A veteran photojournalist on the Toronto arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.

NOTE: The reason there was just one entry for the month of May 2015 was due putting the blog on a brief hiatus while dealing with a urgent family matter at the time. – JB

EDITION #44 - WEEK OF MAY 4-10, 2015

Continental Undivide

David Byrne, the Copycat Academy and Jane Bunnett contribute to the ninth annual Luminato arts festival

Clockwise: Longueil, Québec’s Les Eclipses colour guard team from Contemporary Color, electronic music legend Morton Subotnick, playwright/performer Daniel MacIvor and Honduran world music star Aurelio Martinez make dates to attend Luminato 2015.

Luminato Festival 2015 Preview

Being of no coincidence that the upcoming Toronto PanAm Games in July playing an influence on this year’s Luminato, Artistic Director Jorn Weisbrodt has crafted out a heavily-dominated theme on the Americas from varying acts and artistry from the Artic Circle to Terra del Fuego from June 19 to the 28 that he hopes will bring a further understanding from the audience to the popular multidisciplinary festival of free and ticketed events.

“I believe that the arts can touch and move us,” said Weisbrodt, “can change the course of our heart and mind in ways that reason and reality often cannot…This is what Luminato Festival is all about: creating adventurous art and ideas in adventurous places; bringing people together, making the moment special and taking the ‘everyday’ out of everyday life.”

Some of the highlights include El pasado es un animal grostesco (The Past is a Grotesque Animal) from Argentinean dramaturge Mariano Pensotti back from last year’s Cineastas about the fragmentations of love, adulthood and economic collapse effecting a group of twenty-something couples in 1999 Buenos Aires at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East; June 19-21); Unsound Toronto by Mat Schulz and Malgorzata Plysa at the decommissioned Hearn Generating Station at the Port Lands (June 19-20; 440 Unwin Avenue) of a amorphous touring music festival of electronica and experimental genres making its Canadian debut with artists like ambient band Stars of the Lid, Chilean-German mixer Atom and Australian multimedia artist Robin Fox doing a deconstructed pop/laser show collaboration to 82-year old techno pioneer Morton Subotnick performing his legendary 1967 album Silver Apples Of The Moon accompanied on a live videofeed by Germany’s Lillevan.

The 7 Monologues mini-festival of new stage works June 20 to 21 at Harbourfront’s Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queen’s Quay West) and Harbourfront Centre Theatre (235 Queen’s Quay West) by Charlotte Ramping with French cellist Sonia Weider-Atherton adapting the music of Benjamin Britten to Sylvia Plath’s poetry in The Night Dances; Who Killed Spalding Grey?, a tribute to the late American actor/monologist a decade after his suicidal death by Canadian renaissance man Daniel MacIvor; the spoken opera of SPAM by Buenos Aires’ Rafael Spregelburd on memory; The Referendum read by Antonio Skármeta on the Chilean 1988 plebiscite on extending the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that later was used to inspire the 2012 Academy Award-nominated film No; folksy lo-fi storytellers Christine Fellows and Shary Boyle presenting Spell to Bring Lost Creatures Home to the art of personal heartbreak shown in Dolor Exquisito (Exquisite Pain) with Mexico’s Maricel Alverez and Emilio Garcia Wehbi.

Other acts include Cuba’s contemporary Malpaso Dance Company at Fleck Dance Theatre June 24 to 26; art collective Blast Theory’s film My One Demand on unrequited love stories set in Toronto (June 25-27); R. Murray Schafer’s 1980 Apocalypsis consisting of 1,000 performances about chaos in one two-hour epic at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front Street East, June 26-28); Copycat Academy returning discussing the art of Canadian auteur David Cronenberg in three talks regarding contemporary realism, cannibalism and ritual anthropophagy at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West; June 22, 26 & 28); the Toronto Symphony Orchestra doing Late Night with the TSO playing Holst’s The Planets, Opus 32 June 26 at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street) and freebie Orchestra Karaoke June 19 at the Festival Hub (David Pecault Square, 55 John Street) and for food lovers, A Celebration of Indigenous Pan American Food on June 21 at the Hub.

