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Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun (Part VI), Zombies on Dundas West + Zombies in Trinity-Belwoods Park + Works Cited

Dundas West

Dundas West, image: Google Maps

Zombies on Dundas West

The examination of “zombie as Other” continues as the procession turns west onto Dundas Street. In a large, diverse city like Toronto, relationships and interactions are carried between neighbourhoods and along streets. While there is a set of characteristics which tend to typify Spadina Avenue, these traits are fluid rather than constrained. There are no hard divisions between different areas of the city. There is “a bit of Queen West” on Spadina and similarly, Chinatown does not end when one turns from Spadina onto Dundas. The section of Dundas West between Spadina and Trinity-Belwoods presents itself as an intersection of many neighbourhoods, peoples and performances of different cultures. With multicultural restaurants like Buddha’s Vegetarian Foods situated within metres of hubs of commerce like Kensington Market (an eclectic combination of stores and restaurants), both abutting institutionally-zoned spaces for Toronto Western Hospital and Sanderson Library, what the Zombie Walk encounters and joins is a performance of situations which reveal the contradictions of society (Kofman and Lebas in Lefebvre Writings 14).  As the procession continues into areas generally referred to as “Little Italy” and “The Annex,” the spontaneous performative nature of the Zombie Walk reflects the notion of “the city itself as a performing and performative entity or cultural product based on how people and other phenomena act, are seen to act or, indeed, are permitted to act” (Lefebvre 1996: 22). The definition of the urban space in Toronto creates a “network of relations and tensions between objects” (Kantor 217), which establish the foundation or “theatrical locus” (Ubersfeld 96) for the performance of everyday life. The Zombie Walk introduces an abnormal/fun performance which is a disruptive mapping onto the city streets, and in doing so reminds us that everyday life in Toronto is a product of encounters, relationships and performances. It is in the context of fun and the realm of play that the Walk is able to momentarily disturb the performance of the everyday, creating a situation where people and places familiar to the spectator are now made strange or foreign.

 

Zombies in Trinity-Belwoods Park

Returning to its starting point, the Zombie Walk ends at Trinity-Belwoods Park. The Park is a recreational place, founded on the ideas of community and fun, and serves as a gathering place, both for this performance and for city residents and visitors. It is a place separated from the traffic and business of the streets, and with an abundance of grass, trees and gardens, it could be considered “more natural”. It is in this space that the Walk comments on the definition of public and private spaces. Trinity-Belwoods is a protected area, set aside by the city for general use, but owned and managed by the corporation of the city of Toronto. The city’s website states that “one of the greatest strengths of our city is our wonderful parks system. Big or small, these parks offer everything from play to quiet relaxation. Our parks let you absorb the peace, quiet and natural beauty of the outdoors without leaving the city” (toronto.ca, Parks Listing). As a hub of leisure and physical activity, the park is a fun place where citizens can explore their own strengths and fitness. Trinity-Belwoods is a space of freedom and youthfulness. The transformation of this space into a meeting place for zombies stands in contrast with its peaceful, quiet characteristics. Cocarla (2011) suggests that the performance of the Zombie Walk can be considered culture jamming, reclaiming public spaces and overturning the “rational city” (129). As the Walk claims the Park as performance space, it makes fun of the idea of fun itself, how we structure our leisure and recreational time and the spaces we create to facilitate this.

The Toronto Zombie Walk is a social performance that explores the multiple meanings and interpretations of fun. As iconic representations of the viral zombie in literature and film, the Walk participants take on the characteristics of the fool/clown; commenting on our material selves, as well as our relationships with each other and with the city. As a site-specific performance, the meanings of the Toronto Zombie Walk are spatially created and reflected. As a “renewed fête” (Lefebvre 1996: 171) or a “critical unsiting” (Kwon 155), the Walk is a moment wherein our relationships with our selves, others and our spaces are questioned by making them unfamiliar. As a urban performance, the walk makes poignant commentary on art, public uprisings and contagion in Toronto. En route, the procession comments on the everyday use of different locations in Toronto, as well as the structure and performative nature of different streets, places and neighbourhoods. Disruptive by design and in imagery, what the Toronto Zombie Walk creates is a discourse on life in the city, prompting the audience to consider the peculiarities of everyday existence.

