RICHMOND ART GALLERY, Richmond BC – Feb 12 – April 3
by Michael Turner
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, to Goan Indian parents, Brendan Fernandes left Africa as a 10-year-old with his family in 1989, moving to Toronto. Though Fernandes was trained as a dancer, a career-ending injury led him to the visual arts, and he completed degrees at both York and Western universities. Despite leaving Kenya and dance behind, Fernandes kept both at the forefront of his practice. As he writes on his website, “My pieces open up questions about hybridity of media and seek to problematize the notion of fixed, essential or authentic identity.”
For the RAG, Fernandes has produced a two-part performance-based installation: a series of mobile dance supports and platforms (built in conjunction with US architecture and design firm Norman Kelley) and a double-channel video projection, entitled Free Fall: For Camera (2019). While the dance surfaces are interactive and feature choreographer guides during designated performance times, the projection acts as a memory of past Free Fall performances.
Free Fall was conceived after the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Of Free Fall 49, Fernandes writes: “The work poses the falling body as metaphor for queer politic, and the dance fl oor as a space for resistance and experiencing agency. During the performance, dancers performed on raised platforms to a DJ’d soundtrack responding to the set performed at Pulse the night of the shooting. Over the course of the performance, the music stops and the dancers fall to the fl oor a total of 49 times: once for each fatal victim of the attack. In the performance, the music always starts again and the dancers stand up again to dance.”