Pièce de résistence

PIÈCE DE RÉSISTENCE : archive, banner/banderole, digital print/impression numérique

396 cm x 518 cm

digital print, sewn cotton canvas, grommets

2014

« Pièce de résistence » is a (re)mediation of visual artefacts taken from the Artéfacts d’un Printemps québécois Archive. The imagery for the collage was pilfered from the archive’s posters, banners, protest signs, videos, stencils, etc.  The scene is a retelling of protest during Québec’s 2012 student strike or “Printemps québécois”. It lasted six months and unseeted the province’s premier during the election that followed. The banner honours the protesters while denigrating the state repression that became commonplace during the protests. The collage’s self-representation and recognition is key to building a movement’s own oppositional cultural heritage.

The banner was made as one of the interior walls within the Printemps CUBEcois installation. It is a digital collage of images printed on four strips of 10 oz canvas. Each vertical strips was printed on 10-ounce canvas.

The « Ne rien lâcher » collage is an expression of archival activation. To include as many archival elements as possible, three slideshows of banners, protest signs and videos were projected into the protest scene. On the lower left are a group of people holding a protest banner which is blank and upon which a slideshow of banners from the Artéfacts Archive are screened. Near the bottom centre is an activist carrying a blank protest sign, which changes every five seconds with a newly projected protest sign. On the lowernright side of the banner is an individual figure looking into a blank computer screen which comes to life with archived videos and their with sound on.  Viewers were drawn into the cube by the audio that seeped through the forty protest banners that gave the cube voice with their slogans and indignation. The inside of the cube felt like a safe space to linger and witness one’s oppositional cultural heritage.

The ritualistic behaviour of protest performance binds performers together: chanting slogans, confronting police, carrying protest signs, locking arms to hold a position, etc. and wearing ritualistic attire: black clothing, the red square, exuberant costumes, face paint, etc. Stuart Hall writes, in relation to fan performance at football matches, that “banners and slogans, with faces and bodies painted in certain colours or inscribed with certain symbols, can also be thought of as like a ‘language’ — in so far as it is a symbolic practice which gives meaning or expression to the idea of belonging”. The symbols chosen to construct the protest scene collage come from artefacts used during the Printemps québécois are themselves a shared oppositional language with meaning to the protest movement. Its visual vocabulary is easily read by anyone who “belong” to the protest movement during the 2012 strike.