In May of 1985 a group of Toronto writers put on a day-long ‘writers-in-performance’ event called L’Affaire Pataphysique at a Queen Street West art gallery, Artculture Resource Centre, (ARC). The event was a performance event aimed at demonstrating artistically the Pataphysical approach to understanding.   Pataphysics, while being famous for its stubborn resistance to definition, can be understood as a branch of philosophy or science examining imaginary phenomena that exist in a world beyond metaphysics, or, the science of imaginary solutions.  In keeping with Pataphysics usual undertone of spoofing the seriousness of conventional thinking, L’Affaire Pataphysique was modelled on a Fair, and the art gallery was transformed into a Fair Grounds, with each of the 14 performers manning a booth at the Fair, with something to sell or give away to the public who wandered from booth to booth being entertained throughout the day by the performers who were each called upon at some point to showcase their Pataphysical wares in a performance, reading, lecture, dance, or, in one case, a demonstration of the art of sautéing fiddlehead ferns.  The fair was a conceptual performance event with each performer in persona, creating a carnival atmosphere in which the seriousness of quotidian life was replaced by the greater seriousness of revealing the true nature of things as seen through the lens of the Pataphysical imagination.

See L’Affaire Pataphysique part 2

Michael Dean,
Director of the Institute of Linguistic Onto-Genetics
Co-ordinator of L’Affaire Pataphysique

Richard Truhlar as Doug Upland being interviewed by Shaw Cable along with his handout:

bp Nichol at his booth, The Pataphysical Hardware Co.

bp sprinkling the head of Michael Dean for the Alfred Jarry look.   On a private note: when we developed this photo of bp I realized the cane on the table was one I gave him… I had to really push him to accept it… he was limping so badly.

Whitney Smith sautés fiddleheads,
Karl Jirgens performing

Pata — Feet for sale.


 John Riddell with Krista Jacobs and John with The Light Bulb Conspiracy, specially produced along with a slide show for L’Affaire.

Lledder Hanh Nhoj reading fortunes at his table.

Steve Smith (now known as Steven Ross Smith) MC.

Richard Truhlar/Doug Upland

Nick Power Solanum Tuberosum


Michael Dean

Karl Jirgens displays “Pata—Feet

Denise Bertrand/Madame Meridian

 Denise Bertrand in her suit of lights as Madame Meridian dance photos.
Denise made this suit with lights at the meridian points of the body, her performance was to dance with the lights off, hers was an evening performance, it was marvelous.

Mike Dean Introduces Solanum Tuberosum
Introduction halted by McCaffery protest from BIIPs.
Dean nails McCaffery to the wall.
Janine Mather, Chris Dewdney, & McCaffery perform.
Paul Dutton performs/illustrates how Southern Blues were derived from Irish folk music in Erse.
Adrian Fortesque / Brian Dedora at his boutique
A crossover from a previous Pataphysical event (the Symposium of Linguistic Onto-Genetics, 1981), the Guppy is given by the participants of L’Affaire who in turn receive the Guppy from the audience, but first an explanation…

The audience reciprocates:


Whitney Smith from Wild Culture gives his performance/demonstration.

Bob Bernecky, assistant to Whitney Smith, with a box of fiddleheads.

Glen Frew manages the book table.

jwcurry at the book table. Note Richard Shapcott wearing a bp Nichol thought balloon from The Pataphysical hardware Company.

Between the afternoon and evening performances a potluck dinner was held for the performers/participants: l. Adrian Fortesque, Madame Meridian, ?, Lisa Downes. Paul Dutton, jwcurry in white cap.

Susan Frykberg and b.h. Yael collaborated in a performance where they re-imagined
the Genesis story where the earth was first populated by women who were impregnated
from outer space and gave birth to men.  In these two photos at the entrance to the
Artist Resource Centre (ARC) you can see b.h.Yael in her costume second from right and
in the upper left of the grouping, Susan Frykberg in sunglasses and giving a “Guppy”.
b. h. Yael’s costume from behind.
Susan Frykberg at the mic.
Adrian Fortesque’s performance on Art Without Support. (Note the fingers of the able assistant Michael Dean.)
Michael Dean lending serious assistance.
Adrian pulls an artwork without support from package.
Surprise, surprise!!!
Doug Upland presents Adrian Fortesque with a performance award.