New community art project shines a light on local artists with multimedia projections
Whether it’s ornately painted murals covering the sides of buildings or small, delicately crafted drawings on defunct satellite dishes, Park Extension is no stranger to public art projects.
This June, a new community art project is coming to the neighbourhood in the form of free multimedia projections by local artists on the sides of buildings throughout the borough.
The Nos voisins sont des artistes art project was put together over the past year by À Portée de Main, a social, cultural, artistic and professional intervention organization based in Saint-Michel.
They assembled a roster of multidisciplinary artists from across the borough and assisted them in creating multimedia pieces that use mapping technology to project them onto the sides of buildings. The first projection in Park Ex will take place at the William-Hingston Centre on Friday, Jun. 3 at 9 PM.
The project was first started during the pandemic, with the objective of showcasing multimedia art installations by artists from the area made in collaboration with the local population.
“Its participative art, so people can meet the artists in their area, be it Saint-Michel or Park Ex,” said Francis Brisebois, Co-Director of À Portée de Main, explaining that several cohorts worked with the artists to co-create the multimedia projections.
“The idea was to offer this in the neighbourhood,” said Brisebois, adding “it often happens downtown or in more hype areas, but we wanted to make it available in Park Ex and Saint-Michel, where it happens less.”
The organization has worked closely with local multidisciplinary artists including Joel Janice and Patricia Perez of Park Ex, Omar Gammaoui and Yamoussa Bangoura of Saint-Michel and Ligia Borges and Kattam Laraki-Côté of Villeray.
The project is the first of its kind in the borough, harkening to the projections on buildings often seen in Montreal’s more touristic Old Port and downtown areas. The project differs from conventional 2D projection as it uses mapping technology.
Mapping consists of scanning the surface of a building to identify deviations in its surface and to create a digital template to use for the projections.
This allows the artist to create multimedia specifically tailored to the building it is projected on, for example omitting windows or doors from the projection to not disturb people inside.
People are invited to come to projections at nightfall, where artists will be in attendance to present their projects. “It’s a good opportunity for exchange between the artist and the general public,” added Brisebois.
Artists from across the borough
The roster of participants is composed of multidisciplinary artists from across the borough, including musicians, dancers, actors and visual artists. “We wanted it to be more representative,” explained Brisebois.
“Our organization’s proposition is for the project to be as multi-artistic as possible,” he added, explaining that they did not want to only choose visual or multimedia artists to lead the initiative.
Joel Janice, who goes by the stage name JjANICE+, is a Park Ex-based musician who participated in creating some of the multimedia pieces. Patricia Perez, also based in Park Ex is a dancer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist who also worked on the project.
“The idea is to say our neighbours are artists, so these are people who are either implicated in the community, have businesses in the area or live in the neighbourhood,” explained Brisebois.
Digital divides in disadvantaged neighbourhoods
À Portée de Main has been operating since 2015 in Saint-Michel, working in the field of social development through art and culture. With their newest project, the organization hopes to make in-roads in Park Ex.
“The organization’s mission is to foster the development of individuals and communities in a perspective of diversified creativity by using the arts and culture as a means of social development,” reads the organization’s mission statement.
“There really is a digital divide,” explained Brisebois of areas like Park Ex and Saint-Michel. “People have less access to technology and new technological approaches and there are fewer cultural hubs,” he added.
Through projects like Nos voisins sont des artistes, the organization hopes to foster a dynamic artistic scene in historically disadvantaged areas.
More events to come in Park Ex
The project is funded in part through the Entente de développement culturel, a partnership between the City of Montreal and the Ministry of Culture and Communications of Quebec.
There will be additional projections in Park Ex at Marché Macca on Jun. 16 and at Parc Metro on Jun. 24 at 9 PM. All events are free of charge and open to the public.
A full list of projections as well as more information is available on À Portée de Main’s website.