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An Illuminating Lunch with Luminato's Artistic Director

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2012-06-04-Jorn.jpg

The company:
Jorn Weisbrodt is the artistic director of Luminato. For those who don't know, Luminato is an arts festival that takes place all across Toronto. It encompasses all kinds of arts. In its sixth year, Luminato begins June 8 and runs until June 17. There are exhibits and events that will appeal to everyone, no matter how "artsy" you may be. The festival also strives to be extremely accessible with most events free and open to the public. Throughout the festival, Jorn will be introducing several performances and exhibits. Jorn is in his first year as artistic director and just moved to Toronto in January. Prior to joining Luminato, Jorn was executive director for RW Work Ltd.in New York City, representing and managing the work of legendary visual artist, theatre and opera director Robert Wilson. Originally from Germany, Jorn studied opera direction in school, and has had an incredibly interesting career that has spanned many forms of art with a healthy dose of opera.

The food:
We ate at a Korean spot on Wellington. We each had the bi bim bap, a rice and vegetable dish served in a hot bowl -- Jorn had his with mushrooms and tofu and I had mine with chicken. The meal started with a soup that reminded me of miso soup but wasn't. I didn't love it. However, we both enjoyed our mains. The rice got really crispy in the hot bowl, and it was delicious. Jorn had a cold mint tea and we both finished our meals with espressos. Total bill was $47 with tax.

The lunch lesson:
The lesson came right at the end of the lunch and will seem quite simple, but it really was eye-opening for me. I would say that when it comes to art, I am mostly a fan of music and dance. I find other forms of art can sometimes be confusing to me as I don't always "get it." I gave Jorn a few examples of performance art that I have heard about that I really didn't understand. He just looked at me and said "stop trying to get it." He explained that it's not about "getting it," you don't need to understand everything, but instead just enjoy it. As someone who always excelled in math class and not so much in art class, I always thought I had to "get it" and everyone else was in on it except for me. It was a relief to hear that, sometimes, "getting it" isn't the point. I think this will help me enjoy and appreciate art a lot more.

The lunch:
My lunch with Jorn was very lovely. I really enjoyed our conversation. And he got me really excited about Luminato this year. As a new Torontonian, Jorn asked me what I thought about the city. I told him how I just love the feel of the place, there is always stuff going on, and people out and about. And it's things like Luminato that make Toronto such a great place. You can just be strolling down Front Street and, without expecting it, walk into a free concert by Jovanotti, a hugely popular Italian rapper. (Put that one in your calendar; sounds awesome). Or something straightforward like eating dinner ends up being so much more during Luminato as the entire preparation and eating of the meal is an art installation by Austrian artist Rainer Prohaska.

I took the opportunity of this lunch to hear firsthand from the artistic director what he was most excited to check out at the festival. As an obvious fan of opera, he is very excited about the staging of "Einstein on the Beach", a five-hour opera collaboration between Jorn's former boss Robert Wilson and Phillip Glass. It hasn't been staged in twenty years, and this is the first North American performance outside New York City. Jorn believes this may be the last staging with the involvement of the opera's creators. According to Jorn, Einstein on the Beach is fun and beautiful, and can be a great intro to opera for a newbie like me.

Jorn is also excited about an exhibit at the ROM by Jorinde Voigt where she has illustrated a series of 32 Beethoven sonatas. He explained that music is an art form that doesn't have a "place;" it doesn't exist visually and this artist has managed to capture the music in a series of illustrations. Sounds very cool.

Since I gave away my love for dance, Jorn also recommended Sadeh21, a modern dance performance by Tel Aviv's acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company. You can check out some snippets of Sadeh21 here. It looks incredible.

A big part of the Luminato experience is how you just end up being part of an art performance without even planning it. Luminato continues to have a partnership with the TIFF Bell Lightbox and this year, as people are leaving Luminato video screenings, they will walk right into a magic show in the TIFF Bell Lightbox lobby. Who doesn't love magic?

For two weeks in June, there will be art everywhere. Before speaking with Jorn, I had no idea how much is really going on and how much is free and open to everyone. As a new Torontonian, Jorn was eager to hear from me about places to check out in the city. After leaving our lunch, I felt a bit like a new Torontonian myself with a whole list of things to see and do. Although I love Toronto, it's been a while since I have felt like this and I'm excited.

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