Caught in the Act

15 December 2004

I'm on the board of YYZ Artists' Outlet, and last night I got an advance copy of our latest publication, Caught in the Act which documents through essays and interviews, the history of Canadian women in performance art from the 70s and 80s. Sally McKay, who used to work at YYZ, writes about the book here. I'll admit that I'm not that interested in performance art for lots of different reasons, but this book is really welcome.

As Tanya Mars writes in her preface:

"It occurred to me that I was teaching myself right out of art history, which was ironic given that I had been actively engaged in both feminist and artist-run movements of the 70s and 80s, doing my utmost to ensure that women artists were not omitted from that history. As artists women were addressing the lack of representation, but as teachers it was clear that we had been lax. I asked myself, why, despite Canada's very rich contemporary art activity, were our images absent from the existing literature? We were prolific, our work was strong, we were vocal. Where were we? I decided that it was time to fill the void. The concept of self-determination that had fueled my resolve as a woman artist to be a woman artist in a male-dominated arena, would now fuel my passion to give Canadian women artists the attention and profile they deserve. It became clear that others shared my frustration with the lack of resources on Canadian artists. It became clear that writing a book would be an enormous undertaking, and that I did not want to do it alone".

Hence, a 444 page anthology, which launches tomorrow night at YYZ, in the 401 Richmond building. Here's the PR:

Please join us for the launch of this important new title from YYZ Books:

Caught in the Act
An anthology of performance art by Canadian women
Edited by Tanya Mars and Johanna Householder

Thursday, December 16, 7 - 10 p.m.
YYZ Artists' Outlet
401 Richmond Street, Suite 140, 416.598.4546

Canada's definitive book on Canadian women in performance art, this indispensible anthology gives readers access to an important and under-recognized subject in recent Canadian art history. Edited by two seminal Canadian peformance artists, Tanya Mars and Johanna Householder, this book focuses on the 70s and 80s; a time when women made a big and noisy impact, and provides readers with insight into the profound effects that feminism and women's work have had on the current alternative scene. Full of sass and insight, this essential collection is part survey, part critical discourse, and part reference book, containing five critical essays, thirty-four profiles on individual artists, hundreds of images, and an extensive bibliography.

444 pp. , 219 b/w photos, 19 colour plates
ISBN: 0-920397- 84-0 (softcover) $39.95

YYZ Books is online at

YYZ Books is distributed by ABC Art Books Canada

The support of the Canada Council for the Arts in making this book possible is gratefully acknowledged.

-- YYZ Books 401 Richmond St. W., Suite 140 Toronto, ON M5V 3A8 tel. 416.598.4546 fax 416.598.2282

image courtesy of YYZ Artists' Outlet


  1. December 2004: Published on
  2. 2005-2015 Archived on my websites & blog
  3. May 2023: this version produced; underlining indicates what was once a link is now dead