View Slideshow Mercer Union, 37 Lisgar Street, Toronto June 6 - July 12 2008, Tue-Sat, 11AM-6PM
Recent Activity Reports


it’s already a bit unruly…

July 14th, 2008

and it pretty much has a mind of its own, yet I often do try to keep it in line.

My hair, that is.

Ever since I was a kid, if a person makes a remark about my appearance, it is usually to say something about my hair.  There was a time when this really bothered me.  My mom likes to tell stories about how as a toddler I used to respond indignantly to people (generally older women) who commented on my hair:

“Where did you get such lovely hair?”

“I was born with it!  What do you think?!”


“Look at your beautiful red, curly hair!”

“It’s not red, it’s blue!”

Anyhow, while reactions to my hair don’t bother me anymore (and I’ve learned to take a complement when it comes), I find that when I’m concerned about my appearance I tend to think about my hair.  I have learned over the years what helps keep it less frizzy, and developed various strategies that have become second nature:  not brushing it when it’s dry (which is rule #1 for curly hair.  I am sad to say that being from a family of folks with straight hair, this realization came quite late for me.  A good decade or so of my life was spent as a frizz ball), I also pin it up to dry, try to avoid over-washing it, etc.  While this routine doesn’t require very much effort or time, my hair is something that I am aware of perhaps more than I need to be.  I am interested in the challenge of pushing my comfort zone around my physical appearance by letting it (and making it) be really big and untamed.

[As a side note, I told my mom about this license, and she raised her eyebrows.  She thinks that my hair is already really big and untamed.  She obviously doesn't appreciate the vast potential that curly hair has for bigness...and it is vast.]

So…here is a picture of my hair on a pretty typical day.  Big, yes…and a tad frizzy, but believe it or not, I would say this under control.  In fact, this would be a pretty good hair day in my world.

001-1 Body part: hands LICENSE TO GIVE LICENSES

Three birds with one stone

July 12th, 2008

Three birds with one stone, wow! This was on July 4th at the Drake café, while sitting at the next table, a couple of Finns and a Japanese lady (this is getting exotic…) I have to confess that the further my licenses can travel, the happier I am. Of course a virtual trip into the parallel bit-world is also very satisfying.

The three friends had a serious talk about their boundaries and hidden fantasies before all three engaged in taking licenses from the lining of my vest. One of them suggested I should bring my licenses to the psychology department at U of T. His input for a new license was “License to be disinhibited while sober” because he could only meet “the monster” as he calls it (his suppressed personality) when he was drunk non stop for three days, and would like to be more conscious when it happens. I thought this license was the most representative of what I’m inviting people to do with this project: go beyond their presumed capacities and meet a part of themselves they’re not very acquainted with.

My own “mission” as a licensee (with a license to give licenses) is to live my own invented system, the Licentious Anonymous project. That led me to meet my own “monsters”, namely the obsessive/perfectionist, the lazy, the broker/matchmaker, the dreamer, the systematic/micro-manager and many others, all fighting for a front seat.

Today is the last day at the gallery, but not the last as a Licentious Anonymous agent. The project will continue online with the possibility of getting a license though e-mail, and live, whenever I feel like dressing up and turning into an office on two legs out and about in the world. Here is what my nomadic office looks like. I’m looking forward to meeting you or hearing from you through e-mail (go to CONTACT).

007-4 Body part: hands LICENSE TO BILL

I feel exhausted

July 11th, 2008

It’s done. I sent the first job application of my life, and I had to ask 3 highly respected professionals to be reference persons and they all accepted with much support and excitement! What a bill…

007-4 Body part: hands LICENSE TO BILL

Permission to produce a new law

July 7th, 2008

Since as long as I remember, I have always been ashamed about giving myself the right to anything. Others made me feel like I had no right, like I was disturbing them. I have always seen others fighting for rights while it felt like such a useless waste of time and energy to me… I want to solely give myself to the opening up to unexpected experiences of life instead of being the one who builds barriers, between me and a world of happiness. At all times, I want to spend more time enjoying life rather then withholding myself from it.

Even if I have been naturally driven to embrace life as a whole, I have had to refrain due to what others perceived as egocentrism. I have then always done things for myself without making it known or shared with others. Thus all I have given to them has been but a few words.

License to kill?… the barrier that will make me openly in love with myself!… with a bill, making everyone know I am worth a lot and acknowledging my worth. 

Well… once I decided I deserved to bill, that’s when I decided to stop…

I was so excited about having a license that I all at once told misses “License to give licenses” I would make a documentation of her work and bill her. I wanted to do this for pleasure in any case and I was contradicting that freedom by asking for money. Then I said of course it would be a bill that she did not have to pay and then realized I imposed my offer and bill without having been asked for it!

I just don’t know how to bill.

And it’s perfect because I don’t want to.

Coincidence is that I am applying for a job which doesn’t need me to bill. A job with a salary, a great salary and many other advantages. That is the real license I am giving to myself, my first job application, ever.

