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Fonderie Darling celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a unique cultural institution

Fonderie Darling celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a unique cultural institution

Fonderie Darling celebrates its 20th Anniversary as a unique cultural institution 5

Fonderie Darling’s 20th anniversary!

Fonderie Darling is a unique experiment in what an art gallery can be. To celebrate its 20th anniversary they invite you to a new exhibition that showcases the extraordinary history of this building and cultural institution.

Located inside a massive industrial building that used to be a metal foundry, it presents contemporary art exhibitions and provides ateliers, workshops & studios to local artists.

While also hosting international residencies for artists from all around the world who come live in the Foundry while creating new exhibitions. Thus bringing the local and international art scenes together.

They are celebrating this milestone with a new exhibit called TU M’ ENVELOPPES ET JE TE CONTIENS that will run from September 22nd until December 11th. Ten artists were invited to create original works celebrating the particularities of the Fonderie Darling, its architecture, the history of its artistic vocation and its transformation from an industrial wasteland into a visual arts center.

This anniversary exhibition revisits the archives of hundreds of events that have taken place over the past twenty years and examines the particular nature of the space.

There will be speeches and a question and answer session with curator Milly-Alexandra Dery and with the  founder and artistic director Caroline Andrieux. Caroline has a doctorate in Art History from the Sorbonne University (Paris) and UQAM. She has been instrumental in setting up many other alternative art centers, such as Hôpital Éphémère and Usine Éphémère in Paris. In recognition of her active commitment to contemporary art the French government awarded her the rank of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. She is currently working on a cross-residency project between Germany and Canada in the guise of an exchange between Berlin’s Flutgraben Center and Montreal’s Darling Foundry.

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La Fonderie Darling was founded by the not-for-profit art organization Quartier Éphémère. They have a mandate of supporting the creation, production, and dissemination of contemporary art. A cornerstone of their philosophy is the transformation of neglected neighborhoods, to revitalize peripheral urban zones through art. As such they saved this unique building from demolition. With the city’s assistance, it was designated a heritage building in 2001.

With the financial support from the provincial & federal governments and from private partners, Quartier Éphémère raised $4 million to revitalize and transform it into a thriving art space with two galleries, workshops, studios, a restaurant and living quarters for international artists.

The founders of Quartier Éphémère began their activities in France as part of Usines Éphémères and the Fondation pour le Développement des Artistes de la Relève. I had the pleasure of visiting their art gallery & concert space in Paris and it had a fantastic vibe with a wild creative spirit. In Montreal I’ve collaborated on many projects at the Fonderie over the years. So in harmony with the theme of the new installation that celebrates their 20th anniversary I will share some anecdotes.

My introduction to the team was in the early 2000’s when I was booked to DJ at a party there for Jour De La Terre. Which led to DJ’ing at the vernissage of Ombre De Ville by ecological landscape artist Jean Paul Ganem. He uses plants to create his art, whether it be on many acres of a rural landscape, or in a favela in Brazil where he transforms garbage dumps into a living art installation.

He enlists a team to help clean the area of trash, they then till the soil so it can be used for agriculture. He installs methane captors that provide free electricity to the residents of the favela and plants flowers into an artistic design that beautifies the area. His installations change colors with the seasons as the plants adapt to the weather.

For Ombre de Ville he created an installation of plants and vegetation with a built-in hydration system that covered the exterior wall of the Foundry. The exhibit serves a dual purpose of beautifying an urban space while the plants provide cleaner air while reducing the summer heat. The ultimate goal would be to install these vegetation walls on hundreds of buildings in many cities around the world and thus help fight climate change.

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Ombre de Ville by Jean Paul Ganem

My craziest memory was helping to install Filipino artist Lani Maetro‘s exhibit L’OUBLI DE L’AIR where we spread 10 tons of black sand throughout the gallery! Then we placed these large metal bowls inside the sand and filled them with water. It was very labor intensive to haul the sand into the gallery and spread it around evenly. But the hardest part was erasing our footsteps to make the sand pristine as if no human had been present, as if this landscape was naturally formed. It took us hours to accomplish that aspect of the task.

The artist explained the concept of the installation as follows :

“She spoke to me of sand. Black sand, there, before us, on the ground. She spoke of water. Of small cavities dug into the sand and filled with pockets of water. She told me that the sky seen from the windows perched high in the lofty spaces of the Foundry would reflect in the pools. She spoke of a garden, while reminding me that water would tend to evaporate, that the little sand pools would have to be topped up—watering the garden, as it were.

The sky, out there, and the sky here, in the water. Here within and there without. Water in the sand and water in the air. The silent air and the musical air. The sand here, now, in the exhibition space, and the sand then, when the sand technique was being used to mold the metal. Mold. Shell. Hollow. Fire. Heat. Noise. Memories, just memories. Deaths, too. Suffering. Grueling work. Art, today, has taken its place. The Darling Foundry is also that.

Her work should be seen as we see the horizon, where the infinite sky and sea appear to touch, though we know it is impossible.”

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L’Oubli de L’Air by Lani Maetro

For an art installation by South Korean artist Eva Jung I contributed sound design and composed a remix of a Hans Zimmer song. Her work examines the ideals of capitalist cities. By using barter, she engages directly with participants in intimate encounters that breaks down the barrier between artist and spectator.

She exchanges objects and immaterial things with the public like anecdotes, songs, strawberries or hugs. For the installation she gave raffle tickets to the spectators where the winner would obtain the prize of a golden suitcase and its mysterious contents. Which culminated in the suitcase being slowly lowered on a chain from the incredibly high ceilings of the Foundry while my electro remix of the operatic Hans Zimmer song “Spider Pig” from The Simpsons movie played. It was quite a surreal concept, a very unusual juxtaposition of elements.

Another amazing feature of the Foundry is their high end gastronomic restaurant Le Serpent, which is the brain child of Culinary entrepreneurs Hubert Marsolais and Claude Pelletier who are the founders of the chic restaurants Club Chasse et Pêche and Le Filet.

The resto offers a contemporary menu with Italian flavor and a unique wine list. The decor is striking and was designed by architect Annie Lebel of atelier in situ in collaboration with Hubert Marsolais. The industrial space with a ceiling height of over 5.5 meters is made warm and cozy by its large windows, contemporary furnishings and of course, the art hanging on the walls.

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Le Serpent

I urge you to check out this unique art institution that is off the beaten path in a hidden pocket between Old Montreal & Griffintown. There are events and new art installations all year round.

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