The Canadian Art Database


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Toronto Canada 2009
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Shaun El C. Leonardo
New York City, USA.

Inspired by Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man, 20 men will enter Toronto's original bus depot with lingering art-deco design and step into a 17’ steel cage. Shaun El Conquistador Leonardo (artist and trained fighter) along with 19 of Canada’s elite pro-wrestlers will fight blindfolded until only one man is left standing.

The match is an intense, theatrical recreation of the book’s opening scene also entitled Battle Royal. Occupying a space between literary representation, wrestling spectacle and art performance, Battle Royal is an unscripted event harkening back to the actual fight to-the-end bouts African Americans were encouraged to enter for prize winnings during post-slavery American South; while manifesting the artist’s own personal fear of societal invisibility.

Beginning at 7pm members of the audience are invited to be blindfolded and escorted into the cage where they will have the opportunity to feel the intimidation and potential of aggression Battle Royal encompasses. Gradually, as the night reaches its peak, professional wrestlers will be introduced to the ring, initiating the action while the artist, Shaun El C. Leonardo, seeks to withstand the pain, embarrassment and discomfort of struggling in front of eyes without having sight himself.

Shaun El C. Leonardo received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and currently lives/works in Queens, New York City. He has received residencies/grants from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, New York Studio School, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Art Matters and the New York Foundation for the Arts. El C.’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented by RHYS MENDES Gallery, Los Angeles/Brasil with upcoming solo presentations in Portugal and Brazil.

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Shaun El C. Leonardo, El Conquistador vs. The Invisible Man:
The Steel Cage Match, 2006, Performance
Photo: Ricky Auyeung

Battle Royal, 2009
Performance Art

[ selected photographs ]
A10 - Toronto Coach Terminal
610 Bay Street

In association with Pro Wrestling Xtreme

Toronto Culture / Soctiabank