The patch of river rock tucked under the stairs at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery may never have caught your eye, but it's one of the first things Bridget Moser mentions when she talks about her upcoming show. "The gallery has this really nice mezzanine setup, and then this river rock, and I thought that's a very incredible setting and very strange—so I had to work with that."
The Toronto-based performance and video artist has been attracting attention nationwide and internationally. Creating time-based work using elements of physical theatre, comedy and performance art, Moser's work provides a wry look at contemporary lifestyles and anxiety, touching on feminist issues and traditions in the process. Moser has an ability rare in the visual arts to captivate audiences with her performances in a genuine way.
Working with pop music, her own body and banal everyday objects like chairs, bedsheets and heating ducts, Moser often dresses for performances in an equally ordinary white t-shirt, relying on her words and the atmosphere created with the music and objects.
Moser's MSVU exhibition consists of a collection of previous video work and performance documentation, along with a new site-specific performance (to be presented June 6) and a video that was shot in February. A worker persona crops up in various forms in Moser's work; she says it's a byproduct of her day job in marketing.
Moser excitedly lists off a series of products she's had shipped to the gallery off the internet in preparation for her performance, including specialized office chairs and body pillows. "I spent a lot of time working in an office, including with people who replaced their chairs with yoga balls," Moser says, "sort of desperately trying to insert some sort of feeling of wellness or fitness into this awful existence of working in an office."
Moser also suggests that the language of her marketing job seeps into her performances. It's this world that led Moser in part to performance, looking to find a way of creating work that could fit in around her day job after graduating university. Her performances really started to take form after a residency at the Banff Centre in experimental comedy.
"I've never worked with stand-up, I don't think I ever want to—a lot of it's very bad, and I have more content I would like to get at" than comedy audiences expect, she explains. Still, there's a palpable comedic sense in Moser's videos and performances. Moser performs regularly with Doored, a monthly Toronto performance and comedy show meant to bridge the gaps between performance art, theatre and comedy. She says: "I feel like [performance] is a way of doing things that kind of suits the way my brain actually works."
Bridget Moser, Is This Thing On?
MSVU Art Gallery, To Aug 16
Opening 2-4pm, performance 3pm (follow signs at gallery for location), June 6