Gifts photo 1

1. Wandering the hallways of the Gladstone Hotel in search of interesting debris.

Gifts photo 2

2. Examining an object found near the back stairwell. Note the careful handling with rubber gloves and tweasers.

Gifts photo 3

3. In the back alley, seeking out more hidden gems.

Gifts photo 4

4. Waiting patiently for visitors to arrive. Visible in this photo are the open violin case (at right, on the dresser) and the cigar box (on the bed) now filled with potential “gifts”.

Gifts photo 5

5. Listening to 78’s at 16 rpm (in this instance, “Pop Goes The Mambo” and “Oh Dear, What Can The Mambo Be?” by Stanley Black and his Orchestra. Incidentally, the tune from “Pop Goes The Weasel” has appeared in several other S.O.T.N.E. performances).

Gifts photo 6

6. A visitor receives a “tiny gift”.

Gifts photo 7

7. A little music to pass the time and entertain the visitors and passersby. Mostly scraping and high-pitched screeching actually.

Gifts photo 8

8. Several minutes atop the bed, intently staring at a painting; an action repeated numerous times throughout the performance.

Gifts photo 9

9. Filling the pages of a notebook with tiny hatchmarks.

Gifts photo 10

10. Saying goodnight.


“tiny gifts” - a performance by SONGS OF THE NEW EROTICS
Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, Nov. 3, 2001

“tiny gifts” was presented as part of a cross-Canada performance art exchange project called Reciprocity/Reciprocité. Three artists from each of three Canadian cities - Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver - were asked to present site-specific performances in each city. Participating artists included Josée Tremblay, Éric Létourneau, and Victoria Stanton from Montréal; Paul Couillard, Shannon Cochrane, and William Davison (aka Songs of the New Erotics) from Toronto; Tagny Duff, Margaret Dragu, and Kirsten Forkert from Vancouver/Richmond. On Oct. 31/01, these nine artists occupied the Elle Corazon storefront at 176 Bernard Ouest, Montréal. On Nov. 3/01, the group presented pieces in various rooms and spaces at the Gladstone Hotel in downtown Toronto. The Vancouver segment of the project has not yet been presented

“tiny gifts” was a three-hour solo performance which combined experimental and improvised sound (pre-taped and live) with various performance art actions and interactions involving the audience/visitors, residents of the hotel, and the space itself.

The performance was divided into two sections.

The first section was one hour in length and involved the performer moving through the various spaces of the hotel - hallways and stairwells, washrooms, the main lobby, and outside around the hotel’s perimeter and back alley - armed with a flashlight, cigar box, rubber gloves and surgical tweasers, collecting various bits of debris and detritus (cigarette butts, rusty nails, screws, bottle caps, broken glass, string, feathers, twigs and so on).

The second section was two hours in length and took place entirely within one of the rooms of the hotel. It involved various actions such as playing violin, staring at a painting, obsessive mark making, playing 78’s on an old record player, sitting for long periods of time or staring out the window, and of course interacting with the numerous visitors to the room. Some of these visitors (10 in total) received “tiny gifts” which consisted of a small, glass jar containing one of the objects previously collected in and around the hotel.

An important element of the performance was the three-hour long soundtrack (specially composed for the piece by Songs of the New Erotics) which emanated from speakers hidden under the bed in the hotel room. The soundtrack consisted of strange and distant sounds (wind, muffled voices, tapping and scratching, electronic tones, trickling water, buzzing flies, etc.) which subtly provided atmosphere to the performance, sometimes blending into the ambient sounds of the hotel (traffic noises, rattling pipes, etc.) and other times filling the space with a dense cloud of sound.

The space was further modified with the addition of props such as a record player, violin case, pile of latex gloves, and a decaying “still life” painting.

Throughout the performance, the performer remained in costume and in “character” (the strange occupant of Room 50).


Songs of the New Erotics would like to thank the artists and organizers of Reciprocity/Reciprocité; in particular Paul Couillard, Josée Tremblay, Tagny Duff, and Margaret Dragu. S.O.T.N.E. also acknowledges the assistance (via Reciprocity/Reciprocité) of the Toronto Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Gladstone Hotel. Many thanks to S.Higgins for her work in documenting this and other S.O.T.N.E. performances; for the use of her photos here; and for her continued support and encouragement.

Photos copyright S.Higgins, 2002. Everything else copyright W.A.Davison, 2002.