative efforts in their communities.

The Acker Award Toronto is strenuously independent of any institution. The Award represents fellow artists appreciating fellow artists’ outstanding achievements.


Venue & Address: 
The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen Street West Toronto, ON
Black and White image of a woman