Is Darren O’Donnell still a theatre artist? Is that question even relevant in this context? What is our government’s commitment to human rights? What would I look like if I was Omar Khadr? If I answer that question for an audience (even an informal one), is that not theatre?
These are some of the questions raised by Missing You, a set of amusement park face-in-the-hole novelties by Darren O’Donnell. The viewer is given the opportunity to offer their presence in the place of Omar Khadr‘s absence, occurring during curator Sophia Lin’s Toronto Free Gallery’s group show Presently Absent, sharing the space with artists Swintak and Johanna Householder.
Two full-size portraits of Toronto-born, Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr, rendered on two large pieces of plywood occupy the two bay windows of the gallery. The faces are removed and the viewer invited to occupy Khadr, at a time in his life before the current and insane legal limbo, in one of his two homes: Toronto and Afghanistan – an impossibility. The carnival novelty mocks our inability to act, our complicity with the Canadian state for allowing this to continue, and suggests that when we do try to act, our only option is to act like a buffoon.