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2017 Recipients


Nina is a multidisciplinary artist and muse who’s life/work has attracted national and worldwide attention, garnered critical and academic acclaim. Her work has consistently been the inciting incident which sparks a plethora of debate, public controversies, and subsequent artistic, philosophical, political and interdisciplinary responses from innovators and the international avant-garde. Her artworks, which have been called profoundly moving, absolutely unforgettable, brutally honest and a spiritual gift, have attempted to illuminate uncomfortable and exquisite truths about sex, gender, the body, the spirit, technology, beauty and glamour - and the sacred/ profane dance of the hyperreal and the Real. Nina has also been a frequent speaker at Canadian and American universities in a range of disciplines where she shares the revelations of her work. She has also been a keynote speaker at Moses Znaimer’s Ideacity and has been privileged to give a TED Talk, as well as continuing to promote the rights and dignities of transwomen at countless social organizations and causes. Arsenault’s life and work are the subject of the book Trans(per)forming Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work. Global controversy surrounded Nina following her final live performance in the summer of 2015, as The Whore of Babylon in R. Murray Schaffer’s Apocalypsis. The ripple effect of this performance shattered almost all aspects of her life and career. Forced into homelessness she continues quietly to create.



Louise Bak is the author of Syzygy (DC Books), Tulpa (Coach House Books) Gingko Kitchen (Coach House Books) and emeighty (Letters). She’s the co-host of Sex City, Toronto’s weekly and only radio show, focused on intersections between sexuality, gender, politics and culture, ciut 89.5 fm. Her performance work has appeared in various settings and videos, including Cheese, Brothers and Sisters, Partial Selves, Crimes of the Heart and Tracing Soul. She collaborated with Garine Torossian in a poetic video work called Come Around. She worked with independent and local filmmaker Keith Lock to bring a script inspired by Chinese folklore and Bak’s own family history. She has guest-edited PlusZero, an independent feminist culture publication, on the theme of global Asian women’s art and writing and has also worked on the Board of Directors of Fireweed. She was a writer with After the Facts, an online discussion site about performance art in Canada. She was a columnist with Toro, Canada’s online men’s magazine as a weekly sexual-cultural columnist. She’s programmed variously, including film screenings with The Centre for Media and Culture in Education and with 100,000 Poets For Change. She also curates and hosts a salon series called The Box, which encourages communication across literary and artistic borders. 






Napoleon Brousseau A.K.A. Napo B, was born in Ottawa Canada. He graduated from the Ontario Collage of Art and Design in 1976, and The Canadian Film Centre New Media Lab Toronto in 2001. Since 1974 he has shown continuously as a multi-media artist presenting drawings, films, paintings, installations, new media. He has worked creatively in film and television. In 1984 he created the Ten Ants sculptures on the Cameron Art Bar, Toronto. In 1985 he moved to New York City to work on art directing teams at Area nightclub, and building props on Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Between 1979 and 1991, he collaborated as a member of Fastwurms making Super 8 films and installations and exhibited throughout Canada, US, Italy and Japan. He left Fastwurms in 1991 to travel in India, South East Asia and Europe. In 2005 CFC Media Labs co-produced his project SEED that premiered at Scope Art Fair New York. SEED is a cell phone interactive eco project that has shown in Australia, China, Canada, and USA, and at the Winter Olympics Whistler, 2010. “The Tree Project, 2012 was shown at The McMichael Gallery Kleinberg. “I make art to get through life.”






Jubal Brown born,1975 is a producer, promoter and presenter of contemporary art & events culture based in Toronto, Canada. An agent of pseudo-revolutionary leisure and televisionary cultural psychotherapy. An A/V video-maker of over 50 short works screened or performed in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Paris, London. His projects include Toronto’s legendary Wasteland event series manifested at decaying urban/industrial sites (1996-2000), the Art System Cultural Center (2000-2003), multi-media label Famefame(2003-2007), the relational aesthetics collaborative Land of the Lost (2006-2007), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Arts live audio/visual event series Videodrome (2004-2015) and the rhythmic noise club night Shit Fun (2011-2015). Brown remains best known for the 1996 performance Responding to Art where the artist vomited on classic modernist masterpieces in primary colours, uninvited, in major museums. Jubal Brown’s work consistently challenges boundaries of culture beyond medium, pushing limits of spectatorship, often manifesting an amoral barrage of mindless directionless energy, often a tragic and beautiful collision of despair and longing. Recent efforts are the sex & drugs novella Crawling and conceptual product including photography, sculpture, painting and novelty. Canadian Art magazine, in 2006, called Brown “the dark prince of Toronto art”.






