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Towel Hag

Towel Hag is a performance installation that was first mounted at offthemapgallery in Toronto, in July, 2009. The gallery is a cinder-block building the size of a two-car garage. It has a crumbling cement floor and poor ventilation. During the summer the atmosphere inside is quite stifling; perfect for a bathhouse.
The space is completely dark except for two light sources. A small lamp near the entrance is suspended over a clipboard and a row of flashlights. On the clipboard are an artist statement and instructions that direct visitors to pick up a flashlight and have a look around. The other light source is a small lamp on a table inside the “cage”, a 6’X6’X6’ cube made of black wooden bars. Inside the cage sits the attendant, or towel hag, making paper cutouts and attaching them to the bars.
On the floor of the gallery behind the cage, “rooms” are outlined with fluorescent tape. With all natural light blocked out the tape creates a ghost-like skeleton of a bathhouse that floats in the dark. On the floor in each “room” messages are scrawled in chalk. These writings change as time passes.  The sound of a gay porn video permeates the room from a hidden source. Occasionally sounds from the neighbourhood drift in: a car passes, a dog barks, children call out.
As the performance progresses I (the towel hag) continue to sit silently in the cage making cutouts and taping them to the walls and ceiling of the cell. By the end of the 4 week performance I am completely surrounded by them. I disappear into a glowing paper box.

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The Bushes
(Performance with Laura DiVilio)

Artist Statement

“The Bushes” is the brain child of my lovely and talented friend, Laura DiVilio (the original bush). When Laura told me about her idea to create cartoonish bush costumes and perform spontaneously around the city I said, “Bud, of course.” The Bushes were born in the early 1990’s as part of a performance art class at the Ontario College of Art. The idea was simple: the bushes were not meant to look particularly real - think Wile E. Coyote in shrub drag. When we crouch under them we appear to be “rooted”. When we stand up our feet and legs are clearly visible. We are bushes on the move.

The inaugural performance took place on the grounds of the old University of Toronto greenhouse at University Avenue and Queen’s Park Circle (the greenhouse has since been moved to Allan Gardens). Perplexed passersby stopped to watch two haystack shaped bushes “escape” from the greenhouse, dance around the lawn and eventually encounter a Brinks armoured truck (which could have ended tragically, but gladly did not).

Since then The Bushes have morphed into more comfortable shapes and sizes and have performed at Queen’s Park, Honest Ed’s, the Toronto Dominion Centre (which involved a brush with security and a rallying crowd of bush supporters), Queen Street West and all 4 of Toronto’s Figment Festivals on Olympic Island.

The Bushes 2016 from Philip Hare on Vimeo.