on ne répond pas à la question – contre toute attente, on procède | esse arts + opinions

on ne répond pas à la question – contre toute attente, on procède

Edith Brunette
  • Photo: Lucien Lisabelle
  • Photo: François Lemieux
  • Photo: François Lemieux
  • Photo: Edith Brunette
  • Photo: Action indirecte
  • Photo: François Lemieux

on ne répond pas à la question – contre toute attente, on procède

How can political questioning be applied to the weak points of democracy? What kind of democracy would emerge from this invitation to François Lemieux by Musée d’art contemporain des Laurentides to use as tools a trailer, a plywood agora (Une place idéale, Alexandre David), and the sanctuary of art and its institutions? MACLA’s invitation to the artist was transformed into a collective project resulting in two days of performances, videos, and discussions — one day in Saint-Jérôme and the other in Gatineau. Invited to consider the question of municipal elections, the artists and authors involved tackled the issue head on by re-examining the forms that art gives to politics and its institutional rules: No comment in response to your question — contrary to expectation, we’ll forge ahead.

The Action indirecte collective seems to have taken sides with destituent power, a “movement of continuous subtraction… from all policies that overshadow the sensory world.” Shunning politics and established art practices, Lemieux focuses on what emerges from the ordinary, inappropriate, and powerful. The collective allies itself with the actions of street nurses who, from a harm-reduction perspective and tired of waiting for the authorities to respond to the opioid crisis, set up a supervised injection site in an Ottawa park. Instead of the ideal of mobility that would take us to new heights, Lemieux proposes a political approach rooted in the here and now without the need for plans or authorization.

Echoing the event’s stance of collaboration and erasure, Dorian Nuskind-Oder and Simon Grenier-Poirier harnessed the choreographic potential of table tennis, inviting two professional players to keep the ball in play for as long as possible (Speed Glue). Competition, which drives parliamentary debate as well as the endless jousting of capitalism, gives way to exchange in a performance without a winner.

The variable geometry organization Journée sans culture occupies the installation Une place idéale to address the relationship between artists and gentrification (#ownit). Interweaving whispered fiction and open discussion, the intervention blurs the image of artists as “emancipatory architects” by questioning their function in a social process of dispossession and speculation.

[Translated from the French by Louise Ashcroft]

Image 1 : Alexandre David, Une place idéale, installation view, Musée d'art contemporain des Laurentides, Saint-Jérôme, 2017. Photo: Lucien Lisabelle
Image 2 : #ownit, Journée sans culture, performance and discussion realized in the installation Une place idéale by Alexandre David, Musée d'art contemporain des Laurentides, Saint-Jérôme, 2017. Photo: François Lemieux
Image 3 : Musée d'art contemporain des Laurentides Mobile trailer, showing video by Michael Eddy, Infinite Cruelty, for nothing, 2016, Place des festivités, Saint-Jérôme, 2017. Photo: François Lemieux
Image 4 : ACTION INDIRECTE, La bonne aventure, 2017. Photo: Edith Brunette
Image 5 : ACTION INDIRECTE, La question centrale, video still, 2017. Photo: courtesy of Action indirecte
Image 6 : Speed Glue, performance of the artists Simon Grenier-Poirier & Dorian Nuskind-Oder, gymnasium of UQO, Gatineau, 2017. Photo: François Lemieux

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