Harbourfront Centre Toronto hosting Deaf and disability arts festival

Harbourfront Centre will host one of the largest scale Deaf and disability arts festivals in Canada, CoMotion Festival April 20 to May 1, 2022. The festival will offer in-person and virtual programming at Toronto’s 10-acre waterfront campus.

Curated by renowned Canadian playwright, actor and disability arts advocate Alex Bulmer, the festival celebrates art informed and shaped by the lived experience of disability or Deaf culture, with an international perspective from this global community of artists. Featuring a diverse series of engaging performances, events, visual art exhibitions, workshops and panel discussions, the festival will include a world premiere performance, a leadership development opportunity and eleven new visual art commissions.

“Disability is an experience of living in a world dominated by a ‘one size fits one’ design,” Bulmer, disability arts advocate and CoMotion Festival curator, said. “A growing international assembly of Deaf and disability-identified artists are pushing back against this design, shouting to the world ‘We exist!’ CoMotion Festival brings an international perspective to the disability experience and celebrates these new expressions and ideas through unexpected art and crip aesthetics.”

The innovative program line-up features a mix of in-person and digital programming inclusive of a wide range of performance and visual art genres, including music, theatre, dance, aerial arts, photography and more. The inaugural festival presents striking works from some of today’s most lauded artists and advocates from the Deaf and disability arts communities, including the world premiere of “Dancing With The Universe” from Canada’s REAson d’etre Dance Productions and multidisciplinary artist and athlete Vivian Chong; the Ontario premiere of the theatre/VR hybrid performance VIOLETTE from Montreal’s Joe Jack & John; and the digital sign language performance from UK-based Deaf Japanese artist Chisato Minamimura, Scored in Silence, about the Deaf survivors of the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945.

The festival will include several Nordic Spotlight presentations, including a live musical performance from Finnish Deaf rapper Signmark, two exhibition premieres from Denmark’s Gudrun Hasle and Iceland’s Erla Björk Sigmundsdóttir, commissioned by Harbourfront Centre, and the inauguration of Harbourfront Centre’s first International Visual Artist-in-Residence: Finland’s Jenni-Juulia Wallinheimo-Heimonen.

Two members of Infinite Flow during their performance at Red Bull Dance Your Style in Washington, DC on July 20.
Two members of Infinite Flow during their performance at Red Bull Dance Your Style in Washington, DC on July 20.

Nordic Spotlights are part of Nordic Bridges, a year-long initiative that will connect hundreds of creators from Canada and the Nordic Region throughout 2022 in an exchange of art, culture and ideas from coast to coast to coast.

“CoMotion festival puts Deaf and disability art at its centre and invites visitors from multiple communities to experience excellence both onsite at Harbourfront Centre and in digital space,” Bulmer said. “The festival celebrates the power and voice of independent Deaf and disabled artists and community led organizations who, for years, have been re-imagining practice and innovating the shape and form of art internationally. CoMotion is true to its title: the festival values collective motion, interdependence and the noisy disruption of expectations.”

Designed to reach as broad an audience as possible, festival programming prioritizes accessibility options, including relaxed performances, ASL interpretation, audio description and braille, audio description introductory notes and visual stories available at harbourfrontcentre.com.

To learn more about programming and to buy tickets visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com.

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