Each teenage performer transports us into their own private refuge: a mini-universe of feelings and fixations to which outsiders would otherwise have no access. These bedrooms, each carefully curated by its owner, are micro-theatres in their own right. So too Brubacher’s photos share with theatre its essentially fleeting character; they capture a time and place that will soon disappear. This has something to do with the character of teen existence, the feeling of being poised on the nervous brink between adolescence and adulthood, between present and future. (The youngest performer in this group has just turned sixteen, announced by a birthday balloon.) The performers’ arresting poses—what Brubacher calls “still but not statuesque”—capture this anticipatory quality of the late teen years, as though we are witnessing the young actors hold ground, their bodies bracing against and hurtling into the life changes about to come. Many have since graduated high school and made first homes of their own. In fact, several of the rooms seen here no longer exist.
As durational performances, the photos record the ritual time of their making. Brubacher visited and shot photos of over forty bedrooms in four cities. As spectators move between clusters of photos in this PuSh installation, they reenact Brubacher’s travels between cast members’ homes, often scheduled back to back on the same day and separated by great geographical distance. Brubacher chose to mark the time of this process by leaving each space in its natural condition. The shadowy quality and long exposures of some photos is a record of her race against the daylight as she moved between bedrooms, privileging the light the performers normally live in—the unvarnished reality of their everyday existence.
The performers demand that we engage with them on their own terms, in their own—inescapably fugitive—time and space. “This is my room,” the photos utter in silent and confident unison. “Look.”
- Laura Levin, York University
The above text accompanied an exhibition of over 40 portraits in this series, at The Roundhouse in Vancouver, in January 2017. A related introduction to this project was previously published in Canadian Theatre Review.
Above, left to right, top to bottom: Davinder Malhi, Melisa Sofi, Rashida Shaw, Theo Gallaro, Sahra Del, Mick Robertson, Sofie Milito, Eartha Masek-Kelly, Ofa Gasesepe, Sofia Slater, Franco Pang, Bandile Phiri, Jovana Miladinovic, Emily Ong, and Shanna Anderson.
Portraits from This is my room. Look. have previously been exhibited at The Theatre Centre in Toronto; The National Arts Centre in Ottawa; and AVALANCHE Institute of Contemporary Art and Theatre Junction Grand in Calgary.
This is my room. Look. In Toronto Life Magazine