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Shannon Cochrane, Silent Dinner, 2015, FADO Performance Art Centre/Progress Festival The Theatre Centre, Toronto. © Henry Chan

Shannon Cochrane
From November 19th 2019 to December 14th 2019
Silent Dinner

Residency of Shannon Cochrane
November 19 - December 14, 2019
Video Documentation (2015) in gallery
From November 19 to December 13, 2019

Performance Saturday, December 14 from 12 pm to 7 pm, followed by a Q&A period. Note that there will be ASL and LSQ interpreters at the gallery all day during the performance.
Event here


Saturday with the Family: December 14, 2019, 12 pm to 4 pm

Vocabulary is to language as ingredients are to a recipe: how to cook a silent dinner

I have a recurring dream in which I take a job as a server in a café. My first day gets off to a good start until my section starts to fill up with customers. I write down my first order before I remember that I don’t know where the kitchen is. I start to search, opening every door and running through labyrinthine hallways. At each turn, I end up right where I started. The habit of movement. I beg every member of staff I meet to tell me where the kitchen is and even though I follow every pointed finger, I’m still lost. If this wasn’t already bad enough, each time I emerge into the main dining room, my section has grown. More and more tables, full of customers waiting to be served. I attempt to take all the orders at once but I can’t hear anything. It’s though people are talking to me from far away, from the other side of a long tunnel, their voices becoming more and more faint. I read once that every sentence any one has ever uttered has already been said. There is no combination of words that is wholly unique. The deep groove of language, like a broken record. Suddenly, I realize that everyone in the café is speaking a different language, each one their own broken record, and I wake up.

For Silent Dinner, the gallery is transformed into a working kitchen. Over the course of seven hours, a group of people prepare, cook and eat a meal together. Throughout the performance, each one is engaged in the task of resisting their languages of origin. Here, in the space of the performance, language is intentionally deprioritized as a strategy to make visible communication and negotiation as an embodied practice. Our dinner table becomes the meeting place for the intersection of culture and language (hearing and Deaf culture, English and French, ASL and LSQ) and the invitation is to sit, however uneasily, with the tensions between them.

Silent Dinner is collectively created by Shannon Cochrane, Martin Bélanger, Sylvain Gélinas, Mathew Kuntz, Mathieu Lacroix, Lamathilde, kimura byol-nathalie lemoine, Jennifer Manning, Marie-Pierre Petit and Hodan Youssouf.

As a group, we are a mix of artists, performers, actors, filmmakers, magicians, artist-run culture geeks, curators, archivists, organizers, event planners, teachers, activists, queers, feminists, moms, all-gendered, refugees, immigrants, settlers, English, French, hearing and Deaf. Nine Montrealers and a Torontoian.

Shannon Cochrane

Martin Bélanger has been active on the professional art scene since 1992. His approach is characterized by a broadened practice. As a performer, actor, collaborator, counselor, and choreo-grapher, he takes part in projects that range from experimental theater to contemporary dance, including the interdisciplinary, He completed a bachelor degree at Université du Québec à Montréal in 1997. His work has been presented throughout Canada as well as in New York City, Berlin, Geneva, Bergen (Norway), Helsinki, France and Japan. Parallel to his own creations, he collaborated with Jacob Wren, Benoît Lachambre, Carole Nadeau, kondition pluriel, Line Nault, Isabelle Schad, Michael Toppings, Epsilon Lab et Oli Sorenson. A lot of these engagements led to national and international touring. In 2004, he founded his company Productions Laps. He has been commissioned by several institutions such as Montréal Danse, LADMMI l'école de danse contemporaine, the School of Dance of Ottawa, Dancemakers, and by several independent artists such as Peter Trosztmer, Sarah Williams and Ève Garnier. He directed creative workshops with Le Groupe dance Lab, Studio 303 and at La B.A.R.N. (10 Gates Dancing, Tedd Robinson). He has been a program officer for the Canada Council for the Arts from 2013 to 2016 and now works at DLD - Daniel Léveillé Danse in administration.

