PART II OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT COMMUNITY AND PUBLIC ART
Seen above, Martin Perron reflecting on Don Maynard’s Archive
Martin Perron’s passion for the arts has expanded beyond the framework of galleries and museums to the streets of Canada. Martin loves museums for the work they do in protecting and promoting art, but public art calls to him in a different way.
With a deep desire to spread love and to help his fellow man, Martin sees public art as a way to include everyone in a dialogue. “Public art is unconditional; it gives without condition,” he explains. In exploring public art, Martin wanted to do more to show his support. Recently, with the help of artistic director Stéphane Thomas Durocher and production assistant Isabelle-Anne Tassé, he produced a dFilm entitled Musing on Ottawa’s Public Art.
What is a dFilm? It’s a softer documentary (small d) that allows for more artistry (capital F), giving Martin the opportunity to be more mindful of his subject. He explained that a documentary format works symbiotically with public art because we are more receptive to a message when it is presented visually. “Documentaries are less exclusive than art-films, in the same way that public art is accessible,” said Martin. A dFilm is about information and inclusion.
Musing on Ottawa’s Public Art visits sites in Ottawa which feature community art readily available for anyone to experience. In the film, Martin takes time to interview the artists about their work and present the personal and public impact of the art. The dFilm is a compelling conversation, inviting the audience to have their own thoughts and interpretations. Throughout, Martin approaches and touches the art, interacting with it in a way that begs the viewer to go find these pieces and do the same.
Martin believes that Ottawa’s public art collection is among the top 5% in Canada, rivalling even Vancouver and Calgary. “This is thanks to the unique work by mindful artists and the commendable taste of Ottawa’s Public Art Program,” he said. Five of the six artists that Martin interviewed in his film were approved or commissioned by the Public Art Program to complete works for the City’s collection. The sixth artist was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada to complete an installation during the Sakahàn exhibition in 2013. The film explores the following art works:
An overarching theme of the film is how time unifies humanity. Each artist speaks of time and timelessness. It’s fascinating to hear each of them talk of the past which inspired them and the future which fueled them. Cheryl Pagurek speaks of the progression of transportation and technology and juxtaposes it with the past to highlight what remains unchanged. Nicholas Galanin’s petroglyph is a message created today for the future, but only time can tell what that message will be. During his interview, Don Maynard expresses his belief that his art will last over 10,000 years because of the durable materials he used, but Archive also speaks to preserving the past.
The dFilm is meant to be communal, to demonstrate the connections that are made between us through art. Not unlike Karen Goetzinger’s Significant Connections , Martin’s production carefully sews together pieces of our public art collection to create something seemingly bigger. His message, beyond the continuation and promotion of public art, is the reason for supporting these programs: they begin a dialogue.
Martin firmly believes that art exists within all of us and that any one impression of art, is an expression of one’s inner-self. To simplify, anything you may think or feel in reaction to a piece of art already exists within you; the art serves only as a mirror. Art creates a cycle of impression and expression, facilitating a dialogue between oneself and inner-self, between art and audience, or between artist and audience. Art creates connections between us; for Martin all art is about humanity and community, but public art is inherently much more so.
My conversation with Martin lasted nearly three full hours and could have easily continued on for a few more. His production is only 24 minutes long, but it inspires more thought and mindful contemplation than those moments allow. The stories shared by Martin and those he interviewed served as metaphors for my own life experiences and my experiences as a writer. In the end, the film is a way to inspire the appreciation of our public art which promotes a sense of community across our city.
Musing on Ottawa’s Public Art was produced by Martin Perron’s company, Elementa. It will be part of the Montreal International Documentary Festival (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal – RIDM) in November 2014. More information on the film and Martin’s future projects is available on the Elementa website.
Lindsay P. Mann is a creative writer and literature enthusiast. Since 2007 she has worked as a freelance writer for heritage and arts organizations, as well as for science and academic institutions. With a lifelong passion for art and self-expression by any means, Lindsay is delighted to collaborate on any related project. She has been working with the AOE Arts Council since 2011. Lindsay has eclectic interests. This gives her an edge in making connections between one discipline and another, which she cleverly weaves into her writing. Her contributions to Accolade include monthly series on Ottawa’s art scene and in-depth articles about artistic practices and events.