Sweet Nothings in October


Launching into Fall, seems like September flew by in a flash. SIGH!
The result of being too damn busy, I say.
Seems like a good moment to slow things down a bit, doesn’t it?
And what better time than now, during the height of autumn colours.

I propose two occasions for Doing Nothing this October:

When: Thurs. Oct. 13 at 4pm
What: Mount-Royal Maple Magnificence
Where: Meet at the statue, we’ll take it from there.

When: Sun. Oct. 30 at 3pm
What: Fall Bird Watching at the Rapids Sanctuary
Where: Meet at 6th Ave, corner of LaSalle boulevard, LaSalle, in front of the parking entrance
(we’ll head to the bird sanctuary in the Parc des Rapides from there)

In the hopes that we can share some down time this month, please come join me!

To note: both instances involve moving around; comfortable walking shoes recommended!


Septembre est déjà terminé !!! INCROYABLE
Voilà ce qui arrive quand on est trop occupé.e !!
Le signal est clair, il faut ralentir et se détendre
Profitons des belles couleurs de l’automne pour le faire MAINTENANT

Je vous invite donc à deux réunions en octobre pour: Ne rien faire ensemble

Alibi : Les érables majestueux du Mont-Royal
Où : Rendez-vous point de départ à la statue de l’Ange
(monument George- Étienne Cartier)
Quand : Jeudi le 13 octobre à 16h00

Alibi : Observation d’oiseaux au Refuge d’oiseaux migrateurs du Parc des Rapides
Quand : Dimanche le 30 octobre à 15h00
Où : Rendez-vous sur la 6ième avenue, au coin du boulevard LaSalle à LaSalle [devant l’entrée du stationnement]
(De là, on se rendra au Refuge d’oiseaux migrateurs)

Dans l’espoir que nous pourrons partager un peu de temps ensemble ce mois-ci, joignez-vous à moi -si ça vous dit !

À noter : les deux rendez-vous impliquent une promenade; des chaussures de marche confortables sont recommandées !

Doing Nothing = Time Outside of Time


I started addressing the topic of the “in-between” in my previous post, referring to a “peculiar prolonged interstice,” in particular as connected to the Buddhist retreat and my cousin’s passing. So I wanted to return to say more about that space-time interval. And how it relates to this project. And its impact on time.

I’ve been exploring the in-between in my performance practice for a number of years, but have been experiencing new angles on this phenomenon since this past spring. It moves back and forth between being deeply intellectual (exciting my neurons and making my synapses fire) and being deeply embodied – which is the case for me now. I’ve been struck by how potent a bodily sensation this is, emerging like an actual feeling: one that keeps recurring and accompanying me during these deliberately set-aside moments of Doing Nothing.

In the case of the Buddhist retreat, it seemed like my feet never quite touched the ground. Although by the same token, I was feeling very aligned, and in my body.

Clearly it’s hard to describe. It’s like another level of consciousness that, in its very (self) awareness somehow uncannily manages to slow down time. More than that, it makes time feel like it’s stopped. As if, while being in these moments, I am also looking through a window, not so much with a watchful eye but with a peripheral vision of things passing by… This indirect receiving creates a kind of meta awareness which somehow produces another framing of experience. Like opening up a space within a space. By extension, engendering another perception of time: Time Outside of Time. (The retreat was once such instance, and its occurrence, right at the precipice of my cousin’s passing – from life into death, and whatever comes after – further amplified this threshold state).

I’d been writing about the links between subtle performative interventions (infiltrating actions/imperceptible performances), and notions of “non-productive” uses of time only to realize that when we put forth such actions, we are not only highlighting an endemic disgust toward “failure” but also very deliberately creating a gap: opening up a space-time interval that necessarily reveals various aspects of our work-obsessed culture. There is, essentially, no time for Doing Nothing. I quote myself here:

“Where “work” does not neatly conform to a conventional understanding of production, does not enter into the economy of readily consumed material goods and further does not ascribe to a standard set of “useful” skills, and yet does sit, and assert itself, even if awkwardly, amidst this dominant framework, a space for negotiation is opened up. Between the cracks of faulted foundation there germinates alternative ways of being in the world: performance. This assertion by the performer is risky because it does not necessarily bring great financial reward. It is risky because it posits thinking “outside the box.” It is risky because it falls too easily outside of the frame entirely. Where is the skill? Where is the art? Risky because performance embraces the slippery space between the stage and the “rest of the world” actively courting the unknown, the unexpected, the unforeseen. Often without a safety net.

A “non-productive” use of time (durational performance, furtive practices, the doing of “nothing”), as displayed in public (place) takes risks as it becomes political, activates a space. The “infiltrating” action – a transgressive occupation of space – becomes such a use of time, in “non-productivity.” A performance, some kind of trajectory and living discourse as an investment with the territory in the doing of an action not engaged with production of capital or consumption of goods becomes an act of resistance and dissent. Making the artist’s body vulnerable. Whether inflicting pain on oneself or sitting quietly on a bench [or in the case of this project, ostensibly “doing nothing”], the artist is questioning modes of production and consumption at every level. Ultimately these performances are demonstrations of some kind of greater failure, of failure to conform to capitalist norms in the eyes of a prevailing dominant culture. Paradoxically they are a success, successfully (even if subtly) revealing the construct that promotes complacency.

