Montreal’s inaugural initiative Collective of Canadian Creators (CCC), FICTIONS brings together a range of established and emerging local designers and artists in a unique sensory virtual exhibition. Set in an indescribable post-apocalyptic space somewhere in the heart of the city, thirteen pieces by eight Canadian designers wait patiently for viewers to examine their elegance – and question their usefulness.
Organized by Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, contemporary curator, design specialist, architect and native of Montreal, FICTIONS “Explore Montreal’s new creative wave of making objects that are the protagonists of stories. Commissioned for the exhibition, Montreal-based writer and director Daniel Canty text A line of light, decompresses the spectacle and its connection to the idiosyncratic characteristics of the city. He introduced the concept of “Montreal” and wrote: “Walking through its mosaic streets, we witness a general stylistic disorder: grafted to the multiplexes inherited from a working century, are box-shaped condos, while, here and there, an “ architect’s house ” and occasional subsidized housing still unravel the fabric. The program is vague, always nervous, always approximate. “
The immersive showcase blurs the lines between art and design, familiar and unfamiliar, bringing together a unique cast of multidisciplinary artists around central themes of place-specific apocalyptic wonder: how do you conceive of an unknowable future? What will design look like in Montreal’s future?
“The desire is for people to take away a sense of hope,” says Quinlan Osborne of Claste Collection, one of the designers featured on the show. “Hope in general, but also hope for the future of design, and in particular Canadian design”, which he describes as a resilient and inventive community “that has persevered and found inspiration in the ‘shadow”.
Selection from four different camera angles (a traveling point of view, an aerial surveillance type point of view, a detailed point of view at ground level and a visitor point of view), FICTIONS viewers can look into a world where familiar shapes, objects and scenes are mutated and transformed by the visions of each individual designer.
“It’s not just about watching – you actually have to create your own tour, like a choose your own adventure type experience,” says Laurence Gélinas, editor-in-chief of CCC. “By providing different points of view, we are able to capture more detail and show the beauty and texture of materiality with the big picture.”
In stark contrast to current social distancing measures, viewers are encouraged to play with the ideas of proximity and control, distance and invasion. Both disturbing and inspiring, the exhibition offerings are set in a haunting minimalist soundscape of intimate and narrative composer Philippe Brault, whose influences for this project include Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Daniel L’opalin and Kraftwerk.
The cinematic assemblage raises questions about who might be the user of a particular object and what purpose those objects might serve. Canty’s text questions the relationship between objects, thus reinforcing his view that “showiness” is a state of a united, patchwork character.
According to curator Bellavance-Lecompte, Montreal architecture itself provided the initial inspiration for the exhibition: “The city has a very post-industrial nostalgic vibe, a reminiscence of French grandeur, diversity and clashes. political… they are stories of different lives, of different imaginations. and ideals. ” FICTIONS evokes the sparse industrial settings and eerie, shifting light of past and present sci-fi works, lit by everything from the 1961 asteroid film Battle of the worlds and Tarkovsky Solaris at Kubrick’s 2001: A space odyssey and Tom Ford A single man.
Gélinas also quotes the pandemic world we are slowly getting used to: “The strong contrast between the outside and the inside seemed like an appealing way to show a city’s rebirth after COVID-19. Artists emerging from the darkness after a long, quiet break.
The result is an environment that feels both isolated and exposed. “By going underground so to speak, the exhibit acquires a sense of community that is preparing to emerge,” says Osborne. “How we choose to get out of this situation will fundamentally inform what happens next, both culturally and artistically. The hope is that FICTIONS presents a starting point for the discussions that need to take place in the design community as part of this transition from what has been to what can be.