Jacob Wren makes literature, collaborative performances and exhibitions.
His books include: Unrehearsed Beauty (1998), Families Are Formed Through Copulation (2007), Revenge Fantasies of the Politically Dispossessed (2010), Polyamorous Love Song (2014) and Rich and Poor (2016). He is currently working on a book entitled Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART (2018).
Polyamorous Love Song was a finalist for the 2013 Fence Modern Prize in Prose and one of The Globe and Mail’s 100 best books of 2014. Rich and Poor was a finalist for the Quebec Writers’ Federation Paragraphe Huge MacLennan Prize for Fiction and one of The Globe and Mail’s 100 best books of 2016. All of his books have, or will be, published in French translation by Le Quartanier.
His performances, made collaboratively with other artists, engage with the struggle and paradox of ‘being oneself’ in a performance situation, with what it means to stand in front of an audience and speak honestly about the things one finds important, at the same time never afraid to show how vulnerable and nervous one might naturally feel in such a situation.
As co-artistic director of Montreal-based interdisciplinary group PME-ART he has co-created the performances: En français comme en anglais, it's easy to criticize (1998), Unrehearsed Beauty / Le Génie des autres (2002), La famille se crée en copulant (2005), the ongoing HOSPITALITÉ / HOSPITALITY series [including: 1: The Title Is Constantly Changing (2008), 3: Individualism Was A Mistake (2008), 2: Gradually This Overview (2010) and 5: The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information (2011)], Every Song I’ve Ever Written (2013) and Adventures can be found anywhere, même dans la mélancolie (2014). PME-ART was nominated for the 27th Conseil des arts de Montréal Grand Prix in the category of New Artistic Practices.
International collaborations include: a stage adaptation of the 1954 Wolfgang Koeppen novel Der Tod in Rom (Sophiensaele, Berlin, 2007), An Anthology of Optimism (co-created with Pieter De Buysser / Campo, Ghent, 2008), Big Brother Where Art Thou? (a project entirely on Facebook co-created with Lene Berg / OFFTA / PME-ART, 2011) and No Double Life For The Wicked (co-created with Tori Kudo / The Museum of Art, Kochi, Japan, 2012).
He has also collaborated with Nadia Ross and her company STO Union. Together they co-wrote and co-directed Recent Experiences (2000) and Revolutions in Therapy (2004).
Some of these projects have been reinvented by other artists. For example: En français comme en anglais, it's easy to criticize was reinvented by the National Theatre School to celebrate their 50th anniversary, co-directed by Chris Abraham and Christian Lapointe. Recent Experiences was reinvented by Amir Reza Koohestani / Mehr Theatre Group in a production that toured extensively. And La famille se crée en copulant was reinvented by La Periscope in a production directed by Frédéric Dubois.
Jacob invented the exercise Relay-Interview, has taught workshops in Montréal, Stockholm, Annaghmakerrig (Ireand), Ghent, Cologne, Toronto, Zürich and Chicoutimi, and has had residencies in Hamburg, Viborg (Denmark), Brussels, Lisbon, Kochi (Japan), Calgary, Portland, Cologne and Chicoutimi.
In a visual art context he has created works such as Five Important Books (co-created with Shannon Cochrane - Dare Dare/Mercer Union/Kyber, 2002), Hospitality 2: Gradually This Overview (PME-ART/Articule, 2010) and Adventures can be found anywhere, même dans la mélancolie (PME-ART/Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, 2014), works that focus on how to use the gallery space in an unconventional, always performative, manner. He has also had pieces the the group exhibitions Véritables préludes flasques (pour un chien) at Maison Populaire (Montreuil) and Stage Set Stage at SBC Gallery (Montréal).
He has performed in Aberystwyth, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Austin, Belfast, Bergen, Berlin, Birmingham, Bonn, Bordeaux, Boston, Brighton, Brussels, Calgary, Cardiff, Chicoutimi, Cognac, Copenhagen, Créteil, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Fribourg, Geneva, Ghent, Glasgow, Groningen, The Hague, Halifax, Hamburg, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Kingston, Kortrijk, Krakow, Linz, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Maastricht, Madrid, Malmö, Manchester, Mannheim, Marseille, Maubeuge, Melbourne, Montréal, Munich, Münster, New York, Nottingham, Oslo, Ottawa, Paris, Peterborough, Polverigi, Prague, Québec City, Rakvere, Regina, Riga, Rotterdam, Rouen, Saint-Jean Port-Joli, Salamanca, Salzburg, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Taipei, Tielt, Toronto, Tokyo, Trondheim, Vancouver, Vienna, Vilnius, Yokohama, Zagreb and Zurich.
He frequently writes about contemporary art.
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