Wagon Blues: A Traveling Installation

Travel and displacement changes our physical and mental boundaries and one Quebec artist will bring this concept to life this summer during the fourth annual Art in the.

Visual artist Christine Comeau is interested in the idea of nomadic lifestyles and incorporates this idea into her work. On August 23, Comeau will bring her living canvas project to the streets of downtown Charlottetown. Her piece, Wagon Blues, is a choreographed tableau vivant, a performance installation about the wanderings of a small community of nomadic creatures, half-human, half-animal, dragging their caravans and luggage around the city and who are “both curious and frightened by the discovery of this strange world.”
Comeau, who received her MFA from Laval University, said artistic residencies and art festivals like this one are an integral part of her practice.
“They combine art, travel and passage,” she said via E-mail earlier this month. “As human beings we discover the public space as a medium for very different forms of interaction.”
For her piece, the Montreal resident said she and her participants will wear connectable clothing that can be fastened together so they become one unit as they move about town.
“Bound by the ties, my movements are affecting the movement of my companions,” she explained, adding the volunteers can conceal their identity.
“It allows them to experience their alienation from themselves,” she said. “Alienation is also a feeling of being different from others.”
Wagon Blues is being curated by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery as part of the Centre’s mandate to not only promote local art, but to promote art from across the country as well. This is one of three pieces from Quebec to be featured this year.
The Centre’s curator, Pan Wendt, said he first saw some of Comeau’s work at an underground art festival in Montreal and liked how colourful and abstract it was. As co-coordinator for Art in the Open, he thought her style would be a good for the festival.
“In a way, the main interest for Art in the Open is pieces that are ephemeral,” he said, explaining that such sculptures are mobile and temporarily connect to the body.
“Imagine a tent with wheels and the canvas is physically attached to the performers and there will be a caravan of weird presences,” he said. “It’s abstract, it’ll be kind of confusing to people who will be distracted by the moving installation.”
Nomadism shakes things up, and brings to the public the dynamics between strangers through the medium of art, Comeau said, adding she is excited to be part of this summer’s festival.
“To be somewhere else, to reinvent my daily life elsewhere, to stroll, to lose myself in cities’ labyrinths, to wait, to meet people, to invite them to take part in my parades or my interventions, she said. “All these movements and these gestures are majorly important in my existence, as well as in my artistic approach.”
For more information about Art in the Open, visit artintheopenpei.com.

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