Jess Dobkin’s Biography

Photographer: David Hawe

Jess Dobkin’s performances, artist’s talks and workshops are presented at museums, galleries, theatres and universities internationally. She creates innovative live and video solo performances, as well as multiple artist productions. Her creative endeavors have received wide support and recognition, including awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council, and repeated funding from the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art and the Astraea Foundation. Her work has toured internationally, and she has performed, lectured and conducted performance art workshops in the US, Canada, Germany, Belgium, and the UK. Her performances have been presented at renowned avant-garde venues in New York and Toronto. Jess has presented as a Visiting Artist at numerous universities including Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Brown University. She has worked as a Sessional Lecturer in the Visual Studies department at the University of Toronto, and is currently an Instructor at the Ontario College of Art & Design. She also serves on the Board of Directors at YYZ Artists’ Outlet. She lives in Toronto. Everything I’ve Got is supported by Canada Council and from HATCH/Harbourfront.

Artist’s Statement
I approach performance art as an inherently subversive practice. My performances challenge the status quo, transgress boundaries and envision alternate realities. The intimacy and immediacy of live performance lets me guide the audience on a journey through real space and time to examine things differently than they ever have.

My body is my primary tool in my practice, and my work explores its physical and psychic abilities, limitations, and attributes. Using personal narrative as my starting point, I pull from my own experiences of love, work, parenthood, politics and sex for material.

I focus attention on the life spans of my performances, understanding that they exist before and beyond the physical presentation of the work. Audiences’ anticipation, expectation, and memory become elements that I influence. In my “Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar” project, the performance began when I disseminated the press release a month prior to the live performance. This was when the public discussion began, as the work sparked a thoughtful and intense national dialogue.