Remurmurer la terre: hommage à Yvon Forget, exhibition project as part of the Triennale Banlieue! Interrègnes
La maison des arts de Laval, August-October 2022. This project is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Since 2011 I have been collecting clays in the wild with which I draw, shape and throw. In 2019 I started to pick some where I live, in the great plain of Montreal along the St. Lawrence river lowlands mainly in Saint-Hyacinthe and Sainte-Rosalie. The Montreal plain is the main clay sedimentation basin of 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 bucket in which clay collected from a farm in Saint-Hyacinthe was placed, I discovered green twigs, well alive, on which fine droplets of water clung. I was astonished, especially since 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 safeguarding farmland. The Forget family is a root family that has been living on Île Jésus for seven generations.
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 reason behind my choice to make network channels like mycorrhizae which ensure through the symbiotic association between mushrooms and the roots of plants the transfer of nutrients essential for soil fertility and good harvests.
I notice 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 let me hope that it tends also to the passing of a story.