Every Foot Of The Sidewalk: boulevard Saint-Laurent
original mixed media, google map, photos, pencil, tape
42” x 276”
FOFA Gallery exhibition, Montreal (2013)
“Philippe Guillaume’s Every Foot of the Sidewalk: boulevard Saint-Laurent (2010-2012) currently exhibited at the FOFA Gallery is a compilation of photographic cityscapes of the desolate Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Upon entering the FOFA’s main gallery, the viewer is immediately immersed in the eerie void created by these rarely captured moments of what is commonly the busy and populated Boulevard Saint-Laurent. One of the works, Working map of Every Foot of the Sidewalk: boulevard Saint-Laurent (2010-2012) displays a linear arrangement of photographs in parallel with a Google map image of the boulevard. The map is numbered, indicating the specific locations in which the photographs were taken. This work invites the viewer to participate by locating him/herself along this frequently visited and familiar street. In depicting this Montreal landmark, the artist is attempting to offer a new or perhaps different perspective of the space and street by removing its principal component of people. Guillaume’s work encompasses the act, art and history of walking and photography in order to explore concepts of space, community and a lack there of.
Among the books and articles left for consultation in the center of the main gallery lies Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Solnit seems to have played an influential role in the artist’s process and discussion of this work. The void captured in the photographs brings attention to a conversation common in Solnit’s work, regarding streets, people and shared spaces. Streets, such as boulevard Saint-Laurent, act as a space of congregation, a space for festivals, parades, revolutions and protests. They act as a place for voicing and displaying one’s citizenship, a shared and “unsegregated zone.”Particularly in light of the student protests last year in Montreal, Guillaume’s city of no citizens explores an interesting juxtaposition between the possible usages of space that touches on many social, political and spatial discussions relevant today. — Review written by Caro Loutfi.