Postponed Piano Burning finally ignites on October 24 at Mountain View Cemetery

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.