“Jump Start Summer!” was a call to Montrealers to support the city’s restaurants, stores, hotels, artists and creators. How? By going out, exploring, encouraging local businesses, taking a mini-vacation in their city.
MASSIVart acted as artistic consultants and operated the production management of 7 public art installations. Relaxing stops carefully arranged by Montreal artists, designers or creative studios to (re)discover iconic downtown locations.
Among them, Judith Portier, with whom we collaborated for the installation “Ça va bien aller !” and to whom we wanted to give the floor. Judith was given carte blanche to express herself on how public art projects are helpful, even more so in today’s context. She also tells us more about the artistic process that led to the creation of the installation we collaborated on.
I am a passionate human being, an entrepreneur and a Montreal designer. I am the founder of Design Par Judith Portier inc. (DPJP), a studio oriented towards event design. That is to say, the creation of spaces with a temporary vocation for the needs of exhibitions, communication, cultural gatherings, in short, contact with visitors!
Drawing on my experience in planning, layout and design for numerous festivals, scripting the space and the interactions between its users have been at the heart of my work. It has led me to produce projects in all kinds of contexts, indoors and outdoors, in all seasons, both in private or public spaces. I have managed to stand out thanks to my multidisciplinary background. I never hesitate to surround myself with people to take up challenges.
Challenges are numerous in public spaces. These places are often unsupervised and subjected to all kinds of bad weather. Furthermore, you have to carefully choose how to set up to leave everything intact after a temporary intervention, which must, however, be solid! Outside, especially in the city, we compete with a very dense visual and sound environment.
These constraints have always become motivating creative challenges. That’s how I founded my studio, whose approach is based on the study of the characteristics of a place to bring out its strengths through scenographic interventions that create new worlds. DPJP works in museums and cities to develop interpretation paths, installations, signage and artistic installations that stand out by their colourful integration into their space.
This summer, our industry was deeply shaken by the pandemic, and our work was strongly impacted. There has been a significant change of pace in design. Therefore, I took the opportunity to get involved in a collaboration with MASSIVart, for a project carried out with the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership. It consisted of deploying several artistic and design installations in various areas of the city of Montreal. For Jean-Paul Riopelle Park, our mission was to create a robust, attractive scenography inspired by Montreal’s cultural identity, a UNESCO City of Design. The idea was to highlight the space to reveal and enhance it. By choosing to intervene on the trees, we wanted to pay tribute to the place by transforming it into an enchanted forest where it is pleasant to walk, even alone.
We wanted to focus on the park’s interior by choosing trees in its heart rather than on the periphery to promote intimacy and calm in the heart of the urbanity. The choice of vibrant and saturated colours is in continuity with the highly coloured facade of the Palais des Congrès. It was a choice to harmonize them to promote a reassuring atmosphere and avoid being at odds with the environment. Named “Ça va bien aller”, the project is a reflection of our positive state of mind. A form of withdrawing from what we can’t control. Choosing to wait for the weather to be inviting again in a shimmering place, escaping the movement of fear that paralyzes the mind.
A new and different place where we want to go back to because it appeals to us, always brings a little spark to a neighbourhood. A project that we like to see again always has a positive effect, even if we see it for the hundredth time. A short break was well appreciated by all those who spoke to us when we were there. According to them, we managed to create a cocoon in a park that we perceived was cold due to its location.
It is animated by a discreet but well present fauna. For the lady who comes to read, the individual who comes to walk his dogs, to Enzo, a well-known homeless person, to the worker in charge of the maintenance who makes his round several times a day, to the man in a suit who took the habit to cross the street to drink his coffee, all felt a deeper sense of belonging to the park, thanks to the art which, for a few months, made it special.
Within the COVID-19’s context, this unplanned culture of art in the city is in opposition to a place like a festival where one can expect a transformation of the environment. It is why it always provokes surprise among passers-by. This moment can be very positive on a person’s journey! That is why it is important to use our vision and skills to bring a little happiness to the city, even more so in the current context.
As we, almost, do everything ourselves and always end up being on the installation’s ground, we have formed an army affectionately called the #fillesdedesign. Over time, it has become our community but also our artist’s name to communicate on social media. It was great to be away from teleworking to create our installation!
Earlier this summer, we were fortunate to deliver the “Bleu Tomate” turnkey project. Thanks to a request for proposals from the City of Montreal’s Design Office, which qualified more than 70 firms on its territory to create an innovative design laboratory in response to COVID-19. We were able to put to good use our knowledge of temporary and modular design, sustainable development and the creation of human interactions to rethink these transitional spaces that improve some of the city’s streets. We develop a functional and fun project that serves its users’ needs while becoming a landmark in the urban landscape.
We took up the challenge to improve a living environment that is dear to our hearts, as the project is located a few steps away from our studio and in our residential neighbourhood. The Marché Solidaire, already present on the street, attracts many visitors every week. The residents of the community are looking for ways to enjoy the nice weather while respecting the rules of social distancing.