Alexander Chapman is a Guyanese born, Montreal raised actor best known for his Genie-nominated performance as Lydie-Anne de Rosier in John Greyson’s Lilies. After graduating from Dawson College’s theatre program in 1985, he was invited by the National Theatre School to work with director Fleurette Fernando in the school’s inaugural Director’s program. The two collaborated on productions of Kiss of a Spider Woman and Ododo. Other collaborations with Allan Patrick led to two Quebec Drama Festival awards. Martha Henry’s invitation to work with Michael Mc Manus and George Dawson in Whale Riding Weather at the Grand Theatre is one of Alexander’s favourite moments.  Activism entered Chapman’s life when the police raided Montreal’s iconic Sex Garage party, where he was the party’s mascot in drag. Great friends with the creator of the Sex Garage branding, Nicholas Jenkins, Alexander also wrote a sharp commentary for Jenkin’s “Fuzzbox” magazine on bar life, under the nom de plume Titi Galore. Titi Galore would soon after become Alexander’s alter ego. Whilst performing as Miss Galore at Skye Bar in Montreal, John Greyson approached Chapman about Lilies. Alexander has been a muse of John’s ever since. Working with filmmakers like Dana Inkster, Sky Gilbert, Noam Gonick and Monty Cantsin Amen, Alexander has carved out a little niche in underground Canadian cinema framed by activism.






Ron Gillespie was born in 1944 at New Westminister, BC. His earliest training in art took place in 1962-64 at H.S.C. Prince of Wales College, Nairobi, East Africa. Ron Giii’s practice as an artist spans more than three decades and incorporates body performance, film, video, theatre, improvisational music, writing, painting and drawing. In 1975 he founded Shitbandit which organized shows of performance art, sound recordings, video screenings and body-art. He was involved with CEAC Gallery as one its co-conspirators. During the 1970's he was the most radical body art performer in Canada. He was a member of Cold City Gallery. In 2016 a book of his drawings, Oxygen Theatre, was published by Impulse(b:). Giii’s drawing is an extension of his work in performance and theatre. Philosophy, geometry and the anti-modern figure prominently in his compositions with influences including Artaud, Darwin, Hegel and Spinoza.






Singer-songwriter-surrealist Joe Hall, a.k.a. Hans Joachim Boenke, emigrated to Canada in 1952. From the age of 7, he has pursued the musical muse, calling himself: “Just another choir boy gone to seed?.” Raised in southern Ontario, he was seduced by Mo-Town in the 50s, but when the folk boom hit in the mid-sixties he knew he had to try his hand in that form. He was especially attracted to the great trove of nonsense material in the public domain...A Horse Named Bill... It Was Midnight On the Ocean, Not a Streetcar Was in Sight. In Toronto in the mid and late 70s with his band The Continental Drift he ruled Queen St. West from the Horseshoe Tavern to the Black Bull. He also took time to explore performance art with La Club Foot. He continues to work in many different ways to communicate in song. What Is It? is not so much epistemological obfuscation as it is a growing together of bluegrass, polka and minor blues ballad tempos inside 4 minutes. In the 21st century, he continues to perform with The Deep Woods Winos from Outer Space.





Martin Heath has been committed to film and bicycling ever since he was a teenager in England in the early 1960s. He has worked as a film print handler, projectionist or cinema builder for many notable organizations in London and Toronto. His personal projects have included his 100-minute film The Son of Tutti Frutti which played weekly at the Roxy Cinema in Toronto in 1972, his and Chris Clifford’s inflatable Mobile Cinema which toured Ontario for 3 summers (1976- 1978); and collecting 2,000 films and 50 projectors. But Martin Heath is probably best known as the owner and operator of CineCycle, an underground cinema and bicycle repair shop in Toronto since 1991.






