Arts + Culture » Visual Art

Nocturne 2020: Mo Drescher and Liliona Quarmyne cross the distance

A powerhouse art duo brings questions of connection to Nocturne.



f e e l i n g d i s t a n c e

Window performance, The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Gottingen Street

Fri Oct 16, 5-9pm

Remember life without social media? Without a cell phone? Remember shutting down your portal to the internet—rather than slipping it into your pocket?

“There’s this desire-shame dynamic with our technology,” says Mo Drescher as Liliona Quarmyne nods. The pair have been thinking about—and making art around—technology and connection since COVID-19 began.

When it comes to their Nocturne project, “There’s a huge cost to humans and the planet—on so many visible and invisible layers—that it, by necessity, has to be a part of the project,” Drescher says.

“It’s something that we’ve talked about and that contributes to a magnetism and revulsion of this thing: ‘Oh, I want it, I want it. If it’s away from me I’m not whole.’ That’s what Daren”—as in, their Nocturne project collaborator Daren Okafo—“was saying, but also this ‘Don’t put it near my body: It’s toxic, it’s not healthy’,” they add as Quarmyne slides her own cell phone across the table, face down and out of reach.

Drescher and Quarmyne have collaborated since 2017. Both are multidisciplinary artists: You probably know Quarmyne for her theatre work, choreography and dance, while Drescher’s performance art, drawing and mark-making are some of their calling cards. Together, the duo has shown work at The Khyber and Hermes—and been lauded by Canadian Art as two of 10 artists across the country who are “finding new meaning in networks of change.”

Put simply, if you haven’t yet been paying attention to two of the country’s most boundary-pushing artists, their Nocturne exhibit proves a good a place to start.

In f e e l i n g d i s t a n c e, Drescher and Quarmyne are building a performance based off anonymous information users submit to a website (—answers to “to explore their relationship to their bodies, the land, the things they hear,” as Quarmyne puts it. They don’t know exactly what it will look like the rainy Monday morning they meet at a downtown cafe for their interview with The Coast—but that’s part of the process and part of the point: “All these people feeding into this world—we don’t yet know what this world will look like. So then the performance will be our interaction with that world,” Quarmyne adds.

“Our hope is really that people will come to it in their own way, with whatever they happen to be in that moment. People could be passing The Bus Stop and carrying grocery bags and be like ‘What’s happening? Oh,’ and then suddenly they’re part of this project, whether they’re there for 10 seconds or whether they decide to stick around for a bit,” Quarmyne says. Adds Drescher: “People are going to get it on different levels.” Quarmyne nods: “And different moments in time."

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