Portrait by Luis Mora
Thom Sokoloski trained and worked in New York City and Paris in the early seventies (LaMama ETC in New York City, La Mama de Paris, L'Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Polish Lab Theatre, Edward Hawkins Dance, Open Theatre and NOW Theatre). His theatre experiments were presented in Paris, New York City, Buffalo, Munich Turin, and the Fringe Festivals of Edinburgh and Avignon.
Returning to Canada in the late seventies, he co-founded The Theatre Centre, the Native Theatre School and Autumn Leaf Performance. Besides creating original performance works, he directed, produced and toured theatre and/or opera by Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, Shakespeare, R. Murray Schafer, Claude Vivier, Rainer Wiens, Jean Piché, Alain Thibault, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Gavin Bryars, Wende Bartley, Christopher Butterfield, etc.
Presenters/partners included the Canadian Opera Company, Tapestry Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Biennale Musiques En Scène (Opéra de Lyon), Festival de Liège, Musica Festival (Strasbourg), Sound Symposium (NFLD), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), WorldStage Festival (Toronto) and The Banff Centre.
In 2004, he changed his course. Left the performing arts per se so to pursue more integrated concepts of performance. His experiential approach to site-specific public art installations and curatorial perspectives attracted new partners and commissions from Toronto’s McLuhan International Festival of the Future, Nuit Blanche Toronto, Art Toronto, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Open House New York, Socrates Sculpture Park (NYC), Galerie du Nouvel Ontario (Sudbury), Art Spin (Toronto), National Capital Commission, Nuit North (Huntsville), Le Laboratoire d'Art (Toronto), Burlington Public Art, etc.
His residencies have taken him from the interior of Amazonian rivers, the Aboriginal Shire of Mapoon (western Cape York in Far North Queensland, Australia and Mandvi (Gujarat India).
At 70-years young, he is working on several new public installation works, fine-tuning some photographic concepts and re-discovering the poetic flow of his fountain pen.
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My practice is interdisciplinary.
When beginning a project, I spend a lot of time in the designated site discerning how a concept, and its eventual realisation might shape an agora or shared public place. From weather, light and shadow to the history of public use and personal interactions. In other words, the elemental negotiations of the human body in a given space.
What phenomenology is at play? What gives rise to all the conditions of living and the freedom of perception? What could be the lay of the land wherein the artwork can intervene and evoke an uncommon presence, yet resonate a trusted ground, invite inclusive behaviour and impact the here and now with immediacy.
My aim has always been to manifest a formalised situation wherein the public can develop a critical consciousness through creative engagement; both of the world and of one’s role in that world; the intent of being.
Arguably, the public and its participation in this process offers infinite possibilities for stimulating inspiration and unexpected viscera between the familiar and unfamiliar. It is not apparent, or even logical how this comes about, but these elements do come together in a total expression of abstract emotions, perceptions, responses and states of awareness not yet routinized in everyday life.
&studio is a collaborative group of professional production consultants I call upon to plan, certify and execute public art projects which I am commissioned to create.
Evan Webber : Production Design
Jenny-Anne McCowan : Public Engagement Director, Choreographer & Education Consultant (Magenta Foundation for Photography - Flash Forward Incubator Curriculum & Educator)
Alfred Engerer : Glass and Plastics Production
Rob Sandolowich : Lighting Design & Production