Sylvain Gélinas is deaf and has Usher syndrome. Born in Senneterre (Abitibi), he holds a college diploma (AEC) in communications with a specialization in cinema from Collège Rosemont. He studied French at Cégep du Vieux-Montréal. Gélinas has produced short, medium, and feature-length films and continues to develop his creative talents in “cinéma sourd” (deaf cinema) with his team. He has won important awards, which enabled him to launch his production company, Cinéall, in 1999, wich offers production services in alternate LSQ and ASL formats. These adaptations on video and DVD media aim to transpose content expressed in a spoken or written language into a visual language more accessible to the deaf.

Mathew Kuntz was born in Alberta and is currently living in Montreal with his marvellous beau. He is a multidisciplinary talent working as an actor, singer, writer, event planner and educator. He is an active animator and supporter of Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities across Canada through the development a variety of creative projects.

Mathieu Lacroix lives and works in Montreal. He has a Bachelor’s in visual arts from Université du Québec à Montréal. Since 2003, he has participated in several group exhibitions in artists’ centres and cultural events in Quebec. A member of the Pic-nique collective, Lacroix draws inspiration from recycling and incorporates cheap materials into his works. The cardboard box serves as both primary motif and as critique of consumer society in his multidisciplinary practice, which includes installations, drawing, photography, and performance.

Lamathilde is video/sound/performance artist. Sound is at the core of her practice investigating sexuality and gender. Lamathilde has founded lesbian artist collectives, a women’s work co-op and hosted her own radio shows. She is an avid collaborator, working with WWKA performance collective, Coral Short and many sound artists. Since 1999 Her work has been shown in many galleries and international festivals.

kimura byol-nathalie lemoine is a conceptual multimedia feminist artist whose work addresses identity through diaspora, ethnicity, colorism, post-colonialism, immigration and gender. kimura*lemoine is an activist archivist, currently working with ACA (Adoptees Cultural Archives), documenting adoptee’s cultural history through media and arts.

Born in Quebec and deaf by birth, Jennifer Manning has always been very active in the deaf community, both in Quebec and in Western Canadian, where she lived for 10 years. Her passion for the theatre began when she was very young. She was recently part of the cast in a Quebec Sign Language (LSQ) adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. She wrote short plays for deaf audiences at the Centre des Loisirs des Sourds de Montréal and has performed as an LSQ actor for the Guerilla Girls. Since the summer of 2019, she has begun translating songs in LSQ and ASL with the L-Expression performance troupe.

Marie-Pierre Petit was introduced to magic and the performing arts at eight years of age. She created her character, Clown Pafolie, alongside her father’s, the clown Pafou. They performed in several shows together. The day Pafou retired, Marie-Pierre (Pafolie) continued solo by presenting shows that were as brilliantly magical and fun. She then trained as a clown and took part in many events in collaboration with well-known organizations in the deaf community as well as for hearing audiences during awareness-raising activities.

Born in Somalia, Hodan Youssouf has been deaf since childhood. She immigrated to Canada in 1989 after a passage in France as a refugee with her brothers and sisters. Youssouf is now very active in the deaf community in Montreal. Working as an aid to deaf students at Gadbois elementary school since 2010, she also collaborates with Cinéall, an organization that strives to find innovative communications solutions between the deaf and hearing communities. With an interest in theatre, she also took part in the ASL adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in Toronto. Youssouf is a socially engaged poet and actress and has been involved in a slew of projects over the years, both in Quebec and abroad.

Martin Boucher (ASL/LSQ, TraduSigne)
Brigitte Giguère (LSQ, SIVET)
Jordan Mark Goldman (ASL)
Stéphanie Lamy-Therrien (ASL/LSQ, TraduSigne)
Mathieu Larivière (ASL/LSQ, TraduSigne)
Lina Ouellet (LSQ, SIVET)
Jennifer Roberts (ASL)
Sandra Saoumaa (ASL)

OPTICA has received the support of Conseil des arts de Montréal, the Fondation des Sourds du Québec and would like to thank intern Dominique Robb, the Vidéographe center and VIVA! Art Action.



Shannon Cochrane is a Toronto-based performance artist. Her work has been presented in museums, galleries and festivals across Canada and in over eighteen countries around the world. She is the Director of FADO Performance Art Centre and is a founding member and organizer of the 7a11d International Festival of Performance Art. Shannon’s practice is focused on manifesting/illustrating/wrestling with the tension between strategy and process; context and perception; and authorship and repetition.