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Victoria Sin

If I had the words to tell you we wouldn’t be here now

May 16, 2020
–May 30, 2020

Victoria Sin, If I had the words to tell you we wouldn’t be here now, performance at MOCA Toronto, 2019. Film still by Lulu Wei.

Victoria Sin performed If I had the words to tell you we wouldn’t be here now at MOCA Toronto for one-night-only in November 2019. The full-length document of the performance is available to watch here on the platform for the next two weeks. We thank Victoria for generously sharing their work. 

If I had the words to tell you we wouldn’t be here now uses storytelling, drag and theatrical devices to explore how language shapes thought. The performance stages a dialogue between a desiring queer body and a musician to illuminate how identity and experience are not only represented but also created and reinforced through language and naming. 

Here, Victoria performs alongside percussionist Nikki Joshi, who developed an original score for this piece. Victoria wears a specially commissioned oceanic costume by designer Dimitra Petsa.

Documentation by Lulu Wei. The original iteration of this performance was commissioned by Chi Wen Gallery.

Recommended Age: Grade 10 and up

  • How would you describe the atmosphere created by Joshi’s percussion piece?
  • Sin and Joshi use repetition and percussion to emphasize certain parts of the performance. For example, throughout Sin’s monologue, a percussion sound plays in place of a name or label pertaining to someone’s identity. 
    • Why do you think the artist chose to do this?  
    • How does the percussion emphasis add meaning for the audience?
  • The monologue that narrates the performance has been pre-recorded, and Sin lip syncs along to certain parts of the voiceover.  
    • Why do you think the artist has chosen to lip sync the monologue, rather than speaking the words live?
  • Why do you think Sin chose to perform this piece in drag makeup and costume? How might your understanding of the piece change if they had not been in costume?
  • If you could ask the artist a question about the piece, what would you like to know?

Past Shift Key Programmes

A still from Cecilia Vicuña "Paracas" (1983)
Cecilia Vicuña
A Still from Cauleen Smith "Pilgrim" (2017)
Cauleen Smith
Mona Hatoum
Aura Satz
Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road)