Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Vernissage photos!

So we had our exhibition vernissage last night and it went wonderfully! We took some great shots so I thought I would share them with you here.  Thank you so much to the Department of Art History at Concordia for supporting this exhibition and our research endeavors!

 Jessie, a member of our group who has written about the Maguire Meadow produced a map outlining the island of Montreal and placed each of our sites on that map.
 We showed each intervention on a piece of white vellum and each had a pile of "stuff" that referenced our project.  A last minute decision was also made to allow people to write on the ends of the vellum however we will see how this goes :)

 One of the many group photos we took that night, we are sitting in front of our respective interventions.


 Both the Art History Graduate Program Director: Dr. Johanne Sloan, and the Chair of Art History: Dr. Loren Lerner were in attendance

 We had a bit of live entertainment provided by Patrick Lehman, his website is:

And, our final group shot - not including everyone unfortunately but we were all there in spirit.  Thank you so much for enjoying this blog and we will continue to update on our interventions and sites in the future!

Email us if you would like to be a part of this blog, we would love to hear about your own interventions you do in public spaces you live around and would more than love including your own project in our blog!

Keep intervening and situate yourself within your object of research!

The exhibition will run until the end of august so come by the Concordia Art History Department 3rd floor (art history wing) in the EV building to check it out!

-Situated Knowledges.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Le Petit parterre: Marking the Past

The park at the south east corner of Ontario West and St Urbain in downtown Montreal has been reduced to a 10,000 sq ft sliver of its former self. Le Petit parterre is a prettyish grassy terrace when its cherry trees are in bloom, it otherwise seems like a non-place. Even its name is in dispute: before 2009 its larger incarnation was Place Albert-Duquesne; since then it has only existed as part of le Promenade des artistes to the west or Le Parterre to the south. Its reduced size has now turned the northern half into a traffic island.

On this site, in 1962 there was living going on: bustling, sometimes difficult, but maybe, hopeful living. Chinese immigrants working in laundries, widowed French-Canadian women, tradesmen and their families, and a Chinese version of the YMCA.

The city demolished that block in 1963 along with many others during that decade. My intervention sought to make visible the traces of the lives lived on that block.
We began by marking the footprint of one building, 84-86 Ontario Street West, where Alice Vaillancourt ran a rooming house and where the CYMCI took in new immigrants and helped them learn English.

Next we walked around its periphery attempting to embody its size and imagine its presence.

Finally we read aloud the list of resident from 50 to 96 Ontario Street West and hung objects and tokens to represent their occupations on a clothesline.

- Jennifer Roberts

Maguire Meadow: Infinite Headroom

Whether it’s called the Roerich Garden, the Maguire Meadow or Le Champ des possibles, the Meadow’s multiple designations point to its most prized features as an abandoned space, a free space, and, as its French name so eloquently puts it, a field of possibilities.
This green patch of abandoned land in the middle of Mile End has become an essential urban oasis as well as a creative refuge for many inhabitants. Situated in the neighborhood with the highest density of artists in Canada, this terrain vague has fostered creativity and freedom of expression while acting as a much-needed space for leisure and outdoor activities.

The city of Montreal has signaled its intentions to transform the space as part of its plans to reinvigorate the Saint-Viateur est district, but a group of citizens, many of them artists, have taken up the delicate task of preserving both of the Meadow’s biodiversity and the community it supports.

My intervention is an installation called The Infinite Headroom Exhibition Space (2011), a temporary structure on which to make visible the many artistic practices that have taken place in Le champ. I wanted to create a display for the passer-by in keeping with its surroundings: a simple box-like setup using only the most rudimentary materials. However, the frailty of the structure had unexpected results as it struggled against strong gusts of wind to stay aloft. I witnessed this unexpected force of nature take over my project and I realized that it was now the property of the Meadow—that made me quite happy.

Participants were asked to contribute a photograph and small text or Haiku to be published on this blog:  

- Louis-Alexandre Douesnard-Malo

Maguire Meadow/Le Champ des Possibles: Exploring a Ruderal Landscape

Maguire Meadow, also known as Le Champ des Possibles, is invisible when approached from the south or west. Walking up Rue De Gaspé, the landscape is mineral and manmade: the looming ugly factory buildings and loading docks overhang the bare sidewalks. The entrance to the Meadow lies beyond an unpaved parking lot replete with cars and a graffiti covered derelict truck. But in the heart of this industrial part of Montreal, there is fully functioning meadow with immense biodiversity, its very presence giving the lie to the separation between city and country, the urban and the bucolic.

Part I: The Aesthetics of Engagement 
On June 14, 2011, in order to understand how the Maguire Meadow/Le Champ des Possibles performs, and to make visual and visible our responses to the aesthetic quality of the Meadow, each of us chose a part of the Maguire Meadow to sketch. Our choices were based not only on vision, but also on our other senses of hearing, feeling, smelling, etc.The resultant drawings were a trace of our experience of the Meadow/Le Champ that Spring day.

Part II: Natural Environmental Model of Aesthetics 
Afterwards, we deepened our appreciation of the Meadow by learning about its biodiversity through a lecture and walk led by Roger LaTour, an expert in urban flora. Through understanding the range of plants and animals that form and inhabit this ruderal landscape, we could better appreciate its particular ruderal beauty.

- Jessica Hart

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Come and join us to get a first hand look at the projects we have been posting about on this blog! 

Friday, 24 June 2011

AgoraPHILIA: Square Viger

Square Viger has hosted a number of situated knowers.  As a square built solely for “public” leisure in the early 19th-century its intended user was the French-Canadian bourgeoisie who frequented the site.  However, through many redevelopments, most recently being Charles Daudelin’s Agora architectural environment in 1983, the space has been inhabited and claimed by a different “public”.
Many homeless communities in Montreal have repurposed Daudelin’s structures as private dwellings and reclaimed them as their own.  Among these groups is ‘La Niches des Maîtres’, a group of homeless dog owners who travel and live together with their canine companions. 
My intervention relates to the square’s original purpose as one of Montreal’s first parks for “public” leisure and asks the question – which public does this acknowledge?  I have imagined what play and leisure might mean for these dogs and how to make visible their ownership of this space. 
I brought them a bin of toys and treats, but on the day of my intervention they had moved on.  I left the toys with a note indicating their intended recipients and later was pleased to see one of my gifts in the hands and paws of a young homeless girl and her dog.
Such is the life of homeless people – their relationship to space and the built environment is in constant flux though their presence in Montreal cannot be overlooked.  Perhaps their own mapping of the city and the spaces they occupy can offer us more insight to possible future redevelopments that acknowledge their existence rather than erasing it.