Written by Ania Szneps on 27.07.16

A current trend amongst Montreal artists is the need to address certain socio-economical issues in a way that involves viewers rather than present these universal subjects in an alienating manner. This year’s Aires Libres, the outdoor pedestrian mall that goes through the gay Village, is in its 11th year and explores the themes of autarky, which refers to “self-governing structures or systems whole endorsing a meeting of different ideological, sociological, or political diversification in an effort to reach an independent status”. This subject, along with the title “All the things I need,” was specifically chosen by the event’s public art exhibit commissioner, Aseman Sabet, who views the event as an opportunity for a kind of reflection laboratory and a place for the meetings of the minds of this year’s artists. The event began in June 2016 and will be ongoing in September.

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Visitors will be treated to a variety of artistic expressions, from sculptures to musical bicycles. Among the sculptures on display are works by the following artists:

David Armstrong Six and his piece “Rimbaud’s pocket,” which reflect on the pieces’ inherent materiality, while creating dialogues with the spectators’ narratives;

Mathieu Latulippe and “Mémoire d’éléphant,” which depicts a fictitious future in which humans have seemingly failed or struggled to survive. Using dioramas to illustrate the narrative, the piece’s primary meditation is on people and their tendency to repeat past mistakes;

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Jonathan Villeneuve and “Les chargeurs de potentiels,” a two-headed mechanical shovel powered by solar energy which only becomes animated once a day. The object is to look beyond practicality, since, devoid of discernible goals, the subject follows its own logic.

There are also some photography pieces which will be presented on ten light boxes by the following artists:

Dean Byington, who uses a number of mediums to explore a parallel preoccupation with history and ancient narratives and with current events;

Alicja Dobrucka, known for the ability to engage the camera’s intimate gaze while keeping a certain distance, will have three of her photographs presented, namely “I like you, I like you a lot” (2008), “Concrete mushrooms” (2011), and “Berlin Series” (2012);

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Josée Pedneault, who began a geographical search for a space that was similar to a mole the artist found on herself when a teenager. The photography explores different directions, evoking sometimes geographical reliefs, sometimes dermal, where vegetal, mineral, bodily, or abstract textures converse.

Additionally, on the corner of Wolfe and St. Catherine, will be an installation of large panels by newly featured artist Michelle Furlong. The installation, according to Sabet, promises to draw the spectator into an aquatic landscape which raises questions about survival within the sporadic presence of the shark, a symbol of both the marine predator and, by extension, the sphere of the unknown.

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Furthermore, the “Belvedere staircase” is back by popular demand, and provides viewers with great photo-ops above the pink-ball canopy. There will also be the new “Les vélos musicaux” (musical bicycles) developed and created by artists Julien and Stéphan Leblond, who hope to unite people through art and physical activity. The installation works on the premise that four people, be it strangers or friends, work together to create a musical (and multi-sensorial) experience based on their combined physical efforts.

And if all these attractions weren’t enough, Aires Libres will be hosting a variety of events until its closing date on September 26th, the details of which you can find on the event’s website. So there’s really no excuse for you not to come down to the Village’s eleventh edition of Aires Libres, be it to do a bit of shopping or to get a little more cultured.

Photos by Aires Libres.

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