Art, Architecture, Landscape and Environment

Over the last fifty years, many artists opened painting, sculpture, and film to the architectural space around them, and during the same period many architects became involved in visual art. Sometimes a collaboration, sometimes a competition, this encounter is now a primary site of image-making and space-shaping in our cultural economy. Only in part is the importance of this conjunction due to the increased prominence of art museums; it involves the identity of many other institutions, as corporations and governments turn to the art-architecture connection in order to attract business and to brand cities with art centers, festivals, and the like. Often where art and architecture converge is also where questions about new materials, technologies, and media come into focus; […].[1].

In 2018, the International Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul (ISCABSP) moved to École Thomas-Tremblay (school), marking an important turning point in the evolution of this annual event that has become indispensable to the Quebec cultural scene. For the 37th edition, the ISCABSP is proposing the theme of Art, Architecture and Environment, a subject that occurs quite naturally in the wake of the issues broached in the previous edition of Art and Politics. It is important to have Ariadne’s thread weave a continuation of ideas, which will link the editions of the same artistic direction. Already, at the beginning of my mandate in 2017, I had the feeling that issues of Art, Architecture, Landscape and Environment would emerge. The main idea is to give the artists an opportunity to appropriate the new Symposium building, with the first objective being to create in situ works both inside and outside the École walls. This would be a gesture, an artistic, political and social impetus for some kind of collective creation in the Baie-Saint-Paul community itself.

Of course, this is not the first time that artists will take over public space with site-specific works but having a collective goal while respecting the individual work of each artist will represent, in my view, a new challenge and a most stimulating adventure. An undertaking that moves away from the commissions of the “art-architecture complex,”[2] closely linked to our evolving capitalist society. Art, Architecture, Landscape and Environment can undeniably illustrate the representation of power, according to the sponsors’ recommended contexts.

Art, architecture, landscape and the environment have come together in Quebec since 1961 when the Ministère des Travaux Publics et Approvisionnements (Department of Public Works and Supplies), then under the guidance of René Lévesque, created the Politique d’embellissement (embellishment policy). Since its establishment in 1981, the Politique d’intégration des arts à l’architecture et à l’environnement des édifices gouvernementaux et publics du Québec (Government of Québec’s Policy of Integration of the Arts into Architecture and environment of public buildings), commonly called the Politique du 1% (the Percent for art Policy), one is obliged to note that the Quebec population still knows little about this legacy of the Révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution) and some artists still perceive it in a negative fashion.

The “Debates” section of La Presse+ for Sunday, March 19, 2017 devoted several articles on architecture and its place in the urban landscape and the community, clearly voicing the idea that civil society now must take the importance of architecture into account. It is the guarantee of a better quality of life, and of sustainable development. It is part of the current climate, in the zeitgeist so to speak. A similar awareness is taking place everywhere around the world. During the 2019 ISCABSP, this conversation will be an opportunity for the artists to grasp and delve deeply into this inevitable and essential reflection about the future of our societies. This is not an institutional or official project, quite the contrary, rather it is a collective action that will leave traces and enable the invention of a new paradigm of “art in the public space” whether urban or rural. Is this utopian? I think not.

For the ISCABSP 2019 edition, post-G7, it would be inspiring to go against the current of public art policies in use now and make them “unofficial.” Following the example of Gordon Matta-Clark’s work carried out in the 1970s, which was always conceived of on the razor’s edge between art and architecture, which artist designated as anarchitecture, and was developed from a socio-historical reflection on these two forms, often creating tension between one and the other. One might imagine a process that includes an investigation about the local, regional and tourist populations, that could enrich the artists’ reflections. But this “methodology” must not in any way prevent the artists from having carte blanche in their conception and production of this ambitious program and its outcome.

The issues and challenges of this “worksite” will obviously be major: the artists will have to be in favour of a collective and convivial way of working towards a common goal, while keeping their own conceptual and aesthetic identities. They must take into account not only the building in which they will be carrying out the work, but also the Baie-Saint-Paul environment, its geography and topography, so remarkable at the foot of the mountains and on the banks of the St Lawrence River, nestled in the Charlevoix astrobleme, a crater created by the impact of a meteorite 400 million years ago.[3] They also must take into consideration this “landscape art village”, its history since the early 20th century, and the various communities who have visited the area and who live here today.

