Être ensemble: an art display that reflects on appreciating art rather than consuming advertisements

The City of Laval’s public art project, Zoom Art, in Montmorency metro station. ESTHER MORAND/The Concordian

Zoom Art is a project that recommends people to look up from their mundane routines to discover public artwork

Curator Geneviève Goyer-Ouimette’s Zoom Art Project, presented by Ville de Laval Art Collection, is on display for its third edition until Oct. 16. The theme of this year’s edition is “être ensemble” which loosely translates to “being together. 

The artworks will be accessible until Oct. 16. 

The artworks are presented on astral panels, bus shelters, posters in the Montmorency metro terminus, as well as in light boxes on metro platforms. These works replace advertising, displaying artwork instead of ads. 

“The idea at the beginning was to allow a break from advertising and to have a kind of artistic oasis in the spaces where there usually is something to sell.”

Here, nothing is sold. People are invited “to reflect on their state, to have time for themselves, to be addressed as human beings, not as consumers,” notes Goyer-Ouimette. 

The project was born three years ago, in the midst of the pandemic. Goyer-Ouimette explains that “museums were closed, people had limited access to culture.”

The first edition, curated by Anne-Sophie Michel and Anick Thibault, was organized in less than two months, with a selection of artists whose works were posted in bus shelters and on astral boards. 

Previously, the project served to help emerging artists, but for the second and third editions, pieces were chosen around a specific theme. 

It was important for the curator to find an accessible theme that spoke to a large audience, where people could make links and think about the artworks without having necessarily studied fine arts. She wanted to find a theme around the term “to gather” without explaining it further. 

“With the theme ‘être ensemble,’ contrary to the notion of ‘vivre ensemble’ there is no intent given, it is more of an observation,” Goyer-Ouimette notes.  

“Being together can reach the intimacy of conflicts between people, that it be in love relationships, power relationships, indoctrination, or even very positive ones, such as relationships with a family, or being bored of being together.” The theme is thus reflected in the chosen pieces. 

There are reproductions of artworks put into photography; sometimes they are digitized because they come from real photographs that have been enlarged. 

What is particular about Zoom Art is that “you can discover it by walking around randomly, but you can also discover it by day or by night. The works are very different depending on the time of day,” Goyer-Ouimette said. 

She notes that the project resembles a catalog, but that the result is a display in a public space. 

“One of the crucial steps in producing a catalog is to ensure the quality of the images. We often had to rework the size of the images.” 

In choosing what artworks to represent, Goyer-Ouimette wanted “all the works [to] have a very strong visual appeal. In the bus shelters they contain details that will allow people to reflect,” because they have more time to wait for a bus, whereas in the metro it has to be effective more quickly, so that the piece can convey itself effectively. 

“Often people think that the worst that can happen is that people don’t like art, but the worst is when people don’t see it, don’t identify it as art, simply ignore it.” 

The curator did not want to have to explain what artwork belonged to which artist, so 

the graphic designer selected a color inside each work to write the name of the artist.

“What this does is that we will associate the image with the name without it having to be explained,” Goyer-Ouimette notes. 

Two of the 17 artists, Jim Holyoak and Matt Shane, work in synchronicity. Their work through the project is present on a bus shelter. 

“One draws, and the other adds to it, they are truly working together,” notes Goyer-Ouimette. “It’s a visual folly, the more you look at their work, the more you notice details. The drawing of one leads to the intervention of the other.” 

On the other hand, Rafael Sottolichio’s work — displayed on a highway poster — deals with the theme of family coming out of the pandemic and external family reunions. Such works are a reminder of what we have just experienced throughout the pandemic . 

The artworks intersect with the theme of togetherness through different meanings and mediums. 

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