Music plays at the Hub with Mexico’s Quique Escamilla and Los de Abajo (June 22), local jazz heroine Jane Bunnett with her all-Cuban women ensemble Maqueque and Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble (June 23); Québécois acts Socalled and Orkestar Kriminal for A Salute to St. John Baptiste (June 21), Caribbean Calypso with Honduran Garifuna star Aurelio Martinez and Trinidad’s Kobo Town (June 25), Eljuri and Las Cafeteras (June 26) and a Brazilian Block Party featuring Roda de Samba, Flavia Nascimento and Mundo Livre (June 27).

And since it all can’t be artsy, Luminato also presents the world premiere flagship commission production of David Byrne’s Contemporary Color at the Air Canada Centre (June 22-23; 40 Bay Street) where pop stars sync to high school colour guard teams from ten high schools across North America perform with Nelly Furtado, Kelis, Lucius, Devonté Hynes, Beastie Boys’ alumni Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz and keyboardist Money Mark and the former Talking Heads leader himself in a 100-minute spectacle of flag-flipping, sabre-spinning and sequin-studded motion of sport, music, dance and culture.

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Tickets now on sale. For more information, call 416-368-4849 or visit luminato.com.

Junction Functions and Moving Pictures

CONTACT Photography Festival 2015 Reviews

Part 1 of a 2-part series

Reiner Riedler: The Scene Unseen

Canadian Film Library, TIFF Lightbox, 350 King Street West, 4th Floor

To June 14; Tuesday-Sunday 12-5 p.m. (Thursdays 12-7 p.m.)

From the archives of Berlin’s Deutsche Kinemathek’s film library – much like our TIFF Lightbox – is Reiner Riedler’s The Scene Unseen of just some of the thousands and thousands of preserved reels of cinematic greats to lesser-known titles where selected rolls of 3.5-centremetre film strips go for a optical-art abstraction of sorts when light beneath these reels get passed under, to give them a different perspective and position.

If one could give them a description of looking like vinyl records, there’s two examples that being 1984’s Dorian Grey Im Spiegel der Boulevardpress, the 1931 Marlene Dietrich film Blue Angel and pitch-black Sissi of 1955, whereas 1968’s Neun Leben Hat die Katze has that honey brown hue and amber centrifuge; Felleni’s Fred and Ginger spreads an uneven triangle through a red ochre base; the expressiveness of silver-grey ripples shimmers through Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours: Blue or the light and dark purplish concentration of Berlin Blues from 1988.

For a gothic science-fiction masterwork, Ridley Scott’s Alien is incredibly light, making it a good guessing game of what key scenes are involved to the eclectic bands of red and white etch within the dark browns and yellows in Fitzcarraldo. Or if you want to stick to the real op-art eye tricks, Casablanca is the standout. The only sticking point I have with this is that there’s no dates involved on some like Alice in Wonderland (which version?), would have been a big help.

At least TIFF puts an interesting companion piece with materials from their Film Reference Library from the tools of the film editing trade of the pros to amateur film stock that proliferated from the post-World War I era to the late 1990s when digital took over. Memorabilia from stuff prior to the VCR, DVD and digital download revolutions are rare sightings like 8- and 16-millimetre rolls like Chaplin’s silent works and Jacques Cousteau’s 1964 Academy Award-winning documentary World Without Sun.

The best piece that sums up The Scene Unseen is the circa 1955 Film Prayer sheet by an unknown author on the care and usage of such film stock distributed by Canada’s Crawley Films like a instruction manual that ends like this: “I am a delicate ribbon of film – misuse me and I disappoint thousands; cherish me and I delight and instruct the world.”

Isabelle Wenzel: Figures & Models of Surfaces

Metro Hall Corridor along King Street West and John Street

To May 31; 24/7

Whether you can call this a parody or parable about sexual objectification of the human body, German artist Isabelle Wenzel puts on a display of thirteen large panels near Metro Hall’s corners of King and John Street for Figures & Models of Surfaces of self-portraits of her legs in juxtapositions with or without objects are acrobatically comical in one sense, but it also brings the aforementioned point across from the camera eye that stems a lot of emotional feedback and the rush feel of time-release photography of the act of performance art and surrealism on the identity of the self.

