A little sooner: Brendan Fernandes closes at Diaz with performance of Encomium this weekend
For those who aren't familiar with Brendan Fernandes' work, you need to know it's structured around a disarming array of multiplicities in his wildly hyrbid identity. An Indian-Kenyan Canadian living in New York who's also gay, Fernandes has always plied his mongrel identity in his work to uniquely potent effect, challenging assumptions and typecasts with a clever knowingness.
That's in part why his current show at Diaz is a little disappointing. Here, Fernandes, a Sobey finalist last year for the body of work I just mentioned, embraces the aching sincerity of contemporary dance -- he trained as a dancer before he became an artist -- choreographing high-romantic sequences between lovers. He complements these with take-away posters with text, and graphic works that work with the dance conventions of dots and lines.
The latter of these are the most satisfying, with their up-close visual qualities both magnifying the graphic qualities of these very practical forms (dancers use them to mark places and movements on the floor) at the same time as removing their function. But the video performances are awkward and uncompelling, and lack the tension that fuels so much of Ferandes unique sensibility. I give him credit for trying something new; it's both brave and risky. I just don't think it works.
Either way, Fernandes show wraps up tomorrow (Jan. 7) at Diaz with a live performance of Encomium, the piece he created for it, at 3 pm.