GB. Jones combines film and video in analogue and digital formats to create her work. She has to date made the films Unionville, The Troublemakers, The Yo-Yo Gang, The Lollipop Generation and Hot Dogs, as well as the video Dark End of the Street for The Hidden Cameras. She has worked on the publications (sic) with John Brown, Shelagh Alexander, Rebecca Garrett and others; HIDE, a print and cassette zine with Caroline Azar and Candy Parker; J.D.s, with Bruce LaBruce; and Double Bill with Jena von Brucker, Caroline Azar, John Richard Allen and Rex. She has been a member of the bands Bunny and the Lakers with Peter Morgan, How’rd Pope and Wendy King: Fifth Column, with Caroline Azar, Beverly Breckenridge, and 20 other members and Opera Arcana with Minus Smile and Sianteuse. Collaborating with Caroline Azar, the two created the installation “The Bruised Garden” for The Theatre Centre in Toronto. Caroline Azar also collaborated with GB and Minus Smile and the members of Opera Arcana to produce the play, The Bruised Spirits of Southern Ontario at Videofag in Toronto. In 2002, Paul P. and GB Jones began creating collages together. To date, 50 have been made, some of which will be exhibited at Participant in November 2017 in NYC. Working with Bruce LaBruce, the two created a mise en scène revolving around their zine J.D.s, which also included collaborating on films and videos and resulting in the J.D.s Film Festival programme which played in cities such as Toronto, Montreal, San Francisco, New York and London. John Porter and the members of Fifth Column collaborated on a series of films, frequently loops, to be shown with the band at live performances. They toured with this collaboration throughout North America in the 1980s.






Bruce LaBruce is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker, photographer, writer and artist based in Toronto. Along with numerous short films, he has written and directed eleven feature films, including Gerontophilia, which won the Grand Prix at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal in 2013, and Pierrot Lunaire, which won the Teddy Award Special Jury  Prize at the Berlinale in 2014. As a visual artist he is represented by Peres Projects in Berlin, and has had numerous gallery shows around the world, including Obscenity, a photography exhibit that caused a national ruckus in Spain in 2011. His feature film L.A. Zombie was notably banned in Australia in 2010 after having been programmed at the Melbourne International Film Festival. It later premiered in competition at the Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland that same year. Most recently, LaBruce has completed a short film, Refugee’s Welcome, and a feature-length fiction film called The Misandrists, which is currently touring the festival circuit, and which has been named one of the 15 greatest lesbian films of all time by Indiewire.





LAL is a Toronto-based collective of musicians representing Uganda, Bangladesh, Barbados, and India featuring vocalist Rosina Kazi, laptop musician, Nicholas “Murr” Murray, and bassist Ian de Sousa. The group’s sound fuses South-Asian roots, West Indian fruits, and melancholic vocals with jazz and hip-hop influences, downtempo grooves, broken soul, and electro. Their song lyrics are socially conscious poetry. LAL formed in 1998 has produced four studio albums, including Corners (2002), and Warm Belly High Power (2004), which was named the best soul album of 2004 by Exclaim!. LAL has also performed in a variety of festivals and venues across Canada, Europe, and Pakistan. They received support from the Canada Council for the Arts for composing and recording in 2006/2007. LAL’s third album is Deportation; the album featured 20 guest artists. They released the album Find Safety in 2016.





Born in 1954, of Estonian parentage, Hillar Liitoja devoted the early part of his life to becoming a classical pianist, an endeavour at which he handsomely failed. Liitoja founded DNA Theatre in 1982 and immediately rattled off a number of strange pieces expressing his admiration of Ezra Pound’s poetry, the first examples of DNA’s unique polyphonic environmental style. Over the decades he widened his horizon to create whatever struck his fancy – the exultation/monstrosity of HAMLET; a visceral investigation of AIDS; a never-finished all-encompassing Artaud cycle; sensuous installations; three radical ballets. In the process, DNA has become arguably the most versatile company in Canada, invariably polarizing audiences who are enraptured and thrilled, bewildered and offended, in seemingly equal measure. Liitoja remains intransigent about taking however much time is needed for creating DNA sensoria, thus alienating arts councils that prefer quantity over quality. Eschewing suicide, at least for the moment, Liitoja eats well and drinks to excess as he contemplates, with only the rarest flashes of bitterness, the seemingly-imminent demise of DNA. He derives his greatest pleasure from writing ruminative, yet feisty, essays on art and conducting painstaking, but merciless, podcasts. These are all available at He will not leave his house without a copy of The New York Review of Books.






