Initiated by EXMURO arts publics and the Ville de Québec, the 9th edition of Passages Insolites, or Unusual Passages, is open from June 25 to October 10, 2022, in the city of Québec. During this time, 17 works by 18 local, Canadian, and international artists will be placed along a 2.5 km circuit in the historic sectors of Place Royale, Petit Champlain, and the Old Port. This year’s edition creates spaces for artistic encounters and reflection on the environment, decolonization, and geopolitics. In the words of Vincent Roy, EXMURO’s executive and artistic director, this year’s programming will “help put Quebec City on the global art map as a venue for exhibiting art and promoting artists, both locally and internationally.”
As a public arts festival, Passages Insolites features a circuit of temporary artworks as well as artistic happenings in public space. The event seeks to embrace the unexpected and the unusual by weaving public art into the urban and social fabric of its central neighborhoods. To underline this central theme, the program of “Embuscades artistiques” wants to surprise and charm passersby with pop-up theater, dance, and circus performances. Boston’s offbeat Museum of Bad Art is opened again this year to complete the program of guided tours and exhibitions.
This year’s headliner is Ai Weiwei, one of the most influential contemporary artists, who will present new work in a premiere for North America. Ai Weiwei is celebrated for his politically engaged, subversive practice that challenges orthodoxies and critiques economic, political, and social power imbalances. Another artist, Gabrielle Laïla Tittley, known as PONY (Poor One Newly Young), is Passages Insolites first ambassador. As a multidisciplinary artist with a trademark playful sensibility, she aims to create accessible art that brings people together, pushes for positive change, and promotes mental health. For Tittley, art projects like Passages Insolites are crucial, especially when they “give space to diverse voices outside the dominant discourses that have monopolized the conversation for too long.”
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Read on for some of the interventions and the artists
Mythe et evidence - Mathieu Valade, Chicoutimi, (Québec, 2017)
Mathieu Valade explores the existing contradictory relationships between simple forms and the images they can evoke once diverted. Represented by Galerie 3 in Quebec, he has shown his work at the Musée d'art contemporain du Val-de-Marne and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, in particular.
Il y a quelque chose de la guérilla - Collectif Bélanger-Sacy, (Québec, 2022)
Dominique Sacy, author and performer of spoken word, slam and theatrical UFOs, and Gabrielle Bélanger, local artist with a relational and infiltrating approach, have had a creative relationship since 2020. The multidisciplinary duo is nourished by a common interest in artistic interventions engaged in the community, outside the usual contexts of dissemination.
#hopeandhealingcanada – Tracey-Mae Chambers, (Ontario, 2021-2022)
Valorization of heritage: The practice of knitting and the design of dreamcatchers are both the result of traditional know-how transmitted from one generation to the next. Allied in this way, they call on the living memory of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal communities in Place Royale, a place of trade between First Nations and settlers during the era of New France. The artist, Tracey-Mae Chambers, is a sculptor who manipulates organic materials such as beeswax or wool to deal with human and natural interrelationships. She reconnects with her Ojibwa-Métis heritage through site-specific installations in public spaces, historic sites, and spaces for cultural dissemination across North America.
L’Empreinte de nos décors - Sarah Thibault and the students of secondary school Vanier, (Quebec, 2022)
Sarah Thibault draws on popular imagery and decorative arts to appropriate the visual culture of power using a satirical approach. She has taken part in exhibitions in artist centers in Quebec and in creative residencies at the Annexes of the Château de Bourglinster in Luxembourg and at Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan, among others.
Un moment d’adaptation - Nicole Banowetz, (Denver, Colorado, 2021)
Nicole Banowetz creates inflatable sculptures with installation or performative deployment. Imbued with a certain vitality, these organic proliferations evoke the animal, vegetable, mineral, and bacterial worlds. Banowetz's works have been exhibited at the Biennial of the Americas (USA), the Baltic Gallery of Contemporary Art (Poland), and the National Center for Contemporary Arts (Russia).
Namus Pamus - Gaspard Combes (Arles, France, 2022)
Gaspard Combes creates sculptures intended for the public space and the natural environment. Putting forward organic aesthetics of erosion and entropy, his works surpass and relativize the human scale. He has participated, among others, in the Festival des Arts Éphémères in Marseille, France, and in the outdoor sculpture exhibition Ailyos in Leysin, Switzerland.
Pas encore mon histoire - Vincent Olinet (Paris, France, 2022)
Vincent Olinet's work oscillates between the marvels of the imagination and the disillusions of reality. It uses popular imagery for its strong metaphorical power. His works have toured biennials in Japan, China and Sweden, in addition to being included in Voyage à Nantes and Nuit Blanche in Paris, France.
Meditations on Earthly Materials and Temperatures - Mia Feuer (Winnipeg, Canada, 2022)
Valorization of heritage: The zamboni is a mythical object evoking Quebec's intangible heritage. Hockey has been celebrated in Quebec and Canada for decades and recognized as a cultural practice inherent to the national identity. The Canadian daughter of a goalkeeper from the Jewish Hockey League in Winnipeg, Mia Feuer manipulates emblematic objects of Nordic identity, like sleds, ice rinks, hockey equipment. Mia Feuer also examines the history and future of synthetic materials in a committed approach. The exploitation of the natural world embodies for her the wounds of colonialism and patriarchy. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she teaches sculpture at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Jeux interdits - Eva Clouard (Paris, France, 2022)
Eva Clouard diverts everyday objects and words to generate both sensory and conceptual discrepancies. The paradoxical shapes and improbable discrepancies lightly underline the absurdity of our lifestyles. She participated in collective events Art Souterrain in Montreal, Partcours-Parkunst in Brussels and La Quinzaine radieuse in Paris.