Urban + Eau: Art and ecology, at the heart of the city

June 13, 2011

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Art director Jimmy Lakatos and ONE DROP are betting that urban art can make Montrealers aware of water issues.

By Marie-Claude Élie Morin
Since the beginning of June, Quartier des spectacles pedestrians have had the opportunity to discover four original interventions, each created by a different artist and highlighting a different aspect of our relationship with water -- the most essential human resource.

Inspired by German artwork based on street furniture, Jimmy Lakatos developed the idea for Urban + Eau and approached ONE DROP, which frequently uses art as a way to communicate with the public. They went on to choose four artists, each with a distinct but complementary approach.


Yellow line pipe. Photo credit | Geneviève Lussier
Better known as Roadsworth, artist Peter Gibson is intimately familiar with the Montreal landscape. His three works are drawn directly onto the asphalt: a giant drop at Balmoral and Mayor, 4 faucets at Saint-Denis and Sainte-Catherine, and a yellow line pipe at Ontario and Sanguinet.


NIVEAU/LEVEL. Photo credit | Geneviève Lussier
NIVEAU/LEVEL, on the west wall of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, is the contribution of photographer Caroline Hayeur. It's a work that expresses a strong message through a playful take on a water-fitness class.


Background Noise. Photo credit | Geneviève Lussier
At the corner of De Maisonneuve and Berri, Christian Miron has installed two giant sink basins, connected by a shared drain. Visitors are invited to draw close to Background Noise like they would put their ear to a seashell, and hear the urban sea.


Boats. Photo credit | Geneviève Lussier
Father down Saint-Laurent Boulevard toward the river, between Sherbrooke and René-Lévesque, pedestrians are lured aboard the boats of artist Sylvain Robert, a poetic ode to the river that runs through us.

"I hope the installations stimulate the curiosity of Montrealers, and lead them to take an intimate approach to the artwork. I want the Quartier des spectacles to be a huge gallery, filled with objects that tell a story" says Jimmy Lakatos.

Geneviève Lussier, project officer at ONE DROP, likes the idea that art can make marks on the city. "Water plays a fundamental role in the city. Here, we're trying a very local and human-scale experience in which four artists express their personal vision of the place of water in urban life. Urban + Eau reflects the Saint Lawrence River as a source of water, the sewer system as a source of pollution, the walls of the city as sources of inspiration, and Montrealers as engines of change."