DRAGU, Margaret

Margaret Dragu's NEW NORMAL: an embodied novel KinesTHESES 2019 PHOTO Henry Chan

NEW NORMAL: an embodied novel
Wednesday September 4 7:30 pm
TTC Oakvale Greenspace (in front of the Oakvale Green Community Gardens), 77 Oakvale Avenue

with the assistance of dance captains Claudia Moore, Rob Abubo and Mikiki

NEW NORMAL is a walk’n’roll dusk-to-dark performance-for-camera where the audience is inside the performance as they walk’n’roll  with easily-learned-gestures from Dragu’s urban stories of negotiating public transit with mobility aids, wheelchairs and baby strollers that the performing public listen to on their cellphones.

Margaret has some advance instructions/suggestions to enhance your participation in the performance:

1. Please download the 4 audio files (mp3 format) below to your cellphone before the performance so that you can be part of the soundtrack.

New Normal #1
New Normal #2
New Normal #3
New Normal #4

2. We’ll ask you to play them live, so remember to bring your cellphone to NEW NORMAL.

3. Wear your reflective safety gear for night visibility – vests, armbands, etc.

Thanks to:
– Justine A. Chambers and Kage for choreography and audio research and development;
– Dorothy Bennie, Paul Couillard, David Fox, Michael Glassbourg and Sarah Sheard as the the impromptu choir for the audio recordings; and
– the Toronto Transit Commission for allowing the use of the TTC Oakvale Greenspace for this project.


PHOTO Paul Couillard

Body Atlas
Saturday August 24 2 pm
Bachir/Yerex Presentation Space @ 401 Commons, 401 Richmond Street West, 4th floor

Join ‘Dr. Margaret’ [Dragu] and ‘Dr. Fiona’ [Griffiths] for a walk and talk and do performative lecture. Medicine meets Pee-wee Herman in this informal investigation of Griffiths’ and Dragu’s medical and artistic practices, explored through the lens of chosen body parts. Part conversation, part performance, this event will feature body stories, experiences and medical actions centred around notions of body knowledge, health and art by two of Canada’s most astute and experienced performance-based physical practitioners.

Margaret Dragu works in video, installation, web/analogue publication and performance. Spanning relational, durational, interventionist and community-based practices, she has presented her work across Canada, the United States and Europe. An innovator and pioneer in Canadian art, Dragu is a 7a*11d Éminence Grise (2012), was the first artist featured in FADO’s Performance Art Legends publication series, and was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2012. Her favourite art-making material is still the body despite or because of her bionic status as a grateful owner of two recent hip replacements.



Margaret Dragu with Joy Harder and Arc Meni, Verb Frau Season 2 2015 PHOTO Joy Harder

VERB FRAU TV Season 5: 7a*11d
Thursday October 13 to Saturday October 15Tuesday October 18 to Saturday October 22  4 pm

VERB FRAU TV = verb woman television = DIY TV = margaret dragu = making and talking about performance = daily practice. VERB FRAU TV blends video art, reporting and conversations on contemporary performance art practices in a daily online TV show. Each live streamed episode includes a 15 minute interview with a special and fascinating artist performing or working during the festival, a daily yoga exercise, live cooking to create a daily appetizer to share with her special guest, and other stuff.

Margaret Dragu works in video, installation, web-based/book-publication and performance. Spanning relational, durational, interventionist and community-based practices, her performances have been presented in galleries, museums, theatres, nightclubs, libraries, universities and site specific venues including parks, botanical gardens, and public parade routes across Canada, the United States and Europe. An innovator and pioneer in Canadian art, Dragu is a 7a*11d Éminence Grise (2012), and was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2012.

Season 5: Episode 1 with Kate Barry

Season 5: Episode 2 with Bartolomé Ferrando

Season 5: Episode 3 with Golboo Amani

Season 5: Episode 4 with Chun Hua Catherine Dong

Season 5: Episode 5 with Paul Couillard

Season 5: Episode 6 with All Day All Desktop Performances

Season 5: Episode 7 with Elizabeth Chitty

Season 5: Episode 8 with Mikiki

Season 5: Episode 9 (pre)rolling and (w)rapping

For links to the original (unedited) live streams, go to http://7a-11d.ca/festival_updates/verb-frau-daed-live-stream/

VERB FRAU TV Seasons 1 through 4 are available for free on iTunes, the artist’s and VIVO’s websites.



Margaret Dragu, Yoga pose d'jour spot from Verb Frau TV Season 5 2016 VIDEO Sarah Sheard (embedded from the videographer's Vimeo page)

Margaret Dragu as Lady Justice, 2012 PHOTO Martin Lipman

VERB WOMAN: remembering to forget
Wednesday October 24 to Sunday October 28 11 am
Toronto Free Gallery

Yoga with Margaret Dragu
Wednesday October 24 to Sunday October 28 10 am
Toronto Free Gallery

I make art like I make bread. Je sais la recette pour la fabrication du pain mais je ne sais pas vraiment ce que je vais faire jusqu’au moment où je commence. I listen to my heart, psyche, and body. Like a bricoleur, I employ EVERYTHING AT HAND: research, social engagement, community, photography, science, new media, social media; aussi bien que des disciplines traditionnelles comme la danse, la musique, le théâtre, la sculpture et les arts domestiques. My performance, video and new media work appears in flash mobs and art galleries, billboards and bus shelters, theatres and malls, on the internet and your cell phone. It is relational, durational, interventionist and community-based.

Margaret Dragu is the first artist featured in Fado’s Canadian Performance Art Legends publication series highlighting the work of senior Canadian performance artists. She is a 2012 Laureate of the Canadian Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. She is also the recipient of the City of Richmond’s Most Innovative Artist Award, Ethel Tibbett’s Woman of the Year Award for The Arts, Richmond Women’s Centre’s Inspirational Woman Award, and the Mall Peepre Award for Outstanding Fitness Leader. She is an internationally famous cleaning lady.



