Everything in the Islands speaks of mobility, transformation, impermanence. The “mainland” is no monolithic, unchanging block. Everywhere one sees the work of erosion, as the coast is continually reshaped. Year after year, gullies and channels move; dunes are redrawn; some areas crumble while in others sand piles up and aggregates. On a greater time scale, salt pillars advance in measured steps toward the surface, presaging new mounds, new islands. Added to these silent movements are those of the Gulf’s shifts in migration, tourism and economics—those, for example, of whales and seals, of Acadians, English, Irish, even the Mi’kmaq, who landed on the archipelago for cod and ochre. Even today, the Islands get their tempo from the fishing boat routes, and are swept by the comings and goings of tourists and seasonal residents.
On the occasion of Songlines, ten artists from the Maritimes and one from La Manche will be invited to tune in to the Magdalen Islands’ inherent, constitutive mobility. Keeping lookout for three weeks, the participants will develop trajectory-based works throughout the territory. Their rambling undertakings will take place with particular regard to the tracks of a cetacean, a buried legend, or maritime know-how, or along the many other paths and trails that need to be walked to be realized. Each of these tracks will suggest a rhythm, a way of moving, and will inevitably lead to openings in the landscape to which we would not otherwise have access.
Songlines recalls a book of the same title by English author and traveller Bruce Chatwin. In this book, the author investigates how, through “singing the land,” Australian Aboriginal peoples could find their bearings on the continent, while keeping their great founding myths alive on the Earth’s surface. Thus, the territory would be considered as a musical score to decode, to perform.
From this distant reference, so foreign to our maritime context, we can recover or update our knowledge of the territory—topological, historical, mythological—as we roam through it. From June 5 to 25, 2016, the Magdalen Islands will thus be considered as a network of lines, dormant tracks, which artists will uncover and make to vibrate.
Caroline Loncol Daigneault is an author, researcher and curator. Using writing as a primary light, she seeks to track down penumbral art practices, as well as linkages between art and the environment. Her curatorial projects include the Biennale de sculpture in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli on the theme of hospitality (2012); ELLE MARCHE Blue Mountain (2012), an exhibition-laboratory with the artist Vida Simon developed on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, and presented at OBORO (Montreal); and Laboratoire parcellaire, a writer’s residency at OBORO that resulted in a cultural mediation program and an eponymous book, which she edited for Éditions La Peuplade and OBORO.