Home / News & Media / Press Releases / Gardiner Museum announces world premiere of new performance work by internationally-acclaimed artist Cassils

Gardiner Museum announces world premiere of new performance work by internationally-acclaimed artist Cassils

3 years ago

TORONTO—On February 20, the Gardiner Museum will present the world premiere of a new performance work by internationally-acclaimed artist Cassils. Cassils, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Montreal, draws on feminism, body art, gay male aesthetics, and extreme physical training to make powerful statements about non-binary and trans visibility.

Newly-commissioned by the Gardiner, Up To and Including Their Limits debuts at a moment when increased trans visibility is coinciding with growing violence against trans people and challenges to trans rights. Cassils makes viewers confront this tension by pushing their body to the brink while a live audience looks on. Their past works have involved being set on fire, melting an ice sculpture with pure body heat, and pummeling a 2,000-pound block of clay.

In Up To and Including Their Limits, Cassils pays homage to the late feminist icon Carolee Schneemann, using clay to reimagine her historic performance piece Up To and Including Her Limits (1971-76) from a trans non-binary perspective.

Suspended from a harness in a plexiglass box with walls covered in thick raw clay, Cassils will use their mechanics and equilibrium to launch themself back and forth, clawing, swinging at the walls, and hurling chunks of clay to the floor. As they remove swaths of clay, Cassils will create “windows” through which the audience can see the performative action, problematizing and complicating the audience’s gaze by engineering voyeurism into the work itself.

“The folks at the Gardiner Museum have been incredibly open to letting me try new ideas that I have yet to fully test. It feels good, and terrifying, to experiment in public,” said Cassils.

“Cassils’ use of clay to shape our understanding of the non-binary body has transformed our perception of both the material and trans identity,” said Chief Curator Sequoia Miller. “This entirely new work deepens that relationship, raising questions of spectatorship, subjecthood, violence, and control. Attentive to histories of feminism and performance art, Cassils work has the power to re-frame how we understand ourselves and our relationships to each other, in part through the medium of raw clay.”

Tickets go on sale January 30 at 10 am and are priced accessibly at $25 or $10 (students/artists/arts workers/unemployed/underemployed). With only 100 available, demand is expected to be high. For those unable to secure tickets in the initial sale, the Gardiner will run free weekly ticket giveaways on social media leading up to the performance.

Up To and Including Their Limits was commissioned as part the special exhibition RAW, which opens to the public on March 5. RAW features new work by Cassils, Magdolene Dykstra, Azza El Siddique, and Linda Swanson, all of whom are working with unfired clay in innovative and surprising ways.

The remnants of Cassils’ performance, including the plexiglass structure, harness, and clay, will remain on view throughout the exhibition alongside video documentation of the piece.

Up To and Including Their Limits will take place on February 20. RAW runs from March 5 to June 7.

Visit www.gardinermuseum.com to learn more.


Cassils is a visual artist working in live performance, film, sound, sculpture and photography. Cassils has achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture. It is with sweat, blood, and sinew that Cassils constructs a visual critique around ideologies and histories. Cassils received their Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax (1997) and their Master of Fine Arts in Art and Integrated Media from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia (2002). Their work has been shown in exhibitions worldwide; solo exhibition venues include Perth Museum of Contemporary Art, Perth; Station Museum, Texas; and Ronald Feldman Gallery (NYC) and Trinity Square Video (Toronto). They have also received several awards, fellowships, and residencies, including support from the Canada Council for the Arts (2020), John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), Creative Capital (2015) and is a Villa Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Fellow.


The Gardiner Museum brings together people of all ages and backgrounds through the shared values of creativity, wonder, and community that clay and ceramic traditions inspire.

The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art was founded by Toronto businessperson and philanthropist George Gardiner and his wife Helen in 1984, and was established in a building designed by Keith Wagland on the campus of Victoria University in the University of Toronto. The Museum was managed by the Royal Ontario Museum from 1987 to 1996 and then, with an additional endowment from George Gardiner before his death in 1997, became and remains an independent, non-profit museum. The Gardiner’s remarkable building was substantially renovated in 2004 by KPMB Architects.

The Gardiner Museum’s collection of ceramics comprises approximately 4,000 objects, and focuses on specific areas which have been collected in depth. These include the most important collection of European porcelain in Canada, with particular strengths in Meissen, Vienna, and Hausmaler decorated porcelain, as well as a comprehensive collection of figures inspired by the commedia dell’arte. It holds the best collection of Italian Renaissance maiolica in Canada, and a superb collection of English tin-glazed pottery. The Gardiner preserves highly significant collections of ceramics from the Ancient Americas, Chinese blue and white porcelain, Japanese porcelain, and contemporary Canadian ceramics. It also houses a research library and archives, clay studios, award-winning Shop, and a restaurant.

The Gardiner Museum is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics, and is one of the world’s most notable specialty museums. For more information, please visit: www.gardinermuseum.com.


Media Contact:
Rachel Weiner
Senior Manager, Marketing
Gardiner Museum

Co-presenting Sponsors

Kim Spencer McPhee Barristers PC; The Rooney Family Foundation

Similar Articles