I spent six hours at Pique on Saturday and cursed myself for making plans someplace else that evening. I didn’t know what to expect and then I didn’t want to leave. I would’ve totally stayed until the last performance ended at 12:30am and that means a lot coming from someone deeply committed to new Netflix releases. Saturday’s Pique, the spring edition of Debaser‘s quarterly event series, started with an IFFO movie screening of Shortbus (2006), featuring a Q&A with Chinese-Canadian actress Sook-Yin Lee.
This movie was another thing I didn’t want to end that night. It starts off with 10 minutes of explicit sexual content, “to get it out of the way to focus on the human relationships for the rest of the movie,” explains actress Sook-Yin Lee in the Q&A after. Set in an underground sexual salon in the early 2000s in New York City, this erotic LGBTQ comedy-drama explores the story of a couples therapist, a gay couple, a dominatrix, and other powerful personalities, all wanting to connect and be loved, at the end of it. It’s raw, it’s honest, and it “shows how much connection we are seeking now, coming out of the pandemic,” says Lee.
After, I explored two art installations that ran all night and then travelled between different rooms at the OAG and Club SAW to catch music shows and performance art. The first installation, Liquid Bytes by Ajeeb Sir, explored more-than-human techno-social imaginaries, presented by a human-machine duo primarily based on the web. The second installation, A vivid Coalition by Mesoma Onyeagba, presented vibrant and colourful paintings, inspired by the artist’s Nigerian heritage.
It was a surreal experience—I felt like Alice in Wonderland, surprised at every corner turned. The different locations of performances encouraged you to explore the OAG, Arts Court, and Club SAW, all connected by corridors and stairwells. The sold-out event attracted so many wonderfully creative people and photographers, it felt like an informal gathering of friends. I also had the pleasure of listening to MAGELLA‘s music set—equal parts electronic, experimental, and deeply emotional and jazz-inspired. Deidre‘s performance was a transcendental and ethereal avant-garde electronic and art production. The artist’s screams, crawling, and chaotic stage presence definitely instilled a sense of fear and admiration in me too.
Other performances included artists Slayverii, KAR33M, DJ Seiizi, Ouri, Casey MQ, NOVEMBER, and more. Safe to say, I will be staying until the end of the summer edition of Pique. This time, 20% of ticket donations were also donated to the Red Cross to help with humanitarian aid in Ukraine. Drinks were available for purchase at multiple bars throughout the venue, there was a free coat check, masks were required, and vaccination was checked before entering the space. Inclusive and accessible washrooms are available on every floor along with multiple elevators.
Visit thisispique.com to stay in the know about the next edition of the festival, COVID-19 policies, and accessibility information. Admission is usually pay-what-you-can and open to all ages.