The latest edition of
‘Passages Insolites’

Nine installations that question our relation to the world and the urban space

Via v2com

For its fourth edition, Passages Insolites (Unusual Passages) is back in downtown Quebec City until October 15. Developed by EXMURO, and under the artistic direction of Vincent Roy, Passages Insolites 2017 walks off beaten trails to offer unusual and surprising encounters. Nine artists and collective of architects have reinvented and explored the idea of the passage as well as the concept of the unusual. A unique way to experience the city!


Les Malcommodes (Quebec City)

The Royal Battery, part of the 17th Century fortifications built to protect Quebec City from attack, originally faced the St. Lawrence River. But over the years the structure gradually ceded its position on the city’s shoreline, until the obsolete, abandoned landmark was paved over with layers of asphalt. A 1977 reversal of fortune saw the Battery completely dug up and rebuilt.

Impostor raises questions about the uses and abuses of historic landmarks with an illusory passage through the Royal Battery. By making two structures meet in a previously impenetrable site, the project evokes and interrogates the theatricality and sleight-of-hand inherent in the often factitious recreations of historic buildings.


When Paper Planes Stop Catching Wind

Atelier MAP (Montreal/Vancouver)

The work evokes the hard passage between childhood and adult life. The plane, symbol of lightness and dreams, experienced a difficult landing. The design of the aircraft (white color with black edges) is a reference to the world of comics, place of escape as the fantasy playgrounds of childhood.

Space Cube

Marie-Eve Martel (Blainville)

A spaceship has landed. Or is it a temple? A widely used symbol in the sacred imaginary, mysticism, and mathematics, the cube has long been a source of fascination and mystery. Revered in some cultures as a symbol of stability and the divine, the shape also stands as an emblem of the human-made order (vs. the natural world), and powerful tool for rational spatial organization.

With this playful exploration in iconography and symbolism, Space Cube offers visitors a glimpse of an imaginary world concealed behind translucent yet reflective walls. Inside, a symbiotic system is somehow at once organic and geometric. Peering through the four peepholes reveals a hybrid city, selectively reflecting the world outside, augmented by emanations from within.


Robert Hengeveld (Toronto)

A tree rises up through the granite paver stones of a sidewalk in Old Quebec. The sight of small bits of wild vegetation sprouting up between the cracks of the hard urban landscape is not unfamiliar. Left unchecked, weeds and vegetation proliferate. What makes this case different is that this particular weed is in fact a tree, standing four meters tall. It is odd enough to warrant a second glance. It is then that one realizes the tree is spinning.

The choreographed rotation periodically comes to rest, in a stationary pause that might be an attempt to mirror the behavior of its more entrenched kin. SSSpun delicately challenges familiar understanding of the world, leaving people to rectify the tension between perception and preconception.

Celestial Rubbish

Collectif Allard-Duchesneau (Montreal)

A desire to strip objects of their primary meanings and instead take them as raw materials for new and surprising forms resulted in a figurative and literal reimagining: the garbage container has not only ceased to contain anything, but its opaque interior is resplendent with mirrors. A plethora of small golden chains hang from the dumpsters’ perforated bottom, like cooked noodles stuck to the bottom of a pot. Those walking underneath the work will be gently brushed in the face by the chains, subverting our ideas of our surroundings. Thwarted expectations elicit contemplation, and this bizarre juxtaposition of ugliness and beauty inspires us to question our aesthetic prejudices and the meanings of the objects all around us in the urban environment.

10 on the Beaufort Scale

Carole Baillargeon (Deschambault)

The piece evokes the feeling of sailing under heavy winds with a series of mast-like cylinders, a ship-like shape, and rigging. The masts are a wind organ, set vibrating by river breezes. An open volume evokes a listing ship; a lateral incline a vessel buffeted by wind and surf. On the ground, a tangle of hemp and nylon rope stands in for the tumult of waves and the convergence of the materials and know-how of yesterday and today.

These three overlapping elements without a shared scale bring to light the confrontation of the elements and the sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly alignment of forces inherent in all maritime endeavours.

This installation was launched on July 19 and was created in partnership with RDV2017. It is also the site of performances by contemporary dancers (Danse K par K).

Outdoor Ball Games

Sculptosaurus (Quebec City/Montreal)

Combining two classic symbols of freedom and mobility, the tent-trailer and the dirigible balloon, Outdoor Ball Games is a large-scale sculpture of a truly one-of-a-kind motor home. The classic compact tent trailer, a potent symbol of escape, is truncated and loaded down with a massive zeppelin, a vehicle that brings to mind certain more tragic moments in human history. With a healthy dose of humor, the themes of travel and migration are tackled in this improbable assemblage that plays with notions of proportion, makes fun of our concept of progress, and flings us headlong into a fictional universe.



Migration Pathway #2

Giorgia Volpe (Quebec City)

Migration Pathway #2 reimagines the original Migration Pathway from Passages Insolites 2016. The piece ties together past and present in the notion of migration, a seminal influence shaping our society and evolving territory. Migration Pathways #2 shows the vulnerability and endurance inherent in human and animal migratory and nomadic lives. Woven canoes rise in the air, approaching the banks of the St. Lawrence in a surprising parade-like movement. The work pays tribute to Quebec folk traditions, the beliefs of early sailors, and First Nations traditional knowledge, and occupies a traditional site of meeting and dialogue for all these communities.


A collective of architects from Montpellier (France) will be paired with two artists from Quebec City. They will aim at creating, in a short lapse of time, an ephemeral installation artwork. The creators will have a week to exchange, design and install their work in a predetermined place. Like an event within another event, Blitz! will be carried out between September 8 and 30. Blitz! is a cultural and architectural exchange project supported by the Ministère  Relations internationales et Francophonie du Québec and the Consulat général de France à Québec, within the Commission permanente de coopération franco-québécoise. Participants are AtelierVecteur (Ugo Elzière Coline Giardi and Thomas Dalby – Montpellier), Karole Biron and José Luis Torres (Quebec). In 2018, the experience will be repeated and the duo of artists from Quebec will go to France as part of the Festival des Architectures Vives in Montpellier.

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caAbout EXMURO

Established in 2007, EXMURO has as mandate to design and disseminate pluridisciplinary artistic projects in the urban public space. For 10 years, the organization has worked on different artistic and architectural projects throughout the city. Among its achievements: Passages Insolites, Humanorium – L’étrange fête foraine and La Palissade – L’expo du siècle! For more information visit

Images: Stéphane Bourgeois

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