The applications are to be sent by the end of the week and I should get an interview within a few weeks…

This is my new license and the “license to bill” has opened up my eyes.



It’s just lunch. Just a memorable one.

July 7th, 2008

I’m a painfully shy woman who created a replacement licence to “smile at straight men”.  I’m terrified of strangers, although I’m adept at hiding it.  So, WTF made me think I could have the courage to just have lunch with a complete stranger?

My understanding was that I had only 72 hours to act on this mission. I selected this licence on Friday afternoon.  I procrastinated on Saturday and Sunday by rationalizing that people eat brunch, not lunch, on weekends. 

So, the dreaded Monday arrived; I now only had two-hour window to do this.  I figured that a lunch counter would be full of solo eaters, so I headed over to a casual Japanese restaurant inside Village by the Grange, fidgeted on a stool at the empty counter, and ordered cold noodles and takoyaki (octopus dumplings).  If nobody sits down by the time I’m finished eating, I’d have to go elsewhere afterwards and have a second lunch!

This young fellow walked in, carrying a helmet.  He sat down at the counter, and had trouble opening a bottle of Ramune (which is understandable – see Wikipedia entry).  I made some small talk about Ramune, and before I knew it, I was showing him my licence badge, along with a copy of the Globe & Mail article about the art project (just so he wouldn’t think I was making it all up).

John was part of the construction crew renovating the AGO, across the street from the restaurant.  I told him I hated my job as an office drone.  He told me he’d been thinking about teacher’s college for a while.  Maybe most of us would rather be doing something else, and the big mission in life is to seize that “something else.”

My cold noodles were finished, but my made-to-order takoyaki was still not ready.  John had to get back to work so he didn’t have a chance to sample any of the addictive dumplings. He quietly paid for my lunch, shook my hand, and headed off while I gaped in amazement.





Phoning your granparents every night

July 6th, 2008

This is a tricky one for me since they are not with us any more. I am going to work on my thoughts thinking about them every night. Something that I actually would never do.


Inventing anything I want about my life

June 27th, 2008

I now have a license to invent any biographical fact about anyone I want. In exchange, I am asking someone to do something I would never dare: to cut to the front of a long lineup.

011-3 Body part: feet LICENSE TO WEAR HIGH HEELS

Why does it always hurt to look feminine?

June 27th, 2008

Ok, I’m ready for my license-day. This are my 70s shoes, I even found a matching green blouse in my wardrobe. The shoes are so cool, only on my feet they looks strange. I feel more elegant and taller, kind of ‘Barbie’ aura. But ‘walking’ sounds awful. I’m always wearing flat shoes and walk quite fast. Maybe because my boyfriend is almost two meters I’m a quick walker. One step of him is two of my and I do have a ‘heavy’ step. That’s why I sound like a marching soldier on my heels. Not elegant and feminine at all. But I will try to pas my license.
I started the day working on my computer, not bad at all, sitting with high heel shoes. After my computer work I went to my studio on the attic of our building. That’s when I started to feel very uncomfortable. First the sound of going up the staircase and there are three apartments under my studio where people live. I always move around a lot, so after half an hour I took of my shoes and put on my ‘crocs’. I like to work quietly and silently. If I was getting distressed by my own footsteps, how would it sound to my fellow occupants?! After work I descended the staircase on my bare feet.
I have to confess that I did my quick, round the corner shopping’s with my sandals on. But back home I felt guilty immediately. I promised myself to do this thing the hole day and now I was skipping it. So I decided I would be brave and finish my license day with the same enthusiasm as I started it. I walked to and from the sports club on my ‘license-shoes’ and kept them on the whole evening after. It is almost 23.00 hours, my toes start to hurt. I released the straps around my ankles a few hours ago, so I could wobble my feet now and then. In a while I call it a day and sit down with a nice glass of wine and naked feet. But……. without this license I actually don’t think I would ever have worn these shoes, now I will for a party night!


Why I chose this license

June 26th, 2008

Sometimes you just wander, what are these people walking around thinking about all to themselves. Knowing what music they are listening to tells you (or hints at) all sorts of things about their mood, personality, thoughts, etc. I like to know what people are doing privately in public. This license is a bit invasive maybe, but also potentially harmonious because music is a good common-ground for discussion and social lube.


Hungry, you free thinkers?!

June 26th, 2008

As soon as I left Anne Fauteux’ exhibition mid-June, I went to a little café on Dovercourt between Queen & Dundas. I wanted to taste the other custommer’s food, but their plates were either empty or almost. So my friend Penelope & I ordered food and we took pleasure at picking at eachother’s plates. Yum, that was yummy!!
Still wearring my badge : “Licence to pick in other people’s plates”, I got to the sausage stand in front of the Central train station. No one was around, so I couldn’t pick… I had a veggy doggy with sauerkraut, mustatrd and pickles! Ohhh la la!
In the train back to Montreal… no food looked appealling enough to pick from. So I had my own prepared lunch. What more can i say???
I’ll try again soon, don’t worry…
Hungry me