Thom Sokoloski

Since his training in dance and theatre at LaMama Theatre in New York City, L’École Jacques Lecoq, Eric Hawkins and the Polish Laboratory Theatre in Paris in the early seventies, Thom Sokoloski has gone on to create, direct and produce over one-hundred works in New York City, Paris, Edinburgh, Brussels, Liege, Toronto, Buffalo, Avignon, Strasbourg, Lyon, Amsterdam, Munich, Nancy, Montreal, Vancouver and Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison.

After returning to Canada, he became a founding member of Toronto’s The Theatre Centre in 1979, which continues to provide opportunities for young adventurous avant-garde talent, the Native Theatre School and Autumn Leaf Performance. In the eighties he created the acclaimed punk-musical SID’S KIDS and video-dance work KAMIKAZE, then directed five operatic works of R. Murray Schafer, including RA inside the Ontario Science Centre and the 1985 Holland Festival. For Belgium’s Ars Musica he staged HERMES TRISMEGISTOS inside an abandoned cirque d’hiver and for the 1992 World Stage Festival it was staged inside Toronto’s Union Station at midnight. THE GREATEST SHOW, a carnival-opera was set in a public park with over 50 acts and 150 performers. Finally in 1993 he collaborated with media artists David Rokeby and Garine Torossian to create an interactive multi-media adaptation of Schafer’s REQUIEMS FOR THE PARTY GIRL.

He produced Michael Nyman and his Band, composer for Jane Campion’s film The Piano and Ahmed Hassan’s dance requiem 14 REMEMBERED, based on the tragic slaying of 14 young women at Montréal’s L’École Polytéchnique, both presented at Massey Hall, as well as the famed Master Musicians of Jajouka at Convocation Hall. These works were part of an annual series, Sonic Boom, that commissioned and presented cutting-edge events, from the Banff Centre, Montreal’s Chants Libres and Vancouver’s New Music Society, 21 by John Oswald and Holly Small, and a film-music event joining Atom Egoyan with Nexus Percussion ensemble and Peter Mettler with Evergreen Gamelan.

Thom’s artistry explores multi-disciplinary performance experiences. THE ANXIETY OF IMMORTALITY, part installation part performance, inspired by Jorge Luis Borges and the Ukrainian Holocaust, was staged throughout the lower floors of the Royal Ontario Museum. The DEATH OF VIRGIL was an immersive opera inspired by novelist Hermann Broch and composer Jean Barraqué with surround sound and video imagery. His electro-acoustic chamber opera ELECTRIC FLESH with music by Wende Bartley premiered at the Opéra de Lyon for the Musique-en-scène Festival 2000 and for the 2003 World Stage Festival, he created KAFKA IN LOVE a multi-media installation opera staged inside the Hart House swimming pool with synchronized swimmers, video projections and water puppets.

In 2000, he produced a tour of Claude Vivier’s KOPERNIKUS, an international co-production between the Banff Centre, Opéra de Montréal and the France’s Cultural Department AFAA. The tour included the 2000 Banff Summer Festival, the Musica Festival in Strasbourg, the Huddersfield Festival in England, the Opéra de Montréal and finally Toronto’s MacMillan Theatre.

His film works include a short-film about Tomson Highway for the 1991 Toronto Arts Awards, followed by an opera-film DOWN HERE ON EARTH for Moving Pictures Festival and KAFKA IN LOVE adapted from the performance for BravoFACT! He has consulted for the annual conference of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPSA) in Toronto and Vancouver, designed and organized The 21st Century Music-Theatre & Opera Symposium in 1993 and NEW-OP (The 4th International Meeting of Contemporary Music Theatre and Opera) in 1995. He acted as a consulting producer for Montreal’s Coleman & Lemieux Cie latest work with choreography by James Kudelka and counter tenor Daniel Taylor for its world premiere at Danse Danse 05-06 in Montréal and the 2006 Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa.

After garnering a reputation for innovative theatre practices within architectural and public spaces Thom moved away from theatre and opera to focus on conceiving large-scale interactive public art installations. In 2004, he worked with Executive Director Bill Marshall, founder of the Toronto International Film Festival, as Creative Director to launch the McLuhan International Festival of the Future in October 04. With INTERACTIVE 2005 for the Toronto International Art Fair, he produced, and co-curated with Clara Hargittay, fifteen interactive media artworks from Montréal, Toronto and London, England whose works were positioned in public spaces.

In 2006 he spoke at Berlin’s Transmediale Festival of Digital and Media Culture on new public interactive media art and completed a residency at Montréal’s La Société des arts technologiques [SAT], through a commission by the National Capital Commission in Ottawa, to design and realize the prototype and plans for THE BALLOONS, his web-based interactive public art work of 150 27-foot wrapped balloon structures for the Rideau Canal. This followed with CONFINEMENT OF THE INTELLECT, a large-scale public participatory installation for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, an homage to the mental health history of Queen Street West, curated by Clara Hargittay. In 2007 he curated for Le Labo d’Art for CONTACT 06 and with Jenny Anne McCowan presented THE ENCAMPMENT (formally Confinement of the Intellect) in New York City on Roosevelt Island in partnership with Open House New York. This followed with a national version of THE ENCAMPMENT in Ottawa in partnership with the National Capital Commission and Canadian Association for Community Living.

In 2009, he was invited to curate Zone A of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. In 2010, he collaborated with Jenny-Anne to create THE RIVER PEACE, an independent project for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. In 2011, he curated an Independent Project (Scotiabank Nuit Blanche) presented by The Distillery Historic District entitled FUTURISM TODAY OR NOT! This followed in 2012 with DADA REBOOT! the second in a trilogy of his curatorial look at the three great multi-disciplinary art movements of the 20th Century again an Independent Project (Scotiabank Nuit Blanche) presented by The Distillery Historic District.

He was also commissioned by Chevrolet in partnership with Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2012 to create FUNHOUSE, a large-scale interactive installation that the public will be able to drive through and experience on Bay Street between Adelaide Street West and Richmond Street West.

In January 2013, exhibited The Erotic Life of Dreams in The Spoke Club Gallery, then curated Darkness at the Edge for The Propeller Gallery and received a commission from Art Toronto to create All the Artists Are Here.

For more background on Thom, please visit his website.

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