The Unusual Passages – Outdoor Art in Quebec City

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:

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” displayed down the street

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.

We viewed some of these at nighttime while walking back from dinner to the hotel. They were still quite visible at night as they were illuminated by the streetlights.

Above Ground Pool (Piscine Hors-Terre)

Photo Credit: Le Soleil

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:

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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…

…and the nighttime.

Great Wind (Mèches Noires)

Photo Credit: Le Soleil

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)

The Odyssey was located at the base of Rue du Petit-Champlain and features three giant pigeons gawking at a huge can of Campbell’s Soup. It was created by Cooke-Sasseville:

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:

Push a Stump! (Pousse une Souche!)

Push a Stump! was an interactive display that encouraged people to play with small pegs of wood that slid through either side of a larger board. It was created by 1X1X1 Laboratoire de Création:

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.

16 Responses

  1. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling
    | Reply

    Those installations are so cool!

    • Lauren | Justin Plus Lauren
      | Reply

      They really were! We really enjoyed checking them all out!

  2. Cristina Valente
    | Reply

    Darn! I just came back from Vieux Québec! I must have missed this! I love street art and this looks extra unique! Made for some great photos!

    • Lauren | Justin Plus Lauren
      | Reply

      Ah! Oh well, what can you do! Isn’t Quebec fantastic! We had a great time!

  3. slightly astray
    | Reply

    How cool! I love quirky art displays like this! I especially like the blue chairs (look so relaxing) and those pool noodles!

    • Lauren | Justin Plus Lauren
      | Reply

      Lots of people were enjoying both the blue chairs and the pool noodles! So much fun! :)

  4. vegan miam
    | Reply

    The first photo looks amazing…. I love unusual exhibits like this! Wow, I would love to visit Quebec City and be able to explore these art exhibitions in person! Thank you for sharing these quirky moments ;)

    • Lauren | Justin Plus Lauren
      | Reply

      Thanks! It was something different and fun to see what artwork would be at the next bend!

  5. Outbound Adventurers
    | Reply

    I really, really want to run through the Noodle Delirium!

    • Lauren | Justin Plus Lauren
      | Reply

      It was really fun to run though!!! Really cool little alleyway of pool noodles :)

  6. Katie@From Shores to Skylines
    | Reply

    The above ground pool and the noodles are pretty cool. And I love the peg one looks fun! It’s great that you included the artist’s description, as a non-artsy person it really helps me understand some of them more (especially that first one – lol)!

    • Lauren | Justin Plus Lauren
      | Reply

      I wouldn’t have grasped some of it unless I read the descriptions either. I might have started to make up my own interpretations, which could be equally as fun! :)

  7. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    | Reply

    I remember seeing part of that Noodle art installation in your Instagram feed, so it’s nice to know a little more about it. That first piece you show with all the colorful, summery plastic pieces is a lot of fun, too. Although, I don’t know that I would have concluded that it was a statement on consumerism and hoarding if you had not told us.

  8. veganinbrighton
    | Reply

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE this exhibition! I was super into it from the start but then I saw the giant pigeon and now i’m in love.

  9. duaba
    | Reply

    omg what an exciting exhibit! i think i’d love to see the above ground pool the best but all of it just seems awesome! thanks for posting this :)

  10. Quebec City 3 Day Itinerary - Justin Plus Lauren
    | Reply

    […] town, we ate dinner at Chez Victor, and wandered around Lower Town of Old Quebec, checking out the Unusual Passages outdoor art exhibition. We spent our first evening overnight at Le Saint-Pierre Auberge […]

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