BY JANET SMITH, STIR VANCOUVER
The Queer Arts Festival and the Talking Stick Festival present Piano Burning on October 24 at 5 pm at Mountain View Cemetery
IT’S A PERFORMANCE that refuses to be extinguished.
After seeing postponement due to fire bans on August 8 during the Queer Arts Festival, Piano Burning is now ready to ignite again. As we reported then, the outdoor performance at Mountain View Cemetery will feature Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa sporting a (fireproof) gown designed by Evan Ducharme and literally lighting her piano on fire. The highly symbolic performance will debut a new piece by composer Russell Wallace.
SD Holman and Margo Kane, artistic director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance, have put a new twist on Annea Lockwood’s notorious work, written in 1968 and directing the performer to soak paper in lighter fluid, set it alight, and drop it into a piano that is beyond repair. The Vancouver duo has re-envisioned the entire act through the lens of historically banned First Nations fire ceremonies and the global warming crisis.
They’ve grounded this event in cultural knowledge and a focus on Two-Spirit artists, including Sempúlyan, who will speak about the spiritual role of fire to communicate with ancestors, and Squamish Nation councillor Orene Askew (better known as DJ O Show), who will set the piano alight.
In August, Holman wrote a letter explaining the reasons for the postponement and for the provocative transdisciplinary performance itself; you can read it here. And brush up on much more background on Piano Burning itself, with info here from when Stir previewed it in August.