Louise Liliefeldt would say that she is a prolific and committed performance artist. It was around 1989 - 1990 when she found the form of art that would allow for a consideration of the personal, social and political issues surrounding her identity. She has always been passionate about the strictness of duration, endurance and physical resistance. She was driven by disciplined research into the possibilities of live presence while taking risks to create a strong visual style. Both her performance work as well as her paintings have been inspired by images from popular culture, art history, underground art and more so by the acts of life and death in how the mind and body are affected. She weaves these inspirations with various media including sculpture, video projections and sound creating interdisciplinary and site-specific work. The biggest influence in her work is that she was born in Cape Town, South Africa, made up of a blend of many cultures and nationalities. She has been back numerous times and does not believe there will ever be a time that does not make so much of her whole. Working in site-specific public spaces is meaningful to her with its vast array of who will see and experience the work. The meaning of the work changes from person to person, within the context of time and space as well as what the cultural, social and political temperature is at the time of the event. Performance Art makes her feel heard when she is performing as well as when she is experiencing another artist’s work.






Artist, urban ecology animator and early innovator in digital photography, Dyan Marie works in  sculpture, text, images and place-making through public art, curating, walking systems, publications, banner projects, community initiatives, festivals and poetry events. A founder of C Magazine, Cold City Gallery, DIG IN, Walk Here, Dupont Projects, BIG: Bloor Improvement Group and the BIG On Bloor Festival. Her organization How We Live In Cities responds to climate change and population shift with art and ecology projects. Presently she is harvesting seeds gathered on walks along the railway lines, city lane-ways, industrial grey-lands and as offered from private front yards, parks and community spaces, for the making of the Eden Archive. The Eden Archive is a project of images, poems and gardens.






Isaac Murdoch is Ojibway and from Serpent River First Nation. He grew up living a traditional lifestyle of hunting, fishing, and seasonal harvesting. During his 20s, he became very interested in the ancient  pictography of the Ojibway peoples and began studying pictography art at sacred sites. His research took him all over turtle island where he recorded elders and traditional knowledge keepers. Isaac became a storyteller based on the oral history of his people and travelled extensively through Ojibway territory passing on the ancient teachings to the younger generation. He has always been an advocate for the environment and has created art to help the resurgence of water protectors around the world. He currently resides at Nimkii Aazhbikoong, and Ojibway language immersion camp with his four-year-old daughter, Waabigwan.






Andrew James Paterson is an interdisciplinary artist living in Toronto, Ontario. His work engages in a playful questioning of language, philosophy, community and capitalism in a wide range of disciplines, including video, performance, writing, film and music. Paterson has contributed to artist-run discourse for nearly four decades – serving on the boards of Trinity Square Video, A Space, and YYZ Artists’ Outlet. He has curated media-arts and other programmes for these organizations as well as Cinematheque Ontario, Mercer Union, Images Festival, Pleasure Dome, and Available Light in Ottawa. He has edited and co-edited books for YYZ’s publishing programme; and contributed to anthologies published by Gallery TPW and to periodicals such as File, Impulse, Fuse, and BorderLines. Between 2011 and 2017 he worked as the coordinator for the8fest small-gauge film festival. His media-arts works have shown locally, nationally, and internationally over three and a half decades – in Seoul, Bangalore, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Paris, New York City. Paterson’s artist’s book Collection Correction was published in 2016 by Kunstverein Toronto and Mousse of Milan. His novelette Not Joy Division is to be published by IMPULSE(b:) in Toronto this fall.






Dainty Smith is a Toronto based actor, burlesque performer, playwright, producer, and speaker. Dainty believes that through the art of storytelling and a willingness to be exposed that genuine human connections can be made. Her performances often tell deeply vulnerable stories regarding race, religion, sexuality and challenging social boundaries. Dainty took performing arts at George Brown College and is a powerful self-taught storyteller, performer, and orator. She acted in the acclaimed theatre group Les Blues. She was a co-producer in the performance art collective Colour Me Dragg. Her diverse array of stage performances include the Mayworks Festival, Rock Paper, Sistahz, Caminos Festival for Aluna Theatre, The Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Artscape, and Daniels Spectrum Theatre. Over the past decade, Dainty has brought her utterly raw, emotional artistry to her burlesque performances. She is the founder of Les Femme Fatales: Women of Colour burlesque troupe, the first burlesque troupe for women of colour in Canada.







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