Under Construction

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Admit it: at least once, while walking past a big construction site, you’ve stopped to gaze down at the workers below, scurrying like safety-vested ants as they pour concrete and install girders. You probably weren’t alone. Chances are, others joined you, equally transfixed.

Julie Favreau and Caroline Dubois hope to capture that kind of attention with their new artistic intervention, Plan d’aménagement, which runs every day this month until Monday, Nov. 26. Favreau and Dubois have occupied a vacant storefront on Beaubien, where they, with the help of a small cast of dancers and artists and a whole pile of junk, will create a performance of perpetual construction and destruction.

The goal, explains Favreau, is to explore the public’s curiosity with “space in the making.” Passers-by watch their activities through the store’s large picture window or enter to ask questions and talk with the artists.

“Some people just watch outside, others have come in,” she says. “Earlier, there was a man who wanted us to buy the building and stay here permanently. He said, ‘You can’t go, there’s nothing like this in the neighbourhood, it’s so nice to see you here.’”

(Indeed, even during an afternoon interview last week, another man stopped in to ask what was going on. “I’m in the salon across the street and I’m so curious to know what you’re doing,” he asked, before Dubois and Favreau explained their “projet d’occupation.”)

“There’s a sort of desire attached to the location,” says Dubois. “It’s been vacant for two years, so you take for granted that there’s a fascination attached to this space. We have to go beyond that and have people come back and see the shows we’re going to put on in the evenings.”

Each week of the performance is guided by a different theme—last week was “comfort,” this week “risk” and next week “filth”—culminating in a show that ties together all of the weeks’ experiences.

“It’s a bit as if we’re taking the context of people going home from work and coming in here to see this, and creating something else, a piece of art,” says Dubois.

More than that, though, what the duo hopes to achieve is to engage people not only in the finished product of their art—the performances—but in the process as well.

“When we’re really into what we’re doing, people stand on the sides like they’re watching a construction site,” says Dubois. “You know, sometimes you’re watching the big machines and it’s like…”

“You understand that it’s not finished,” interrupts Favreau. “We’re building something but we get the sense that it’s not done. It’s not a show.”

“So we’re interested in why people stop to watch those big construction sites. I know I do it a lot. We thought about why, in art, we don’t have access to the whole process of research, only the finished idea, project and object. We don’t see the whole period of reflection, of doubt, of construction. We wanted to make sure that these steps of creation were accessible, so that people see not just the end but everything that came before.”

This article originally appeared in today’s Montreal Mirror.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Thursday November 15 2007at 05:11 pm , filed under Art and Design, Canada and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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