Linda Nagy/Brian Anderson/Nathan Hiller/Hugh McBride/Tammy Hoy: Group Exhibit

Latitude 44 Gallery, 2900 Dundas Street West

To May 31; Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

In the annual collective exhibition in The Junction area gallery, the gang is back with some new and some repeated thematic works, starting with Nathan Hilller’s untitled series of dancers hold a lot of grace and poise in colour and black and white pieces, bordering with a range of emos from the subjects being demure to sultry in classical to modern dance poses; and Brian Anderson continues to capture rural Ontario with the Fall Fair series being a colourful bunch of the staple basic county fair that still remain part of the community’s social and cultural scene from midway rides, games and eats with a grit of digital grain infused in each shots and the black/white Georgian Bay Shore quartet of shots of lakeshore scenes with boulders and rock in (near-)submerged moments of low tidal pools offer that kind of quiet serenity.

Tammy Hoy returns with several photos of a Liechtenstein castle etched in metal are fitting examples to this medium that doesn’t get mentioned much, let alone seen; Hugh McBride captures Toronto nightlife from late-night eateries, cafés and laundromats that have some character but feels very ordinary and linda o. nagy focuses on lost items found around The Junction, mainly gloves, tries to place itself about identity and home tends to aim for being homey and plain-minded.

Moe Laverty: Variety & Convenience

Pandemonium, 2920 Dundas Street West

To May 31; Monday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday-Friday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Seven photos of the convenience store that is so part of the urban landscapes of the world Moe Laverty shows in Variety & Convenience done on Epson Enhanced Matt on formcore manages to bleed out some grain to give them some emphasis, almost cartoon-like even, of some Toronto (and one Peterborough) corner stores keeps a pedestrian, if simple humbleness.

Nicola Woods: Arbor Vitae (Tree of Life)

Articulations, 2829 Dundas Street West

To May 31; Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 12-5 p.m.

Illuminated photos on light boxes add a sense of mysticism and fantasy by Nicola Woods in the Arbor Vitae series is an engaging exhibit in this art supply store-cum-gallery space filling out these wooded structures of either silhouetted branches to give some sense of suspense to the more often colourful representations she makes to give it a little magic in how trees of all forms remain a precious source to the existence of humanity that gives much, yet receives little appreciation from ourselves at times.

Jim Blomfield: Forever – In Trust

West Toronto Paint & Wallpaper, 2975 Dundas Street West

To May 31; Monday-Wednesday 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday-Friday 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Taking photos of UNESCO-designated colonial architecture of the Netherlander Antillean island state of Curaçao’s buildings in its capital Willemstad, Jim Blomfield’s theme of superimposition of clouds adds a touch of rustic to his black and white Forever – In Trust series, says something in these fibre-based silver gelatin prints. However, this theme on the connection of these buildings, the environment and the responsibility of the people to care for them sounds a bit hokey in concept, yet well-meaning.

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NEXT: Part 2 –Photography in the Junction continued, Women in Rock and more. CONTACT 2015 runs through May 31. Most venues are FREE. For information, call 416-539-9595 or visit scotiabankcontactphoto.com.

Cirque’s Avatar-based TORUK takes shape

The Québec neo-circus launches visionary SF blockbuster into arenas this fall

Left-right: Performers rehearse at Cirque du Soleil’s International Headquarters studios in Montréal for TORUK – The First Flight, preparing to take the Avatar-based adventure for a lengthy world tour starting this November.

Theatre Preview

While Canadian director James Cameron toils with the next installment to his science-fiction epic Avatar currently in preproduction, Cirque du Soleil announced the live production based on the blockbuster film, TORUK – The First Flight, will be launched in arenas across North America starting this November as part of a worldwide tour in order to build momentum for the second and third films, now set for release in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Cirque’s first-ever adaptation production from a work of film, far apart from their musical-inspired tributes from the Beatles’LOVE, Elvis Presley’s Viva ELVIS to the two Michael Jackson shows THE IMMORTAL World Tour and Las Vegas residency show ONE; was created with a deal made before the first Avatar hit the silver screen with a visit by Cirque President/CEO Daniel Lamarre in Cameron’s editing room six years ago on the said project and immediately a vision was born betwixt them.