Beyond the politics of public art, the matter of the environment, in its broadest sense, is crucial at the moment. The American administration has refuted the Paris Accord. The oceans have become the wasteland of the planet; debates about the electrification of collective and individual transportation and the willingness to stop depending on fossil fuels are issues increasingly integrated into some art practices. This theme will be an opportunity to reflect on art in the landscape and the environment (including built heritage, old and contemporary, road infrastructures and so on) in a more general way in order to express the glaring problems that we are confronted with today. We could then consider constructing a laboratory of Building and Land Art 3.0 or Art of the Environment 3.0 (built, natural, social, historical, artistic, technological and so on) for the 2019 edition of the Symposium of Baie-Saint-Paul.

All visual art and media art disciplines are welcome. Here are some subjects, among others, that could be combined for the project:

  1. Is Architecture, as one of the first two arts with music, still compatible with the visual arts, in projects to integrate art into architecture, such as was hoped for, in nearly the last 60 years?
  2. Working with architects, landscape designers and environmental specialists, to succeed in truly integrating a project, prior to the establishment of the architectural program for a building or for the landscaping design.
  3. Inventing a new model for bringing together art, architecture and environment.
  4. These three areas of activity understood as a call to construct a peaceful world, in rebuilding cities that armed conflicts and natural disasters have destroyed. To conceive of “intelligent” and qualitative cities for all levels of society.
  5. Some architects have designed model refugee camps in which life is less difficult than in those where access to decent hygiene, drinking water and privacy is limited, even impossible. Is it possible to think about such temporary places where people would not feel excluded from society?
  6. Could the “landscape,” understood in its Euclidian and broadest sense since the Italian Renaissance, be transformed into something more open, more inclusive (think digital but not exclusively)?
  7. Are collaborations between people in the arts, architecture, the environment and sustainable development, as well as the community’s contributions, purely utopic or unattainable visions? Or could we make them happen?

Sylvie Lacerte, Ph.D.

Artistic Director, ISCABSP

[1] Hal Foster, The Art and Architecture Complex, London; New York: Verso, 2011, p. vii.

[2] Ibid.

[3] I am thinking here of the late Jean-Claude Rochefort’s doctoral theses Ruines et meteors, which could be an inspiration for this project or at least serve as a very rich reference tool.

The Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul (MACBSP) is designated as the organization that manages the event entitled International Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul. Twelve artists will be selected on the following basis : Six artists originating from the province of Québec, one of whom is from the Montmorency Charlevoix-Côte-Nord federal district, three Canadian artists, and three international artists. All projects are to be approved by the committee.

The MACBSP agrees to:

  • Pay the amount of $4,500 CAD to cover the costs of the materials and copyright fee for the use of the artwork for promotional purposes (in two (2) separate payments).
  • Provide lodging.
  • Pay for round-trip transportation between the residence of the Artist and Baie-Saint-Paul.
  • Provide studio space on the site of the Symposium.
    The ARTIST agrees to:
  • Be present at the site five (5) days a week, Wednesday to Sunday, from 12 noon to 5PM, for the entire duration of the Symposium.
  • Create a work on site and to finish it by the conclusion of the Symposium.
  • Interact and converse with the visitors.
  • Participate in parallel activities.
  • Present his or her work at the « Encounters with the artist ».
  • Provide one’s own transportation during the stay in Baie-Saint-Paul.

The selection comittee will choose the participants based on the quality of the projects and their relevance to the theme of the symposium. Files deemed incomplete will not be retained for consideration.

The MACBSP may acquire for its collection one or several works, upon agreement with the artist, either in monetary terms (up to $1,000 CAN), or through the issuance of a tax credit, or a combination of both.

Sandra Lavoie, Programming Assistant
418 435-3681

To apply to the 37th International Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul, please complete all required sections of this form. The total size of your documents can not exceed 20 meg. The deadline is November 15 2018 at 11:59 pm. Once submitted, it is not possible to change your form. You will receive an answer to your project by email during the month of January 2019. The registration fee is $ 25 CAD, payable by Paypal.