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The Idea of North 2.0 at SummerWorks

 To Live in the Age of Melting: The Idea of North 2. 0

A LiveArt presentation at SummerWorks 2014

By evalyn parry and Elysha Poirier, with special guests

Installation: Aug 11-17, 5 to 8 pm daily
Performance: Aug 15,16 & 17, 9 pm

What does “North” mean to you, Toronto? And what does Iqaluit have to say about “South?” Enter an evocative sonic and visual installation and join a longitudinal conversation between the Canadian North and South about how we exist in each other’s experience and imagination. Come to the installation to contribute your stories, images and objects (Aug 11-17).

Attend the final theatrical concert (Aug 15-17), which will be based on what is discovered and collected over the duration of the Festival.

August 11-17, 2014
Pia Bouman School for Creative Movement, 6 Nobel St.
Studio C

Q & A 

“So…what is this exactly?” 
It’s an INSTALLATION event, culminating in three PERFORMANCES.

The INSTALLATION runs daily from Aug 11 to 17th, from 5 to 8 pm. It’s FREE. You can drop in anytime during those hours.

PERFORMANCES are Aug 15, 16th and 17th at 9 pm.
Tx for the performance are $15 and reservations are recommended, very limited seating.
Buy advance tx here:


“So…what exactly are you asking me to do?” 

We’re inviting you to come in and participate in our North-inspired studio installation, where you could do one or more of the following:

• MAP your own most Northern journey on our interactive map
• BRING us something – an object, a story, a song, an image – which speaks to you of North. We will log and tag each item, and display it as part of our cumulative installation. *
• TELL us a story about your experience or ideas about the North; answer a few questions and record a short interview with evalyn parry
• WATCH a new film by evalyn parry and Elysha Poirier
• Check out interviews with people living in the North about their experience and ideas of South

[*NOTE: We will take good care of your item, and return it to you at the end of the week! Or, if you have something you’d like to contribute, but prefer not to leave it with us, Elysha will make a digital document of your item.]

We are interested in how the “idea of North” manifests in the contemporary experience and imagination people living in the Canadian South, and, how the “idea of South” manifests in the contemporary experience and imagination of people living in the Canadian North.

“Okay, sounds interesting, so when can I come?” 

Installation “office hours” are 5 to 8 pm, August 11-17. It’s free. You can drop in anytime during those hours. If you can’t make it during those hours, but you’d like to schedule an interview with evalyn, please email to book a time.

“What is the performance on August 15th, 16th and 17th?”

These three performances will be the first public workshop of a brand new production, TO LIVE IN THE AGE OF MELTING. Written by evalyn parry with visuals by Elysha Poirier, the performance will integrate what is collected over the course of the Festival week, alongside material evalyn has been working inspired by her two recent trips to the Arctic. If you contribute material (either record an interview, or bring something), it may wind up in the show.


“I’m interested but I don’t really understand what I should bring to your installation. Can you give me some ideas?” 

-The parka you wore the time you hitchhiked to Dawson City
-A picture of the Northern Lights (a print, or a digital file)
-a song that makes you think of the North (a recording, or come play it for us live and we’ll record it!)
-The paddle you canoed with in Algonquin
-a stone from the Mackenzie River
-a poem
-a postcard
-a birth certificate
-a flag
-a pelt
-a flower
-a bag of ice
-a solar panel
-a backpack

-something else…..anything that sparks your imagination, and has a story to go with it

“I don’t have an object I want to bring, but I’d be willing to answer your questions and I’d talk about the North.” Should I still come?” 

YES! I’d love to talk to you. Interviews will only be about 10 minutes long.

“I’ve never been anywhere North of Sudbury, can I still come?”

Everyone is welcome. In fact, I’m especially interested to talk to southern Canadians who have never travelled very far North. Your perspective is valuable…i want to know what you imagine about the North!

“Isn’t there a Glenn Gould CBC radio documentary from 1967 called ‘The Idea of North”?” 

Yes there is – and that’s what this installation / performance was inspired by….it’s my re-examination of the subject nearly 50 years later.


4 comments on “The Idea of North 2.0 at SummerWorks”

  1. evalyn says:

    Thanks for this beautiful reply, Lynn, with so many strong and striking images and stories! Wonderful. See you at the show i hope!

  2. Lynn Westerhout says:

    Dear Evalyn

    I have ideas of objects that speak to me of North, but no actual artifacts.

    The sad truth is I have ended up further south than my birth place (London UK 51.30N Toronto 43.37N ) even though I have romanced North more than South or West.

    Sailing on the boat down the St Lawrence as we immigrated, it was the North Shore we watched: rugged, intimidating.
    While I was a young girl growing up in England and then in Southern Quebec (late sixties early 70’s) Canada kind of hitched its new identity to the North and marketed itself as such: Expo 67 was the time of boosting the Dorset artists like Kenojuak and her owl, and soapstone, real or fake, everywhere. I took “Ookpik” the stuffed Snowy Owl toy to the baby I was to be a nanny for in France when I was 17.
    (I replaced the hard plastic feet with black leather ones for safety, even further degrading the idea of Snowy Owls and the hard edge of the North.)

    I only was connected to the North (there is only one, ha!) by art and ideas. Photography especially, and Farley Mowat and Never Cry Wolf, Lost in the Barrens. The idea of the North Star, for guidance. The idea of how silly the hunt/race for the North Pole was, but it was an excuse to follow the yearning for freedom that the North has often stood for, though in reality, a place where you can be less free because your life is at stake so easily is only probably matched by the desert, which is the idea of South.

    I have still to get North of Superior, an iconic phrase conjuring challenge and beauty beyond imagining. My heart still lifts when I go north enough to see the Shield poking up more along the road, even though I have a big piece of it in my basement to remind me. I have always felt better driving north on the 400 or 404 though I might not go further than Barrie or Newmarket. With the North behind me, I see lots of raptors circling the city, scavengers.

    I was once at a talk about finances and investment. The speaker was Kevin O’Leary and he talked about putting money into fighting global warming, testing covering the ice with reflective plastic, near the North pole. Pictures of acres of it. I was in shock for a week.

    The most evocative music of the North that I could relate to was Mike Stevens’ harmonica piece, though throat singing and drumming have come my way. Not to dismiss you and Stan Rogers tracing lines that I follow with pleasure.

    I do have an iceberg connection, though icebergs themselves are a symbol of North being eaten by south, I think. My grandfather was a band leader on the White Star line and sailed the Atlantic many times dodging icebergs. When he was on the S.S.Montcalm in 1927, they did hit one, but no serious damage was sustained. I’ll show you the newspaper clipping when I come if you like. I got a story and a mildly humourous song out of it.

    North still means reaching for something ineffable, far, in my mind. Probably because in reality I am a lazy Southron, possibly a fearful one. Your courage always shines for me. Carry on North, I’ll see you soon.

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