Margaret Dragu, Lady Justice SEXE! Action/VIVA! Art Action, Montreal 2006 PHOTO Guy L'Heureux

Forgetting & Remembering

I yearn to be pure. But I am so messy.

I worked in the dance world from 1969-72, but Modern Dance was conservative, narrow; there was no place for me. I was introduced to the ideas in Yvonne Rainier’s “No Manifesto” (1965) by making art with visual artists who were jumping off the walls to make Happenings with poets, theatre artists, photographers, sculptors:

No to spectacle no to virtuosity no to transformations and magic and make believe no to glamour and transcendency of the star image no to the heroic no to the anti-heroic no to trash imagery no to involvement of performer or spectator no to style no to camp no to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer no to eccentricity no to moving or being moved.

I was only dimly aware that the manifesto originated from Rainier. These ideas were mirrored and infused with what was happening in the real world—marches, grassroots organizing, social and educational upheaval, anti-Viet Nam War and Civil Rights Movements, the birth of feminism and gay rights, Back to the Land Communes. It wasn’t a time of labels, definitions or authorship.

One of the techniques used to find new movement patterns was chance-choreography. Merce Cunningham and John Cage employed chance operations in the early 1950s at Black Mountain College with avant-garde, modern, and minimalist visual artists, architects, sculptors, writers and intellectuals. John Cage said that improvisation was not as interesting a method to find new movement (or music or aktion), as the artist always improvises by doing what he/she knows or with what she/he is comfortable. Chance breaks through that comfort. It is pure and head-driven.

I still use chance techniques for performance. I find it freeing. Still. The way durational work is freeing because you have a real task that you must apply yourself to by merely doing it—again, again, again for a long time. This combined with exploring eastern religions surely is what led to durational/relational practices (e.g. Vito Acconcci’s 1969 work Following Piece).

There remains a coolness, a purity and a head-first aesthetic/value to chance work(s) like Cage’s 4’33” (1952), Water Walk performed on a 1960 TV episode of “I’ve Got a Secret,” and Rainier’s Continuous Project – Altered Daily (1970), anything from the 800 performance “events” by Merce Cunningham. This in contrast to infamous frenzied outcomes like Carolee Schneemann’s 1964 Meat Joy work. Perhaps Yvonne Rainier’s move from dance to film was fed by an interest in narrative (deconstructed or manipulated) and a desire to break away from the body-as-object coolness and purity. To get messy. In fact, a need to be and express the female. I don’t know. I am probably projecting myself onto her because I identify with her in some ways and share some common history.

Part of me longs to be pure and make work that follows Rainier’s manifesto and Cage-ian parameters. But somehow real life, the body, and discordant aesthetics always come into play, making my work messy. Even Yvonne, in Feelings are Facts published in 2006 by MIT Press, expresses some regret over her notorious “No Manifesto.”

I yearn to be pure. But I am so messy.

— Margaret Dragu

Tuesday October 30 4 pm
Leigha Lee Browne Theatre
University of Toronto Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail

Wednesday October 31 1 pm
DPNC, 1900 Davenport Rd

ARTIFACTS, Margaret DRAGU, Chrissy POITRAS & claude wittmann
Performance & Food Event
Thursday November 1 6 pm
DPNC, 1900 Davenport Rd

FOOD=NEED is a week of performances, workshops and discussion forums around food and its use, facilitated by WIAprojects in collaboration with DPNC, Arts4All and 7a*11d. Food is a basic human need. It shapes desires and obsessions and yields many kinds of enjoyment and pain. One can explore food from diverse perspectives, seeing it both as an object produced and consumed and also as a symbol of our human relations. The diversity of what we eat (and don’t eat) and of how food is produced and shared shapes cultures, communities, and nations. At the changing of the year at Samhain, we acknowledge mortality and remember our ancestors. It is a time when the veil is thin between this world and that of the next. We trick them in costume and through play. We celebrate and honour them with tradition and story. Food is an essential part of this time. FOOD = NEED intends to animate fruitful discussion, generate creative ideas, and build solidarity among cultural producers and facilitators across communities using performance – and food

WIAprojects is a multi-faceted feminist arts-informed research, mentoring and practice program housed at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE), Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. For more information and a full schedule of events: www.wiaprojects.com



Margaret Dragu, The Wall Is in my Head ReciproCity/RéciproCité Toronto 2001 PHOTO Andrew Pommier

Margaret Dragu is celebrating her third decade as a performance artist. She has presented her work in galleries, museums, theatres, nightclubs, libraries, universities and site-specific venues including parks, botanical gardens, and public parade routes across Canada, the west and east coast of the United States, and in western Europe. Margaret is also a film and video artist, writer, choreographer, actor, and radio broadcaster. She is a fitness instructor and personal trainer at community centres and hospitals in the city of Richmond, BC, specializing in clients with heart/stroke history, osteoporosis, arthritis, and for the visually impaired as well as clients requiring post-rehab and post-surgery programmes. Margaret’s recent performance work is a series entitled Conscious Corpus. It is a series of investigations of the body that draws upon a holistic lexicon from both her fine arts and body arts practice.


Margaret Dragu, The Wall Is in my Head ReciproCity/RéciproCité Montréal 2001

Margaret Dragu, The Wall Is in my Head ReciproCity/RéciproCité Toronto 2001

ReciproCity/RéciproCité Toronto round table discussion (part 1), Gladstone Hotel 2001

ReciproCity/RéciproCité Toronto round table discussion (part 2), Gladstone Hotel 2001