The socially engaged art of FIN NOVEMBRE

November 21, 2011

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By Marie-Christine Beaudry

If you passed through Place Émilie-Gamelin in the Quartier des Spectacles this past Friday night (November 18 to be exact), you might have glimpsed a few hundred people doing acrobatics in front of five cameras.

For more than twenty minutes, Action Terroriste Socialement Acceptable (ATSA) co-founder Annie Roy led the crowd in a dance on the theme of “Quand en aurez-vous assez!” (“When will you have had enough!”).

The video shoot launched a new event, FIN NOVEMBRE – the new version, if you will, of the old État d’Urgence that was organized by ATSA for almost a decade. FIN NOVEMBRE will present a diverse program of activities until November 27, all using art to send a message. The event brings people together to illuminate a difficult social problem: homelessness.

You’ll see musical performances, circus acts, and discussion sessions led by important figures in the field. And every evening at 7 PM there will be a showing of the film that was shot (in part) on November 18 on the streets of Montreal.

The four-minute video will be looped and projected continuously onto gigantic towers made from shipping containers wrapped in white. It’s a two-part film, and the first segment, entitled “Quand en aurez-vous assez!” shows the savage economic differences that divide our world.

The second part, entitled “Qu’est-ce qu’on attend?” (“What are we waiting for?”), shows the public coming together to perform a cathartic collective gesture symbolizing the collapse of a out-of-control capitalism that has brought on its own death. The swaddled “actors” fall over one another to portray its last gasps. Afterwards, a collective awakening comes over them, giving them back their identity and their love of life through cooperation and sharing. The result is certainly fascinating, given the quick-and-dirty volunteer film shoot that produced it.

A new kind of event in the Quartier des Spectacles

The kind of art presented in FIN NOVEMBRE is a committed art, an art that takes action. Whether it takes the form of a song, a video, a piece of origami or even a speech, the art of ATSA conveys a strong political message.

“We’re expressing dissent” explains Annie Roy. “Basically, we’re fighting the same kind of fight as the Occupy Montreal movement. FIN NOVEMBRE is another way to respond to the offensiveness of the growing wealth gap.”

It’s interesting to note that it’s not just artists who will be at centre stage for this event.

“We have to highlight the people who work with the homeless year-round” opines the ATSA co-founder. “We invited the people who serve meals to do their work inside our heated tents for the ten days of the event. It’s our way of thanking them.”

We’ll be at FIN NOVEMBRE, at Place Émilie-Gamelin in the Quartier des Spectacles, not just to celebrate art but to support a good cause.