After an eight hour drive from Toronto, we arrived in Quebec City at our hotel, Le Saint-Pierre in Basse-Ville (Lower Town). Our first thought was to grab some dinner as we were pretty hungry. Stepping out of our hotel and walking along the street that ran behind it (Rue Du Sault-Au-Matelot), we immediately noticed brightly colored objects hanging from the historic buildings. We discovered that these seemingly random items were a part of an outdoor art exhibition in Quartier du Petit Champlain called “Les Passages Insolites”, or in English, “The Unusual Passages”.
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From the official website:
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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 to life while questioning our relation to the world and the urban public space. Their works reflect the strength and boldness of Quebec City artists.
Stock In Transit (Stock En Transit)
The first art display we saw was called “Stock in Transit”. There were several different sculpted works in various locations down Rue Du Sault-Au-Matelot. The artist is José Luis Torres, and here is a description of the art piece:
With a pinch of irony, Stock en transit (Stock in Transit) playfully brings together an impressive number of colorful 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.
It was so interesting to see these brightly colored objects reminiscent of summertime spilling out from window frames, fire escapes, and hanging from the walls juxtaposed with the historic architecture of Old Quebec. They stood out wildly and had many people snapping shots with their cameras or posing alongside the art. We found four different pieces of art along this street that corresponded with the “Stock In Transit” display.
Above Ground Pool (Piscine Hors-Terre)
We must have walked past this one about a gazillion times and didn’t even realize it was part of the art exhibit until we returned home! We really just thought there were just some nice chairs placed outside for people to sit on. As it turns out, this was the interactive art display called “Piscine Hors-Terre” or “Above Ground Pool” by Plux 5 and the Collectif de la Fourchette. As described by the artists:
The installation is a breath of fresh air, an ode to the lightness of summer afternoons, to the fleeting moments where the everyday frenzy gives way to the passive observation of a melting turbo rocket popsicle. Distorted perceptions and hijacked symbols immerse the passersby in a strange pond where they can take a dip and daydream beneath the meanders of water. Free swim every day.
This art display can be found on a street right beside Place Royale. In fact, we enjoyed some sangria on a patio at La Pizz Restaurant directly beside this little side street and saw many people relaxing on the chairs, taking in the scenery.
Noodle Delirium (Delirious Frites)
This one couldn’t help catching our eyes! Noodle Delirium was located on Rue Saint-Paul and was created by Collecif Arg – Les Astronautes. It was made completely out of pool noodles creating a tunnel to walk through (or ride your bike through, as we saw one teenage boy attempt while some teenage girls screamed and many people laughed!). Here is the artists’ description:
The installation transforms a discreet anonymous crack into an intriguing, colourful, textured passage. The stroller who ventures through it finds himself caught in a canal where pool noodles are used to modulate tactile, nearly organic paths that feel sensuous to some yet troubling to others.
We visited this one in the daytime…
For whatever reason, we missed this art installation entirely. It was located just up the street from Noodle Delirium on Rue Saint-Paul. It was created by Laurent Gagnon:
Mysterious amusing yet threatening shapes organically spring from a facade on St-Paul Street. Entanglements of sensuous, waving cedar fragments sprawl above our heads. These reminders of the wind flow also depict the unpredictable fluctuations of algae, of hair, or the sinuous wiring of the nervous system.
The Odyssey (L’Odyssée)
A park is taken over by three oversized pigeons with their eye on a can of Campbell soup. These birds look like they cannot figure out how to open the object or how much food it contains. A reference to pop art and Andy Warhol, the installation becomes a representation of the so-called hermeticism that brings criticism to contemporary art.
We took a few photos with the soup and pigeons, so you can truly grasp the size of this work of art:
The St. Laurence River is a trading area, a gateway to the world, a place of material, economical and human passages. The interactive installation offers an opportunity to leave a temporary mark and interact directly with a live person on the other side. Newly created shapes, transformed by the comings and goings, reflect exchanges in constant renewal and remodeling.
I decided to give it a try by leaning back on it to see if the wooden pegs would shape to my body! It was really hard to lean on the wooden pegs to push them through (it hurt a bit!), so I cheated a little and pushed them through with my hands. This artwork definitely captured the curiosity of many people!
The Unusual Passages exhibit in Quebec City’s Quartier Petit Champlain was a lot of fun to explore as we didn’t know what would be lurking around the bend! It was great to have a mix of conceptual art and interactive exhibits. And one of the best parts of this art exhibition? It’s completely free for everyone to enjoy! The Unusual Passages happens 24 hours a day, and it’s located in an interesting area of town that you’d most likely be interested in visiting while in Quebec. There really aren’t any excuses to get out there, discover, and explore for yourself while in Quebec City!
You can visit this outdoor art in Quebec City from July 14th – October 18th, 2014. Visit the official website for a detailed map describing where each art piece is located.