Remurmurer la terre: homage to Yvon Forget, exhibition project as part of the Triennale Banlieue! Interregnates

La maison des arts de Laval, August-October 2022. This project is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.

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Since 2011 I have been sourcing clays in nature with which I draw, throw and model. In 2019 I started harvesting it where I live, in the great plain of Montreal along the lowlands of the St. Lawrence, mainly in Saint-Hyacinthe and Sainte-Rosalie. The Montreal Plain was the main clay sedimentation basin in the Champlain Sea 10,000 years ago. This high quality clay tells the story of our territory and our history.

 

In the spring, when I opened the pail in which clay collected from farmland in Saint-Hyacinthe is deposited, I discovered green twigs, very much alive and on which fine droplets of water cling. My astonishment was great all the more so as no light stimulates the growth of this delicate vegetation in a bucket filled with clay.

 

It is this surprising discovery that prompts me to deepen the links between my work with clay and agriculture and to work with a farmer for the triennial.

 

This summer, I met Mr. Luc Forget, farmer, who confirmed the presence of clay on his land and agreed to work with me. During our first meeting, Luc Forget gave me a book of the memories of his father Yvon, who died in 2019. In his words, it was to allow me to better understand his origins and the importance of saving farmland. The Forget family is a root family settled for 7 generations on Île Jésus.

 

Yvon Forget fought all his life for the protection of the agricultural land of Laval. In his eyes, land is a family heritage to be protected and bequeathed to his children. In the middle of the 20th century, he also resisted the temptation to give up his land against tempting offers from German companies wishing to store potentially dangerous residues of chemical factories there. In order to protect arable land from speculation, he also met the then premier of Quebec, Maurice Duplessis, and laid the foundations for what would become the law on the protection of agricultural land. Today his son Luc, provides me with the clay from his land to make a work in tribute to his father.

 

Yvon Forget was a pioneer who worked to ensure the handover between the generations. This is the final reason for my choice to make network channels like mycorrhizae which, through the symbiotic association between fungi and plant roots, ensure the transfer of nutrients essential to soil fertility and good harvests.

 

I note that from landscapes, territories, communities, works carried out, the gathering of clay allows me to probe the incredible and rich multiplicity of a world whose tangled ramifications mutually nourish each other. Through careful observation and active listening, my work engages me in a dialogue with people and with nature. And allows me to hope that it also tends to the passing of a story.