Canadian (born in England), b. 1942
Phoenix Wings and Horse Masks from Phoenix, 1984
sticks, string, paint, feathers, mirror reflectors
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from The Winnipeg Foundation
This installation consists of the remnants of a performance work by Michael Olito. On October 28, 1984, the artist performed Phoenix. The piece begins with a single drummer on stage invoking a gigantic horse. The artist, wearing a wooden primitive looking horse’s head, joins the drummer. The drumming stops and a person appears at the back of the room. Yelling, he rushes at the horse, beating him down. The drumming resumes and increases in intensity. The assailant retreats, the drumming ceases, the lights dim, and all is quiet. Then the drumming begins again, increasing in tempo as the lights comes up and the artist rises, wearing magnificent wings. In a highly ritualistic manner, this performance communicates optimism and hope.