Massive Party: a Space Odyssey

March 13th, 2017

On April 27, Machine Age Massive – the year’s hottest art party that supports the AGO’s ongoing conservation, public programming and learning projects – will turn the Art Gallery of Ontario into three artistic zones: Industrial, Digital, and Space, where attendees can snack on hors d’oeuvres, dance to tunes from the DJ, and surround themselves with contemporary installations and performances (all included in the ticket price, a portion of which is tax-deductible).

We’ve already introduced you to one artist, Jon Sasaki, who’s taking over the AGO for Massive Party with an inflatable 90-metre smokestack and an interactive dance floor under the theme of “Industrial Age.” This next artist is prepared to take partygoers into the next stratosphere.

Harley Valentine. Image courtesy of the artist.

Harley Valentine is famous for his public sculptures, including one that stands in front of the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts called Dream Ballet. Though he draws from ancient texts and inspirations, like Greek mythology, he also uses modern technology to build prototypes and to fabricate his large installations. Lately, Harley has been equally inspired by dance in his sculptures.

“I love contemporary dance,” Harley told The Globe and Mail recently. “These days, that’s really modern sculpture to me.”

We asked Harley about his piece for Machine Age Massive.

AGO: How did you get involved in this year’s Massive Party?
Harley: Over the past two years I have been staging large-scale immersive sculpture installations, incorporating dance and the environment. As these works spread through social media, I believe the AGO caught wind. This is my first time participating.

AGO: Can you describe the piece you’re creating for this year’s party?
Harley: My work is titled Bodies in Motion, referencing the role of the artist as a builder and dreamer in modern society, illustrating both the physical and metaphysical strength required to create impactful works of art.

Centre stage will be a recreation of a studio, showcasing the artist’s labour in creating intuitive and/or accidental compositions by physically looping, weaving, and knotting a 200′ Cordian sculpture (a giant metal rope). Every hour the work will be redrawn, and these spatial drawings will be highlighted by dance and movement, choreographed by Robert Binet and performed by dancer Svetlana Lunkina who, on the hour mark, will emerge for the activation

AGO: How does it fit the theme of Machine Age?

A sample image of Bodies in Motion. Image courtesy of the artist.


Harley: Historically, artists are the underlying drivers of invention that push society forward, and this installation and performance seeks to draw out this concept through endurance performance. Here, the audience is delivered well-beyond a “Machine Age” arriving somewhere at a projected, imagined “Space Age” which is this specific installation’s overall theme.

AGO: “Modern technology” is listed as one of your inspirations in your work – how does technology manifest itself in your sculptures?
Harley: Invention is one of the world’s greatest art forms; this exists in materials, technology, finance, politics, etc. My role as an artist is to harness the inventions of our generation into a form that pushes self-expression to new heights. The audience is always looking for points of discovery in contemporary art (technology, environment, globalization, etc.), and using modern inventions is a direct link to our subconscious.

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