Bureau of Aesthetics: Under Activation

Accumulative performance actions in the context of the exhibition, Native Art Department International: Bureau of Aesthetics

Mercer Union
1286 Bloor Street West, Toronto


Bureau of Aesthetics: Under Activation

In the final weeks of Bureau of Aesthetics, artists Native Art Department International (NADI) and FADO Performance Art Centre are facilitating a series of performance (and other) interventions in the space of NADI's exhibition at Mercer Union.

Created by participants working in a variety of disciplines including performance, dance, music and martial arts, these activations demonstrate NADI's commitment to kinship and their desire to build solidarity through forms of collaboration that promote non-competition. Each performance is privately executed and the documentation of each gesture will live on the websites of [FADO Site] and [Mercer Union Site]. This approach speaks to the adaptive methodologies of artists and institutions alike to consider how the pandemic environment impacts the practice and presentation of performance art. Here, the perennially debated theories concerning liveness dissolve for a timely discussion around intimacy, kinship and support; tenets that are fully embodied within the ethos and history of performance work. 

This program is an accompaniment to the exhibition Native Art Department International: Bureau of Aesthetics at Mercer Union, 14 March to 31 October, 2020. 

Please see below for links to image and video galleries of the artist's work.



Abigail Lim is a Criminology graduate from the University of Toronto. She competed for Team Canada in the 2018 World Naginata Championships. She is currently a member of the University of Toronto Naginata Club.

Louise Liliefeldt is a Toronto based Performance Artist and painter. As a South African woman who immigrated to Canada at a young age, her work draws directly from this culture and her lived experiences in order to talk about issues related to the politics of identity. She is interested in the possibilities of the body in space and the effect of time in a space. Louise has presented her work across Canada, the U.S., Poland, Turkey and Wales. She held the position of Sessional Lecturer I, teaching Performance Art at the University of Toronto for seven years.

Lutan Lui a PhD student at University of Toronto. She has been practicing naginata at the University of Toronto Naginata Club for seven years. In 2019 Lui (along with on Abigail Lim) competed as a pair in Engi division of World’s Naginata Championship in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Through performance, video, writing, and curation, Claudia Edwards distills paradoxes until they reach states of hybridity, in pursuit of a queer futurist avant garde. Indo-Guyanese and British-Canadian, they are driven towards an erotics of decolonization, exploring individual, shared, and ancestral pleasures, traumas, and utopics. Their use of scores allows for an interdisciplinary and relational approach, integrating ritual, language, rhythm, and somatics, to achieve specific states of being and consciousness. Edwards obtained their BFA at Concordia University in 2016, and has since created performances for Pi*llOry, The School of Making Thinking, Flux Factory, Virtual International Exchange, Suoni Per Il Popolo, and more. They were awarded a 2018/19 curatorial residency at Hub14 for HOTWIRE, a live art series featuring QTBIPOC artists, and served as curatorial collective member for the 2020 Rhubarb Festival. Edwards is based out of Tkaronto/Toronto.

Deanne Hupfield is Anishnawbe from Temagami First Nation, Ontario, Canada. A descendant of Indian Residential School survivors, Deanne has dedicated her life to learning and preserving her culture. She learned to dance from a small age and has spent her life passing on related teachings to her community. 
She has taught dance for the past 15 years, including weekend classes at The Native Canadian Center of Toronto, and currently teaches virtual regalia making courses as owner of www.deannehupfield.com. As an educator she actively teaches the history of Canadian policy that affects Indigenous people. Deanne was Ironwoman, Wiki Pow Wow 2015.

John Hupfield Waaseyaabin is Anishinaabe from Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, Canada. He is a Phd Candidate in Education at York University, living and working in Toronto where he is a recognized dancer and active community member. He attended powwows his entire life but only started grass dancing in his mid-20s. He is a regular invited and head dancer at many First Nations' and community powwows throughout Ontario. His dancing can be seen in the music video for Indian City, 2016, by A Tribe Called Red, The One Who Keeps on Giving, 2017, double channel video by Maria Hupfield and Miigis, 2018, a production fusing contemporary Indigenous dance with athleticism by Red Sky Performance, Toronto.

Nathan Roy is an Anishnawbe from Wikwemikong located on Manitoulin Island. Nathan was born and raised in Toronto.  He has been singing for over 25 years.  He is apart of a previously grammy nominated singing/drumming group called Bear Creek. Nathan enjoys traveling across North America  sharing his drum teachings and his singing.


Native Art Department International is a collaborative long-term project created and administered by Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan. It focuses on communications platforms and art-world systems of support while at the same time functioning as emancipation from essentialism and identity-based artwork. It seeks multiple strategies of infiltration by comprising a diverse range such as curated exhibitions, video screenings, panel talks, collective art making and documenting, and an online presence, however all activities contain an undercurrent of positive progress through cooperation and non-competition.

Mercer Union is a non-profit, artist-centred space in Toronto that was founded by twelve artists in 1979. The organization has a unique track record of presenting innovative exhibitions and programs with Canadian and international artists in formative and established stages of their careers. Mercer Union is dedicated to supporting the production of new and experimental work, assisting artists in realizing pivotal projects. Mercer Union has the will and flexibility to take on ambitious projects and fosters an intimate and supportive space for artists to develop and take risks with their work.

Photo credit: © Louise Liliefedlt. 2020.


[ Special Presentations ]

+ IMAGE GALLERY: Grief Dances by Claudia Edwards
+ IMAGE GALLERY: Under Activation by Louise Liliefeldt
+ VIDEO GALLERY: Ngamo by John & Deanne Hupfield, Nathan Roy
+ VIDEO GALLERY: Ngamo_Niimi by John & Deanne Hupfield, Nathan Roy
+ VIDEO GALLERY: Naginata by Abigail Lim & Lutan Lui