It is a film about one direction. A place. A soul too. A unique creative space that no longer exists. And in the work of all the ex-tenants of it.
Posted yesterday at 9:00 am
305 Bellechase, the first documentary feature film by Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer, is above all a pretext to talk about contemporary art and the little-known (little-known?) work of its artists. But current affairs oblige, and because the building has been sold, the artists have been evicted and the premises have been refurbished – a renovation still in progress at the time of writing these lines – it is also related, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to gentrification and the precariousness of creation. We’ll get back to it.
« J’ai voulu faire une sorte d’instantané d’un moment où ce lieu était encore plein de vie », résume le réalisateur, rencontré à deux coins de rues de là cette semaine. « Parce que c’est beau : c’est un espace en mouvance, un espace de recherche, d’exploration […]. A place where everything happens! »
where everything happened…
In theaters this Friday, winner (ex æquo) of the Pierre-et-Yolande-Perrault award, the film gives the microphone to a dozen artists (Marc Séguin, Sylvain Bouthillette, Jean-Benoît Pouliot, Christine Major, etc.), who agreed a few years ago to open the doors of this mythical address (former Catelli pasta factory, bought in 1948 by the Schiff family to make sewing workshops, converted into artists’ studios 20 years ago), located between Mile End and Little Italy, to reveal the back of your paintings. Her intimacy, somewhere, in all vulnerability.
Think: work pace, schedules, motivation. The bread and butter of creation, what. Not forgetting your favorite background music (from total silence to post-hardcore), or the art of finding the famous inspiration.
Explanation: Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer, armed with a camera on his shoulder and through long sequence shots, takes us behind the scenes of this lair of yesteryear, through the various (and diversified) workshops, without ever showing the creators, who only listen to each other, in voiceover. Because it is above all his works that are in the spotlight. And the walls, steeped in history (more than 400 workers worked here, as evidenced by the hundreds of needles found in the cracks in the ground!), which gave birth to them.
between the walls
To return to inspiration, it does not fall from the sky, we understand these two hours of quasi-contemplative immersive visit. Rather, it is the result of long hours, even weeks of work. Nicolas Grenier, not to mention, literally spends days mixing a color. If you have always wondered about the famous “artist ritual”, you will know everything. Demystification included.
It is creation at work. Creation does not occur by divine intervention!
Maxime-Claude L’Ecuyer, director
Because he lives in the neighborhood, is good friends with several artists, Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer has entered these famous walls. In particular, he interviewed Marc Séguin, the man behind the conversion of the flats. You have to hear him sell the project to the owner at the time (late 1990s). If the tenants are going to pay for their workshops? “It’s the only thing, the first thing they pay in their life”, a phrase that says a lot about the bond of attachment that artists have with their place of creation (“the only stability in my life”, “a bit of my house”, ” this is where I vote!”).
Many have been there from the beginning. Lulled by his words, the viewer almost forgets the anticipated outcome. Program. Because we know: 305 Bellechasse was sold in 2018 to developers, whose practices in terms of evictions and aggressive renovations regularly make headlines.
Suddenly, and almost without transition (Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer had almost finished his film when the sale closed!), images of empty rooms arrive on the screen. Get off the canvas, no more pots of paint or the slightest brush: the contrast is violent. “It went with the concept of the film: it magnified these spaces that he saw as so alive, suddenly dead…”
It is true that, since then, most of the artists have moved on. Marc Séguin inaugurated his Ateliers 3333 on Boulevard Crémazie. Sylvain Bouthillette and several former members of 305 Bellechasse met at Ateliers Casgrain. “It remains that it is real estate, and we will not hide it, artists do not have the highest salaries, concludes our director. It is the fragility of these spaces that my images convey. For his part, he only has one wish: “I want people to go see contemporary art. And that they are interested in artists…”
In cinemas in Montreal (Cinémathèque québécoise and Cinéma du Musée), Sherbrooke (La Maison du Cinéma) and Quebec City (Cinéma Cartier)
#Documentary #happened #Bellechasse