News

Occupy-Themed Light Projection Removed from Montreal Biennale

Isabelle Hayeur, "Murs Aveugles" (2014) (photo by Isabelle Hayeur/Twitter)
Isabelle Hayeur, “Murs Aveugles” (2014) (photo by Isabelle Hayeur/Twitter)

A politically charged video projection by the artist Isabelle Hayeur has been pulled from the Biennale de Montréal, which opened earlier this month, after the owner of the building on whose exterior it was being shown complained, according to La Presse.

The video, titled “Murs Aveugles” (or “Blind Walls”), premiered on October 8 and was to continue being projected onto the side of a building next to the Saint-Laurent metro station on the eastern edge of downtown Montreal through November 23. However, after the property owner complained, and because the piece was designed specifically for that space, the work will no longer be shown. The piece was commissioned by the Biennale de Montréal and projected at the site in partnership with the Quartier des Spectacles, which helps facilitate and organize the many cultural events and festivals that take place in the neighborhood.

“The video stopped being projected after two weeks, in response to a complaint laid by the building’s owner,” Hayeur wrote in an announcement. “Unfortunately, all attempts at dialogue and conciliation have failed, since the owner has refused to meet me. Even though projects have been shown on this wall for a few years already and it is part of the permanent projection network of the Quartier des spectacles, it appears there was no formal understanding binding the institution and the building’s owner. Since they did not have the necessary rights to continue with the projections, the Biennale de Montréal and the Quartier des spectacles have decided to withdraw the work, the latter concerned among other things that it might put in question future projects on this site.”

The complaint was allegedly not motivated by the content of the work, which was inspired by the local Occupy movement. Nearby Square Victoria served as the focal point of Occupons Montréal, hosting a camp of peaceful protesters between October 15 and November 25, 2011. Hayeur visited the site, which was renamed “Place du peuple” (“People’s Square”) by the protesters, taking photographs and recording the slogans being chanted. She then incorporated these records of the protests into “Murs Aveugles.”

“It is made up of graffiti, slogans, symbols and citations that are superimposed on the projection surface to form virtual murals,” Hayeur explains in the project’s description. “I use it to tackle topics such as gentrification, social inequalities, media convergence, the environment … Different language levels are brought together to abolish hierarchies.”

Though her video projection has been taken down, Hayeur’s works are also featured in the Biennale exhibition at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal.

The Biennale de Montréal continues at sites throughout the city until January 4, 2015.

comments (0)