Again, such actions perform resistance, are transgressions, puncturing a hole into the daily grind as they open up a space for other possible realities to exist. They posit time in between time, for in the middle of linear action (I get up, I eat breakfast, I go to work, I come home) they provide a détournement, a way around that comes back on itself and holds up a mirror – to itself, to the rest of the world.”

Doing Nothing as a way to stop time.
Time Outside of Time as a form of resistance.

Doing Nothing on the Sly


I had a secret Nothing. An unannounced retreat that happened this past weekend. Though I had been planning this for some time, I mostly kept it under wraps with the idea that I probably wouldn’t talk about it publicly.

Why? Good question. Because despite the fact that this project is largely aiming to bridge the gap between art and life in the most far-reaching way possible, I still find myself holding certain cards very close to my chest. My Buddhist faith is one of them.

So what changed my mind? Good question. I experienced an incredible coalescing of timings; my dear cousin Susan (to whom I dedicate this post) died while I was on my way to the retreat. And as a result the weekend was spent holding grief and sorrow, while deepening an examination of those big life events – in particular, the sufferings of sickness and death. And this led to a peculiar, prolonged interstice.

Here is what I wrote in my journal:
“… Just how much did I realize / foresee that this retreat would be like a residence; an extension of the Doing Nothing project, but one that sits at the very centre of it. That straddles not only the intersection between art + life, but between life + death; this world + the next one; this space + time an extended interval that, by its very nature of existence (and geographical location) acts as the perfect place to be, to be receiving / locating / sitting with this circumstance so present: Susan’s passing. Her passage, and my own.


… And I don’t know that I’ve ever been in an in-between quite this long.
État Second.

The retreat as Time Outside of Time.”

Doing Nothing on the CBC

CBC radio’s Daybreak was curious to hear about my Summer Slacking. As a result I had a nice little chat with host Mike Finnerty about the virtues and complexities of collectively Doing Nothing – all in 4 minutes! You can listen to that interview here:

How To Stop Time


OK, first off, the weather was impeccable. And the possibility to take this time and just chill was lovely. But extremely challenging nonetheless! See, the idea of resting at the dock was basically an extension of my daily walk. And the thing about the daily walk is that it’s very rare I actually sit for longer than five minutes. So believe it or not, this 2 x slacking (which turned into 3, I went back again on the “rain date”) was hard to do! Not only because it was incredibly busy with tons of other slackers (people swimming, fishing, boating, listening to music, drinking beers and being generally rowdy) but because it came right at the time when I have finally started to enter back into my regular routine (i.e: sitting at my computer for several hours a day). So for sure… being in this beautiful setting, I was also feeling the pull to have to “get back to work.”


…It’s one of the reasons why I decided to stay for a full two hours each time. Because it took several minutes just to arrive, then several more to let myself commit to really being here. That kind of unwinding process that happens when you do finally stop. And the time it takes for your mind and body to eventually catch up too…


2 x Nothing: Summer Slacking on the Dock


So I’m back on my feet and summer is not over yet!
And because I haven’t had my full fix of quiet times by the water
I plan to hang out on the dock and do nothing.
Feel free to join me:

When: Aug. 24 and Aug. 29 at 3pm
(the second date will be on Aug. 30, if rain).
Come just the one time or both, as you like***

Where: on the dock on the river in Verdun. Which one? If coming off of LaSalle boul. It’s between Richard and Brault streets (Verdun metro)

***2 options: Come meet us by the water (at 3pm)
or come accompany me on my daily walk.
If the latter, let’s meet at 2:20pm at de l’Église metro, Wellington exit, upstairs outside (corner Wellington and Galt)


Pour célébrer
la fin de l’été
Avant la rentrée
Rendons-nous au quai!

Pour quoi faire? Pour rien faire!
Rassemblons-nous pour se reposer ensemble…

Quand : le 24 août à 15h et le 29 août à 15h
(ce dernier remis au 30 août, en cas de pluie).
Venez une fois ou les deux, à votre goût***

Où : le quai sur le fleuve à Verdun. En descendant de boul. LaSalle, ce sera entre rue Richard et rue Brault (métro Verdun)

***2 options : Venez nous rencontrer sur le quai (15h)
ou bien, marchez avec moi sur mon parcours quotidien. RDV à 14h20 métro de l’Église, sortie Wellington, sur la rue (coin Wellington et Galt)

Talking Head’s Take On Nothing

A clip of my all-time favourite group, from my all-time favourite concert film, Stop Making Sense. I especially love how, in the middle of the song, the camera shifts focus to stagehands preparing for the next number: the beautiful banality of the background, of the something we’re usually not supposed to notice, suddenly brought forward, while we contemplate the band’s poignant take on Nothing…

“Everyone is trying
To get to the bar
The name of the bar
The bar is called heaven

The band in heaven
They play my favorite song
Play it one more time
Play it all night long

Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

There is a party
Everyone is there
Everyone will leave
At exactly the same time

It’s hard to imagine that
Nothing at all
Could be so exciting
Could be this much fun

Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

When this kiss is over
It will start again
It will not be any different
It will be exactly the same

It’s hard to imagine
That nothing at all
Could be so exciting
Could be this much fun

Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens”

Written by David Byrne, Jerry Harrison • © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc