Tania A.

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A digital conversation between Leanne Powers (Instigatrix) and Tania A. (Witness)

Tania A.: I wandered into Leanne’s studio one Nuit Blanche [1] evening while her performance piece was taking place. I had my camera with me, and I asked if it was okay to shoot some pictures. The space was very tight and there were only a few places to stand. A number of people were shuffling around, coming and going, watching the scene unfold. Because the room was so overcrowded, I had to stand quite close to the people involved in the scene. The lighting was dim, but I pushed my camera to capture images in near darkness.

Leanne Powers: The six-hour performance piece was part of a larger event that included over twenty-six artists and was entitled Profound Fluff: We Play it Deep. The event was created in order to promote direct engagement with the erotic performance art within queer and trans communities.

Tania A.: Many of the piercings had already been completed when I arrived, and the scene was well underway. I knew the three people involved in the performance, as well as many of the people watching/participating in the room.

Leanne Powers: During the piece, I threaded dozens of piercings through the two co-creators (Eli and matt) and attached the piercings to long elastics that radiated outwards, tying the lines to poles and beams in the room. Over many hours, hundreds of people were invited to tie fabric strips to the piercing lines. Folks were encouraged to take time to imbue the fabric strips with wishes that were as specific as possible, to decide how and where to tie the fabric, and to interact with me and my collaborators as much as they wanted. I wanted people to understand their participation as an act of intimate engagement.

Tania A.: I watched as Leanne pierced Eli’s third eye. matt was hogtied and lying front down on the floor, his head turned to one side. Eli stood close but did not touch him. I watched as people tied their wishes to the piercing lines; I felt their emotions and observed their expressions. I noticed that if one piercing line was moved, both Eli and matt were affected.

Leanne Powers: Through the pain, pleasure, and emotional work of this ordeal/performance, I was able to extend the reach of my body and my will, first through matt and Eli and then outward into the public realm. I wanted to facilitate an experience that allowed a much larger group of people to experiment with play, to experiment with taking up power/privilege and to directly confront issues of consent. Some people engaged with relish, others by asking curious questions, while some appeared worried. There were jokes, long mediations, and tears. There were rhymes, kisses, and offers to help bring refreshments, take photos and clean up.

Tania A.: That evening, my desire was to remain true to my practice as a photographer, to bear careful witness, to allow myself to enter into a moment and be moved, and participate in my own way. I wanted to be able to translate some part of what happened there in my pictures. I had no idea that this group of images would ultimately become its own art piece, and I am very pleased to be able to contribute this retelling to the life of the original performance.

Leanne Powers: My co-creators and I still talk, touch each other, and process the performance piece as an important point in our development as a leather family and as community members. Wishers from that night more than 18 months ago continue to share their memories and reflections with us as we continue our work/lives/performances.


1. Nuit Blanche is a free, all-night public arts festival that takes place annually in Toronto, Ontario.


Tania A. is a Toronto-based photographer and multi-media artist. For over a decide, Tania has focused on photographically documenting public events and performances, making portraits, photographic personalities, creative people, and boundary pushers within queer and BDSM communities. As an engaged and careful witness, Tania strives to honour and celebrate the experiences of people who are often misrepresented and who may not have the opportunity to experience themselves through a medium such as photography. Through time, Tania has developed a unique and multifaceted photographic record that documents queer histories and happenings within a constantly shifting social landscape.

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