The Adventure Continues…

Art magazines have failed to survive the departure of their founding editor in the past. It’s a situation made sadder, one might even say regrettable, when a cultural periodical can only exist here through state subsidy—what we familiarly call “taxpayers’ money”—and that each one of them is certainly indebted to this support given it year after year. And this is equally true of the consideration shown it by the many writers who have shared their generous contributions over the decades; and with regard to artists, of course, the magazine’s task is to present their work, and bring it to public attention.

Espace magazine will survive my departure, after more than twenty-five years of good and loyal service—as the expression goes! This is thanks to the torch being passed to André-Louis Paré who has, one imagines, a thousand projects and new ideas in mind. Moreover, he is well known to Espace’s readers: he published his first article with us in 1988!

With hindsight and my accumulated experience—to which one might possibly add the wisdom of age—I feel the need to speak of a fabulous adventure that has taken place and is sure to continue; and to tell of the privilege we have had in putting together this instrument of communication and knowledge that is a magazine about sculpture. A unique magazine in this country, as is its counterpart in the United States, the magazine Sculpture.

So, long live Espace !

Architectured Space

Entitled Espace architecturé, (“Architectured” Space) this issue’s collection of essays brings together texts by André-Louis Paré, Nycole Paquin, Éric Valentin and Jessica Li. They discuss, notably, Collective Folie, Tadashi Kawamata’s gigantic tower at Parc de la Villette in Paris, Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Yam Lau’s installation at the Darling Foundry and the work of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, examined in terms of sculpture as a subversion of architecture.

In fact, to “architecture” space is in many ways, to infiltrate in order to better transform it, to pervert it in some way that obliges the users to react, to change their behaviour as they are no longer merely before a work to contemplate it but in a space in which to live. As one will see, this intrusion can sometimes take place intra muros, in an exhibition space, and sometimes outside, whether in a public place, an empty lot or a pedestrian mall.

By titling his in situ intervention at the Parisian Laundry L’un sur l’autre, Alexandre David plays with words. Certainly, his work underlines the tight dialogue with which it engages the space—what’s called the “bunker” in the basement—one echoing the other and vice versa, one non-existent without the other; but the title also points to, among other things, our simultaneously individual and collective experience of the space, the inevitable interaction of self and other. It’s an interaction that takes place outside habitual norms and conventions, and beyond the customary a priori: “I am not thinking of any use in particular for this project. What can one do in such a space? Everyone will make use of it as they see fit, but everyone will have in mind the movements executed by their counterparts, as they inhabit the space. […] This project “becomes” through common and shared use, either as a solitary or group experience.” 1

Another experiment with space, one with more political connotations, took place at the Darling Foundry; there, Virginie Laganière occupied one of the galleries with Le Vaisseau/Solid Void. The main element was an imposing structure elaborated in situ, a structure one could not enter. Seated on the bench running along the walls, one heard a sound track. The architecture-sculpture was “accompanied” by photographs depicting imposing buildings and monuments that recalled the space race, the Soviet era, and modernism “as testimonies to the scope of the aspirations associated with that era’s political project, and conversely, to disenchantment upon their failure.“ 2 This is architecture within architecture in order to cast a critical eye on grandiloquence, gigantism, utopia, partisan propaganda and totalitarianism.

Rodney LaTourelle’s installation Chromakenón at Optica “contaminated” the space and led visitors to experience colour, to “feel” it while walking through painted environments — described as three-dimensional paintings — that disturb and destabilize perceptions. “Drawing on art history,” says Julie Alary Lavallée, “LaTourelle actualizes various art movements, from the neoplasticism of De Stijl to Hard-edge painting. The outcome is a formal combination connected with architecture that allows him to cast this strict treatment of colour in a mode of contingency and unpredictability. Taking both natural and artificial light into account, these installations augment their perceptual potential by deploying an array of visual and chromatic affects. […] These structures that temporarily alter our senses harbour within themselves the complexity of the world.“3

At Galerie Art Mûr, Erika Dueck’s work, The Ephemeral Mind, was part of the ninth edition of Fresh Paint/New Construction, an annual summer exhibition that presents emerging artists from universities across the country. Unlike the installations discussed above, Dueck’s piece was neither conceived for the space nor composed in relation to the surrounding architecture. Nonetheless, it dominated the first floor of the gallery as an immense sculpture within which were deployed several “architectured” spaces. Made of crumpled white paper and shaped like a gigantic whirlwind — of the sort that takes shape during tornadoes — it incited the viewer to… enter the circle by walking around the work. Thus one discovered several openings containing different types of rooms loaded with a multitude of elements—like the one stuffed with cardboard boxes piled up on shelves and on the floor. The work held six different rooms, each presenting an hallucinatory work of miniaturization, a kind of mise en abîme of architecture at the very heart of the sculpture.

Last summer, at the exit of the Mont-Royal metro station Stéphanie Leduc and Manuel Baumann “architectured” public space with Ex[pause], an interactive installation set up on Place Gérald-Godin. The work sought to be simultaneously “a meeting point, a moment of rest and a mediating space.” 4 Calling to mind tiered wooden benches, it enabled some forty passersby to take a seat while two of them, seated in a particular spot, were photographed. The images of participants were shown on a screen in a random loop, and were also available at www.expause.com. The intervention, which is part of what we now refer to as the design event, questioned and altered the function of public spaces so citizens could view, and experience, them in a different way; in this case, by stopping for a moment and “taking part” in a proffered experience.

Once again during the summer season, the Société de développement commercial (SCD) in Montreal’s “village” neighbourhood, organized the 6th edition of Aires libres, conceived of as a “test project that is both creative and commercial.”5 The project is the four-month (from May 16 to September 2) closure to traffic of part of St. Catherine Street in order to turn it into a kind of cultural pedestrian mall. During this period, a number of outdoor artistic events were held, among them Louis Gagnon’s (of the graphic design agency Paprika) Trous de mémoire, installed at the Aire Banque Nationale, in which the public was invited to walk through a structure of six luminous walls. The artist Dominque Pétrin covered buildings with silk-screened psychedelic patterns, notably the Beaudry metro station itself, near Parc Serge-Garant. For her part, Marie-Ève Beaupré, presented a photo exhibition on panels, having the theme of Habiter sa couleur (Inhabiting One’s Colour) with works by Angela Grauerholz, Benoit Aquin, Cyrille Lauzon, Ève K. Tremblay, Marisa Portolese, Martin Verreault, Olga Chagaoutdinova, Sylvie Cotton and Yann Pocreau. But the most spectacular installation was the now famous ribbon of pink resin balls (Boules roses) by landscape architect Claude Cormier, in which nearly 200,000 coloured spheres formed a ceiling above strollers for more than a kilometer between St. Hubert and Papineau streets: a ceiling illuminated at night by lighting created by designer Gilles Arpin.

Translated by Peter Dubé

 


  1. Press release on the Parisian Laundry website: http:// parisianlaundry.com
  2. From the press release published by the gallery. (http://fonderiedarling.org/en/le-vaisseau-solid-void.html)
  3. Press release. (Our translation.)
  4. Email press release received on August 7, 2013. (Our translation.)