Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Performance Anxiety

Toronto City Hall/Nathan Phillips Square

Curated by Heather Pesanti, you'll find a concentration of this exhibition's projects in and around Nathan Phillips Square and Toronto City Hall.

Near by

Pick up a map at Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West (At Bay Street).

Curatorial Statement

Performance Anxiety

Responding to recent developments in the genre of “live art” over the past several decades, Performance Anxiety will be an exclusively performance-based exhibition. Since the 1970s, performance art has increasingly been utilized as a zone for experimentation and risk-taking in contemporary art. Embracing the medium’s potential for failure, surprise, and triumph, Performance Anxiety will be curated in the spirit of a symphony, with events taking place throughout the night in City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. With both humour and pathos, the title plays on the anxiety one feels when faced with performing, as well as the universal plight that results from the daily projection of our private existence into the public sphere. The various artists and their respective performances will mine the range of human capabilities and emotions, including trickery, voyeurism, apocalyptic fear, political satire, technological innovation, death, destruction, and renewal; many will engage the public and spectator in their performative shenanigans. By definition, every project will flirt with the beautiful potential for unpredictability, failure, tragedy, success, and spectacle inherent in such real-time, live, and participatory actions and events.

— Heather Pesanti


Heather Pesanti is Senior Curator at The Contemporary Austin in Austin, Texas, organizing exhibitions including Marianne Vitale, Liam Gillick, Robert Therrien, and a forthcoming exhibition on experiential art in 2015. Prior to Austin, Pesanti was Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, where she organized the historical survey Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-garde in the 1970s. She is the University of Texas Viewpoint Spring 2014 lecturer, and holds masters degrees from the University of Oxford, England, and NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts.

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Performance Anxiety Projects

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