Working the pragmatic aesthetic in four parts

A residency project with
3e impérial – Center d’essai en art actuel
Granby, Quebec, Canada
August 2010 to May 2011
Click paesthetic to visit the project blog
Walk no.1 (summer)
Sweeping (fall)
Shovelling (winter)
Walk no.2 (spring)
Granby Public Works Municipal Garage

The project is divided into four one-week periods, one period for each season.
The periods are grouped into two types of actions: Transitory and Fixed.
*The pragmatic aesthetic refers to the intrinsic and evolving appearance of things, objects, and structures found in our environments, appearances that are inherently dynamic due to the passage of time. The pragmatic aesthetic is evident in the temporal states of many elements of contemporary society. For example the appearance of a new building that is transformed through the accumulation of surface dirt, the freshly painted fence that dulls with exposure to the weather, weeds growing through the new asphalt, dust accumulating on a lampshade, dishes that need washing, empty lots that become overgrown by weeds and disposable objects all speak of an abandoned attention. I am fascinated by the appearance of an object that has both been created by abandoned attention and by the maintenance that is performed to reverse signs of neglect – the dichotomy between maintenance and deterioration – the inevitable, usual, predictable reaction of one to the other.

Two one-week walks will take place during the following periods:
Walk no. 1 – August 12 to 19, 2010 (summer) see map
Walk no. 2 – May 22 to 28, 2011 (spring)

Walking route 112 (rue Principale & rue Denison East) inside the city limits of Granby, Québec, a total distance of 13.6 kms, during two one-week periods: summer 2010 and spring 2011.

For the summer period, Walk no. 1 began at the westerly city limits (chemin de la Grande-Ligne and route 112) and continued to the easterly city limits (just east of l’Estriade cycle path and route 112). For Walk no. 2 (spring) the walk started at the easterly city limits and continued to the westerly limits. During both walks, rubbish was collected and replaced by cast beeswax replicas of garbage – replicas of plastic water bottles, chip bags, disposable coffee cups, etc.

The subtle transformation of the landscape through the act of cleaning was an attempt to make it better (subjective view), an act that is both futile (the transformed condition is temporary) and necessary (it will have to be repeated) to keep it clean.

This section will be divided in two parts consisting of two separate acts during the following periods:
Sweeping – October 20 to 26, 2010 (fall)
Shovelling – February 13 to 19, 2011 (winter)

For the fall period (20 – 26 Oct., 2010), the abandoned property on the north-west corner of Cowie Street and Robinson Street South in Granby was swept, removing the accumulated debris such as gravel, leaves, weeds and garbage leaving the section clean(er) and more orderly. During the winter period (13 – 19 Feb., 2011), the snow was shovelled from the same area on the same site I worked in October. See map

In working the pragmatic aesthetic the site will be treated with brooms and shovels as a large two-dimensional surface that will have its intrinsic beauty revealed.

Starting during the fall period in October 2010, and continuing for the subsequent two periods in February and May 2011, I went to work with the Granby Public Works at the Municipal Garage. The day began as the workers assembled to receive their work orders. At 8:00 am I punched-in and headed out to the site at the corners of the streets Cowie and Robinson South to start my designated seasonal task. At noon, I returned to the Garage and punched-out for lunch. I ate and chatted with the mechanics and would then punch-in at 1:00 pm and returned to the site and my tasks. I was back in the Municipal Works Garage by 5:00 pm to punch-out, ending my workday. This pattern was repeated for each of the days that I was at work until the end of my work week and the end of that particular period of the project.

In addition to my activities of punching-in and punching-out and those of working on the sites in the city, I installed a series of drawings, videos and objects related to my actions in the cafeteria of the municipal garage.