trace(s): a public intervention as studio practice

Square Victoria Metro Station, Montreal

Une communauté d'étrangers : l'espace public de la parole chez Devora Neumark

This event was a public intervention / durational interdisciplinary performance and audio collaborative with Hèléne Engel and Danielle Boutet sponsored in part by Cobalt Art Actuel as part of their "Les ateliers s'exposent": Computer-aided photographic imaging output (90' x 4' cut into approximately 5,000 rectangles of 2.25" x 8"), audio recording, live voice and image manipulations at the hands of approximately 30 invited volunteer participants and countless metro users over a period of 60 hours were all part of this event during two weeks in October.

Within the domed space of the Square Victoria Metro Station -- a nexus, a point of transit(ion) -- the authority of sound and image in personal and communal commemorative processes was explored. Transformed images of "monumental bodies" portraying women as angel, mother, virgin... (originally sculpted in stone as grave markers and representing the virtues), were made to interact with the bricked wall surfaces of the dome's interior.

The interactive visual and audio components served to question cultural and religious fabrications of the "ideal" woman. Aishes Chayil (a portion taken from Proverbs 31:10-31) is, among other things, a song by men in tribute to their wives in traditional Jewish households, as part of the Friday evening Sabbath ceremony. In choosing to have women interpret the passages through real-time voice and hand manipulations, a challenging -- potentially disruptive -- reinterpretation of traditional constructions of women is asserted. Inserting a space for reflection and the possibility for emotional response in the rotunda of the Square Victoria metro station -- to counter the images created in the idealization of women -- offered an incongruous public context for personal mourning; ultimately a private experience, a transient perception.