Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Stock en transit

17 July-18 October 2014, Rue Sault-au-Matelot , Quebec City, Canada

On a bright October lunchtime, after visiting the Museum of Civilisation in old Quebec City, Canada, the walk along the neighbouring street Rue Sault-au-Matelot proved to be quite a colourful experience. This quiet street of private homes and small shops was punctuated by a series of plastic objects clustered together and hanging from the walls of the buildings. Large plastic objects such as dustbins, children’s toys, chairs and buckets appeared - as if they were ejected from the very stone surfaces they clung to. Clean, bright and bold plastic shapes emerged along the street and the objects seemed to enjoy their time in the autumn sunshine. 

Stock en transit (Stock in Transit) - Les Passages Insolites (The Unusual Passages) 
images taken by Kirsten Hardie
The vibrant plastics, everyday items grouped together in dynamic form, were presented as a series of art installations. The clusters of objects looked playful and appeared to tumble from the buildings. The plastic items arrested the attention of passing pedestrians (mainly cruise ship passengers from the ocean liner moored at the nearby waterfront ) and contrasted sharply with the traditional street of old Quebec - a city that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A poster on a wall explained the presence of a plastic canoe, sandpits, wheelbarrows and watering cans. The poster’s text identified:

With a pinch of irony Stock en transit (Stock in Transit) playfully brings together an impressive number of colourful objects from our familiar surroundings. These polymorphous sculptures question the elusiveness of things as well as our tendency towards excessive consumption and hoarding of diverse objects, especially in the summertime.

The poster identified the work as that of Argentinian born artist José Luis Torres and explained:

EXMURO arts public, in collaboration with the Ville de Quebec, is proud to present its new project of intervention in a public space. The project brings together professional visual artists and collectives of architects from the Quebec City area to deploy intriguing ephemeral installations over six sites. Guest creators have produced unprecedented works that playfully bring the neighborhood [sic] to life while questioning our relation to the world and the urban public space. Their work reflect the strength and boldness of Quebec City artists.

This artist’s work presents a powerful celebration of plastic perhaps. The common objects that usually offer functional value are given space and time to speak to viewers in a different way. Their very plastic forms shape the dynamism of the displays.

Jos̩ Luis Torres does indeed pose questions through this work. Do we overlook the quality of the forms and the qualities of plastic in our use of everyday items such as watering cans? May be we do hoard such items Рmany a shed, beach hut and garage houses such items.

The familiar shapes and bold primary colours of the plastic objects that this artist uses presents an interesting conundrum when encountered in such a historic setting. Surprisingly perhaps the beauty of the items shines through and the installations - as interventions in a public space- pose playful engagement for the passer-by.

For further information please see:

Dr Kirsten Hardie (Guest Blogger)


Dr Kirsten Hardie is a National Teaching Fellow and Associate Professor at the Arts University at Bournemouth. Kirsten’s love of plastics and notably kitsch design features in much of her research and pedagogic work. Kirsten’s interest in object-based learning (OBL) underscores many of her key learning and teaching and research activities. Kirsten happened to come across Stock en transit - Les Passages Insolites whilst attending the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference in Quebec City.

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