EXMURO arts publics and the Ville de Québec have inaugurated the the 8th annual PASSAGES INSOLITES art event, the annual Quebec City art walk that showcases over 20 unusual urban interventions by local and international artists. The event will run from June 26 to October 11, 2021, and will focus on reimagining the urban fabric and transforming how we see the city and its historic landmarks.
The main circuit will take place from the Place Royale on to Saint-Roch, guided by a yellow line painted on the side of the road. In addition to the event's general theme, which encourages people to reimagine urban pathways, this year's edition of the event highlights the landmarks of Quebec City, challenging the way citizens see historic buildings as well. Interventions included works on the Quebec Parliament Building, Grand Théâtre de Québec, and the Citadel of Quebec.
In addition to the interactive installations, contributions by the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) and performing arts pop-ups, such as dancers, circus artists, musicians, theatre artists, and multidisciplinary artists, will be present throughout the event to "straddle the thin border between reality and imagination". Espace 400e, a building designed to celebrate Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, will be transformed into a museum housing a unique collection of the best bad art in the world, work that is “too bad to be ignored". International contributors include artists from France, Germany, and the United States, along with artists from the OpenArt biennial of Örebro, Sweden.
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Read on for some of the interventions and the descriptions from the artists.
Nicole Banowetz (Denver, United States), An Adaptive Moment, 2021
A strange specimen overlooks the Bassin Louise. The inflatable installation reflects and magnifies the anatomical details of the rotifers, microscopic creatures that are able to dry out and be swept up by the wind to escape their predators. As they travel, rotifers absorb the DNA of nearby species and recombine it with their own, ensuring their survival. This exceptional creature with its surreal shape has a great deal to teach us about the transformative virtues of adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity.
Benedetto Bufalino, (Lyon, France), Lawn Cars, 2021
In a utopic new world where the car has become obsolete, a series of three parked cars are overturned, filled with earth, and covered with an immaculate lawn. It’s the perfect site for an afternoon in the sun, or a picnic. Street parking is taken over by a place where people live together playfully while greening the public space. The sight of cars reused and repurposed in this way is also a cogent criticism of consumerism and the climate emergency.
Théâtre Rude Ingénierie (Quebec City, Quebec), "Rising Waters", 2021
A mysterious village lies in the waters of Bassin Louise. Where did it come from? Was it overrun by rising waters or purpose-built in these shallows? A plume of smoke, a ringing bell – small signs of life suggest the village is still inhabited. Rising Waters is a serene tableau of what may be no more than a becalmed, tide-swept life.
Yann Farley (Sainte-Justine, Québec), Station A, 2021
Station A is a payment station that blends into the urban landscape, with its familiar interface and pictograms, along with the tantalizing promise of giving you something for free. But all attempts to operate the machine are fraught. The instructions seem increasingly absurd, until we realize the nature of the twisted trial the artist has set out for us. This electroacoustic interactive sculpture pokes fun at our ambiguous relationship with the automated equipment we now interact with everywhere we go.
Susanna Hesselberg, (Malmö, Sweden), When my father died it was like a whole library had burned down, 2015
Scarcely visible on the horizon, a library plunges deep into the abyss of an underground shaft. The riveting sight invites further exploration, but the wealth of knowledge and poetry we could fall into remains out of reach. The title references song lyrics by Laurie Anderson to evoke the all-consuming pain of losing a loved one. This buried library, not unlike a tomb, reflects the mourning for transmission interrupted, for knowledge now lost, irrevocably and forever.
Charles-Étienne Brochu (Quebec City, Quebec), "King of the Mountain", 2020
A monumental house of cards with colourful illustrations stands before the Parliament Building. The work illustrates the precarious nature of social equilibrium and represents the duality of our precious institutions, which are at once fragile and robust. Much like the fabric of Quebec society, a house of cards requires great care and constant vigilance. All it takes is a gust of wind or one abrupt move to topple everything we have worked so hard to build.
Sarah Thibault (Quebec City, Quebec), Monumental Impermanence, 2021
Aligned with the central entranceway of the Saint-Roch church, this sculptural arch provides a passageway to the church’s forecourt, a central gathering place for neighbourhood residents. The arch is covered with an haut-relief of papier-mâché baguettes. This work combines symbolic elements drawn from the lowly and ornate spheres, while echoing the gilded elements of the church whose ground it occupies.
With the aim of reimagining the city and exploring its different urban perspectives, EXMURO arts publics, an NGO that curates art projects in public spaces, creates this annual tradition for the Canadian city. The free-of-charge art path is curated by Vincent Roy, and is presented by the Ville de Québec.