What secrets can a city reveal as metaphors? What effect can it have on the imagination of those who keep it company? Both real and a construction of the real, what incarnation does a city have in our personal fictions? Cities are complex and dynamic ensembles. Filled with signs, they are places for memory, language and desire, as well as places for exchange and communication. The daily roaming along their structured paths stimulates the imagination of those who travel across them. Places for movement, peregrination and wandering, cities support imperceptible stories that are born, grow and then slowly languish into anonymity. There are cities that fit us like a glove. Some because they are filled with mythical scenery that we have visited, known, sometimes even known very well, those in which we have lived; the cities of our dreams that anchor our memories and symbolize the search for everything we never had and that we will never have. The urban experience and its potential for metaphor serve as a place where the fictions of our constructed identity cohabit with the representation and perception of the world outside. A NICE PLACE TO LIVE LEAVE and UNE HISTOIRE À SOI deal with the very nature of the city as a vector of those fictions. The work A NICE PLACE TO LIVE LEAVE, uses the space of the town of Baie-Saint-Paul in Quebec (2) as the framework for an exploration that seeks to connect geographic spaces with unconscious ones through remembered places, themselves powerful symbols: cities from here – routine places between home, work and recreation – and those from away – places of mythical and desired escapes – that help feed a collective fiction that is peculiar to our organized and sedentary societies. In the manner of a personal diary, the vernacular architecture of Baie-Saint-Paul was painted day after day in a daily and repetitive process while the public was invited to create a travel souvenir (in the form of a short text) tinged with a particular emotion. This micro-narrative was then introduced into the work as punctuation to the architectural series and as interruptions to the familiar landmarks of a post-card landscape, a recollection of the quiet passing of days. In this “roaming imaginary”, this “leaving oneself”, it is not a matter of escaping from ourselves, but rather of introducing a tension among the spatial landmarks that are so strongly anchored in both our real lives and our fantasies. These are the movements of those who stroll through the town’s spaces and give in to the vagaries of the mind. UNE HISTOIRE À SOI continues this passage through urban space. This second body of photographs expresses the relationship between the dwelling and the secret inside as well as “that which stays secret”. The work approaches the home as a closed place for family, a micro-society endowed with a unique history from which arises that which stays hidden versus that which we agree to show. A theatre of daily drama in which the family’s evolution takes place out of sight, the home opens its walls but closes itself to confession. Two kinds of representation are approached simultaneously: the first, photographic, shows the exteriors of private residences while the other, with superimposed text, provides hints of a scene taking place inside this microcosm. The presence of both image and text on the same surface begets a narrative about the inherent secrets of this domestic space. Aiming to stimulate the spectator’s ability to create narratives, the texts selected go far beyond the normal status of legend, and function as Polaroids, objective and emotionless snapshots. The motif of a domestic abode is dealt with here as a problematic of “inside and out”: to live in a space that expresses itself inside of us as well as outside of us. The being and the dwelling as a theatre of the human condition are contrasted with the “the world as a fabulous fiction”(3). The imaginary that comes alive, for instance, when we discover the neighbours’ goings-on through a window, helps to feed our mutual fantasies which have already been stimulated by the narrative culture of cinema, television series, literature, video games, comic strips… The home – a frontier between public and private – and its overtures to the outside are components of a cultural phenomenon in which a dialectic of transparency/opacity is played out. A body both real and fanciful, a source of inexhaustible inspiration, the home is examined as a metaphorical space of ourselves and of others. As such, certain places then become part of ourselves. Just as the extremely rational societies of the Renaissance will feel the need to create Utopias, we, in our time, must create fables.(4) Has this fiction that embeds itself like a permanent tension in our collective representations and our relationship with reality become the only place for our intensity? Josée Pellerin
Thursday, March 17, 2005 to Saturday, April 9, 2005Opening
1. “(…) as giddy as I please”, in The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau, book IV. Extracted verbatim from a translation by John Grant in 1904 of The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Grant translated the passage where Rousseau finds himself at a parapet overlooking a gorge, where he could '...gagner des vertiges tout à mon aise' by 'which allowed me to look down and be as giddy as I pleased'. 2. The project was carried out in the framework of the Symposium International de Baie-Saint-Paul, 2003 edition. This annual event promotes encounters between the public and contemporary art and artists over a period of a month, using a technique of workshops and residences. The public is invited to get close to the creative process. 3. Marie-Anne Guérin, Où est passé le monde comme fiction fabuleuse, Trafic 30, (summer 1999), p. 11. Text cited in the work of Régis Durand, Disparités, Éditions de la Différence, Paris, 2002, p. 28. 4. Francis Alÿs, Musée Picasso, Antibes et Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 2001, p. 79.
- Friday, March 18, 2005