Songs of the New Erotics, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Sept. 8, 2002.
On Sept. 8, 2002, Songs of the New Erotics presented a surprise, unsanctioned performance in front of the main entrance to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto to mark the close of the A.G.O.'s "Surrealist Summer" exhibition. The 30-minute tableau vivant (consisting of three 10-minute poses) was performed by William Davison and Sherri Lyn Higgins and was loosely based on the 1928 René Magritte painting entitled "The Lovers". The piece also included an accompanying soundtrack (composed by Davison) which emanated from a concealed tape recorder (inside the suitcase visible in the photos).
While Songs of the New Erotics performed, volunteers from the International Bureau of Recordist Investigation handed out leaflets to audience and passersby.
Songs of the New Erotics' (and by extension, I.B.R.I.'s) presentation of "The Lovers" was in some ways a thank-you to the Art Gallery of Ontario for making over 300 Dada and Surrealist works, in a wide variety of media, available to the Toronto public throughout the summer of 2002. We felt that "Surrealist Summer" was a significant event in this city. We also found however, that we had certain criticisms of the event. Some of these criticisms were specific to the A.G.O. but most applied to the way surrealist work is handled by all large scale art institutions and the art world in general. So, while we endorsed "Surrealist Summer" throughout its run, we felt the need to mark its closing with the release of a public statement which briefly addressed our major concerns. Following is a facsimile of the leaflet which was distributed during and after the Songs of the New Erotics performance.
Did you know...
that there are active surrealist groups all over the world? Did you know that there are hundreds of other individuals and groups who may or may not call themselves surrealists but who consider their activities to be a continuation of the surrealist spirit? And did you know that there is such a group currently living and working in Toronto?
Since its inception in 1994, the International Bureau of Recordist Investigation has provided a focus for surrealist work in Toronto while constantly researching and expanding its contacts with important surrealist groups and individuals worldwide.
As we come to the close of the Art Gallery of Ontarios Surrealist Summer, I.B.R.I. would like you to know that, contrary to popular opinion, surrealism is not a relic of the past to be neatly and safely displayed within museum walls. It is very much alive and has little, if nothing to do with the art- historical concerns of academics. Even more so, we would like to impart one essential fact that has most likely been kept from you by those supposed art authorities, and that is that surrealism cannot truly be understood by a dispassionate viewing of its artworks and other cultural byproducts. To understand, appreciate, and benefit from surrealism, one must embrace its philosophy, practice its methods, and accept it wholly into ones life!
If you would like to learn more about contemporary surrealism and its offshoots, contact the International Bureau of Recordist Investigation at:
If you were at the presentation of "The Lovers" and would like to add your impressions or comments to this page, feel free to write to us at the above address. We would welcome a response from the A.G.O. itself as well, or any of its staff.
S.O.T.N.E. and friends.
Seated at back, L to R: Ray Ellenwood, Beatriz Hausner, William Davison, Sherri Lyn Higgins, Louise Liliefeldt.
In front: Scott MacKay
Photographs on this page were taken by Scott MacKay and are copyright Scott MacKay and S.O.T.N.E., 2002
See the Globe and Mail article on "The Lovers" here