 

Works Cited

“Art and Culture in Toronto.” City of Toronto. City of Toronto. Web. 16 November 2011.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Trans. Hélène Iswolsky. Indiana: Indiana UP, 1984. Print.

Bishop, Kyle. American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in

Popular Culture. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2010. Print.

Brooks, Max. The Zombie Survival Guide. Complete Protection from the Living Dead. New

York: Three Rivers Press, 2003. Print.

Carlson, Marvin. Places of Performance: The Semiotics of Theatre Architecture. Ithaca:

Cornell UP, 1989. Print.

Cocarla, Sasha. “Reclaiming Public Spaces Through Performance of the Zombie Walk.”

Braaaiiinnnsss!. Ed. Robert Smith?. Ottawa: U of Ottawa P, 2011. Print.

Drezner, Daniel. Theories of International Politics and Zombies. New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2011. Print.

“Frequently Asked Questions about the Zombie Walk.” Toronto Zombie Walk. Web. 14 November 2011.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary. 10 October 2008. Web. 21 November 2011.

Highmore, Ben. Everyday Life and Cultural Theory. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

Johnstone, Stephen. The Everyday. Documents of Contemporary Art. London: Whitechapel Ventures Ltd., 2008. Print.

Kantor, Tadeusz. A Journey through Other Spaces; essays and manifestos, 1944-1990, Ed. and Trans. M. Kobialka. Berkley: U of California P, 1993. Print.

Knowles, Ric. Reading the Material Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.

Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1982. Print.

Kwon, Miwon. One Place After Another. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002. Print.

Lauro, Sarah Juliet. “Playing Dead: Zombies Invade Performance Art…and Your Neighbourhood.” Better Off Dead. The Evolution of the Zombie as Post-Human. Ed. Deborah Christie and Sarah Juliet Lauro. New York: Fordham UP, 2011.  Print.

Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991. Print.

—. Writings on Cities. Ed. and Trans. Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. Print.

McManus, I.C. and Furnham, Adrian. “Fun, Fun, Fun: Types of Fun, Attitudes to Fun, and their Relation to Personality and Biographical Factors.” Psychology 1.3 (Aug 2010): 159-168. Web. 23 November 2011.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus. Merriam-Webster Incorporated. Web. 21 November 2011.

Moreman, Christopher and Rushton, Cory. “Introduction: Race, Colonialism, and the Evolution of the ‘Zombie’.” Race, Oppression and the Zombie. Essays on Cross-Cultural Appropriations of the Caribbean Tradition. Ed. Christopher Moreman and Cory Rushton. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2011. Print.

Night of the Living Dead. Dir. George Romero. Walter Reade, 1968. Film.

Official Website for the City of Toronto. City of Toronto. Web. 24 November 2011.

Turner, Victor. From Ritual to Theatre. The Human Seriousness of Play. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982. Print.

Ubersfeld, Anne. Reading Theatre. Trans. Frank Collins. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1999. Print.

Webb, Jen and Byrnand, Sam. “Some Kind of Virus: The Zombie as Body and as Trope.” Body & Society. 14(2) (2008): 83-98. Web. 12 November 2011.

Wybrow, Nicolas, Art and the City. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011. Print.

“Zombie Walk With Us.” Torontoist. St. Joseph Media, October 24, 2011. Web. November 9, 2011. Web. 14 November 2011.

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This entry was posted on February 7, 2012 by in performings, writings and tagged , , , , .

What’s all this?

I've created this site to document and share research and activities related to my Masters of Arts program. It's partially a blog, partially a journal, partially whatever you want it to be. Feel free to have a good look around at what I'm reading, seeing, writing and thinking about. I'd love to see/hear your comments.

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