Already with a travelling exhibit planned for next year and a theme park attraction set to open at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom section in 2017, Cameron’s extraterrestrial juggernaut continues to roll with the Montréal-based entertainment company’s involvement as created and directed by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, who have worked with Cirque previously such as 2004’s Midnight Sun, the highly successful 2006-2008 arena show DELIRIUM and the “Man in The Mirror” segment of Michael Jackson ONE, as well as other works based on Canadian animation legend Norman McLaren to tales of Orpheus and Beauty and the Beast with their unique brand of multimedia theatricals through their company Lemieux Pilon 4D Art.

Set about three thousand years prior to the events of Avatar, TORUK will centre around the eponymous giant red and orange-winged great leonopteryx flying predator species central to the Na’vi society and culture of identity, destiny and interconnectedness of their Pandora homeworld that only a very few can ride upon as one brave Na’vi warrior will attempt to make tsaheylu (“bond”) with and become the very first Toruk Makto – Rider of the Last Shadow –  in a time of great need.

Director of Creation Neilson Vignola (centre) observes and advises at a rehearsal at Cirque’s IHQ in Montréal as creators/directors Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon (far right) look on for their latest arena touring production,TORUK – The First Flight , based on James Cameron’s 2009 science-fiction adventure hit Avatar.

Aiding the directors in this production are some Cirque veterans that involves costumer and makeup designer Kym Barrett who worked on TOTEM and The Matrix trilogy, longtime composers Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard a.k.a. Bill & Bob to score the show and Germaine Guillemot as acrobatic performance designer who worked on Cirque’s Jackson shows and recent touring show KURIOS. But there’s some newcomers onboard with choreographers Tuan Le and Tan Loc Nguyen, who cut their teeth in their native Vietnam with Tan Loc as a choreographer, actor and dancer working in the country’s famed water puppetry art form with the Ho Chi Minh City Puppet Theater and founder of the Ho Chi Minh City Dance Festival and Tuan Le’s experience as a juggler in cabaret shows across Vietnam, Europe, the United States and for Cirque.

Another newbie to the Cirque family is Patrick Martel, a Quebecois master puppet designer bringing 20 years of experience and is excited to be part of TORUK, describing it as being “even more amazing than I could ever have imagined. What I like most about my job is giving life to an inanimate object. We get to create characters on the drawing board, some of them [that have] never existed before in the Pandora Universe,” he said. “We’ll be testing out a lot of new things like control mechanisms, manufacturing techniques and materials [with the props]. What’s unique to this show is that we’re adapting a world with which people are already familiar [with].

“Some puppets have a more than respectable size,” Martel continues. “One of them really stands out by virtue of its size. This is a huge character in the show [and a] intrinsic part of the show’s narrative. This character simply cannot be avoided. It’s going to be huge, it’s a reverse string puppet [and] it will be handled from the bottom instead of from the top. That’s going to be quite the challenge [as] it’s never really been done before or at least, never in this way.”

As of this writing, no set dates have been confirmed for Toronto but it looks like it might swing through here at least around the summer of 2016 (pending) after its preview run in Lafayette, Louisiana from November 20 to 22 and the world premiere in Montréal on December 26 to January 3 for the holiday season before it embarks around the eastern leg of North America. Until the next Avatar comes out,TORUK looks to return us back to the distant world of Pandora and for all its wonders through Cirque’s pool of talent.

Oh, and for those who don’t understand the Na’vi tongue in the teaser video, here’s a (possible) rough translation I found: Oe lu anuraiyä syena hapxi a rey. (“I am the last living member of the Anurai clan.”) Tsahel si hu Eywa a krr, stawm oel aymokrit fizayuä a lim. (“I hear the voices of the ancestors far away when I make the bond with Eywa”). Kraa kxap larmu srefey niwot (“I hear the time when their lives were threatened.”) Ayngaru tsavurit. (“Here’s that story”). Or something like that.

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Tickets go on sale to the public May 8. For more information, visit cirquedusoleil.com/toruk.