Making connections with Jardins suspendus
August 18, 2022
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From August 25 to 28, Place de la Paix in the Quartier des Spectacles will host Jardins suspendus, an interactive installation and contemporary and aerial dance performance. The project’s co-artistic directors and choreographers, Claire Jeannot and Geneviève Lauzon, spoke with us about their ambitious and sensitive interdisciplinary work.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF JARDINS SUSPENDUS?
Claire Jeannot : Separately, Geneviève and I both saw the call for proposals for a street arts show issued by the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the National Theatre School. We each had an idea, but neither one quite fit the criteria. So, we decided to have a dialogue and develop our respective ideas together to create a third proposal.
Geneviève Lauzon : Our approaches had a few things in common, like the idea of an installation that transforms public space, working vertically and playing with the audience’s gaze. We wanted to improve both of our worlds to create a new one that would be more dreamlike, more majestic, and occupy even more of Place de la Paix.
WHAT DOES THE SITE INSPIRE IN YOU? HOW DID PLACE DE LA PAIX FIT INTO YOUR PROJECT?
CJ: Right off the bat, we were excited by its many trees. It’s a very lively place that is used by many different communities. Because our work focuses on connections and interactions, it was only natural that we were interested in what was already there.
GL: It’s a relatively small public space, nestled between buildings. It has fairly dense vegetation, with the trees and grass. Its particular blend of plant life and urbanity inspired our proposal, as did its social complexity.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROJECT IN A FEW WORDS? WHAT SHOULD THE AUDIENCE EXPECT?
GL: Jardins suspendus has two components. The first is an outdoor interactive exhibition, freely accessible between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. People who visit the installation can activate audio tracks and hear testimonials recorded during cultural outreach activities that were also part of the project.
CJ: In the evening, there’s a contemporary and aerial dance performance. Seven dancers will occupy the space and bring it to life by playing with height and gravity. The artists are harnessed to containers as tall as 16 feet. As a whole, the project is a visual and auditory experience that awakens our senses and emotions.
YOU WORKED WITH QUITE A FEW PEOPLE TO BUILD SUCH A RICH UNIVERSE. WHO ARE THEY?
GL: From the very beginning, we worked on scenography with Manon Guiraud and Charlotte Gandin, who are both former members of a now-disbanded creative collective called Le Pictographe. They made the majestic tree that will soon stand in the middle of Place de la Paix, meticulously crafting it from salvaged old shirts.
CJ: There are also the audio component, by Andrew Beaudoin, the costumes by Roxanne Bédard and the music by Thomas Floquet. For the aerial dance, we worked with artistic consultant Mélissa Collelo.
WHAT WAS INVOLVED IN THE CULTURAL OUTREACH WORK?
GL: It was important to us that the project would incorporate citizen voices. In collaboration with the National Theatre School of Canada and Accueil aux immigrants de l’est de Montréal (AIEM), we held outreach workshops to explore the movements of the body and examine non-verbal language, postures, gazes and so on. After those physical sessions, we recorded discussions that became the basis of the audio tracks – words and sentences that are part of the show.
CJ: This summer, we also had gatherings in Place de la Paix to talk with the people who use it, learn about them and tell them about our project. We talked about the space and their connections with others and with the city. It was very enriching on a human level.
HUMAN SHARING AND CONNECTION ARE AT THE HEART OF YOUR PROJECT. WHAT IS THE MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONVEY THROUGH THE WORK?
GL: During our research, it became clear to us that connection with others is essential for human beings. We want to highlight the importance of that contact, which marks us and resonates in our lives. How do all the small interactions we have as we go about our day affect us if we slow down and extend them a little? No doubt, the pandemic awakened that kind of awareness in many of us.
CJ: With this project, we realize that the connections binding us are there, we just have to shed some light on them. We wanted to materialize the bonds that already exist between residents of the city and demonstrate that these encounters have real weight, real power in what we can accomplish, feel and experience as human beings.
Installation immersive et danse aérienne
From August 25 to 28, 2022
Immersive installation: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Two performances per night: 6 pm and 7:30 pm
Place de la Paix, Quartier des Spectacles