Points de vue
In November 2013 the City of Montreal announced a call for proposals to repurpose the Wellington tower into a venue for cultural and community activities. One of Montreal’s iconic post-industrial buildings, the Wellington tower has been abandoned for over a decade and is presently a ruin. The tower stands at the crossroads between four vastly different neighbourhoods: Vieux-Montréal, Ville Marie, Petite-Bourgogne, and Pointe St-Charles. All four districts have seen rapid gentrification and transformation of their built environments, primarily through increased residential space. New residents live side by side with longstanding residents, and these communities often have different perspectives on the industrial past of the region.
Points de vue is a socially-engaged, activist, and community-based arts platform. We emerged in response to both the call for proposals, and what we perceived to be the lack of public consultation about the Wellington tower’s future. In association with the Darling Foundry’s Place Publique series, the Points de vue curatoiral team organized four urban laboratories. Through these labs we staged public dialogues that encompassed multiple perspectives about the area’s cultural landscapes. How, we asked, is the Wellington tower a witness to the transformation from industrial to post-industrial Montreal?
The four thematic in-situ urban labs can be understood as a form of transfer, each in its own way making a public space for developing community collaborations, and what Petra Kuppers has identified as “dialogues of being in space” (2004). Points de vue served as witness, a “new entrance” or view of the site, as well as an archiving mechanism for mapping public exchanges, reflections, and debates about the Wellington tower’s future, its historical significance, and the meaning of repurposing the building into a place for public, cultural and community activities. The purpose of these urban labs were to identify which cultural and social landscapes need to be foregrounded in order for the site’s transformation to be meaningful to the communities it is intended to serve. Points de vue was a collaborative, creative undertaking on behalf of the past, present, and future communities for whom the Wellington tower matters.
Our urban labs engaged participants in a series of journeys. Through an urban treasure hunt we discovered Griffintown through the eyes of children. Using a collective symbol representing spatial justice we explored issues of public space and accessibility. Forensic techniques helped us to conduct archaeological investigations into the material culture of urban change. Working with local experts we revealed the astonishing resilience and diversity of urban flora.
Documentation of the four urban labs was shared via a public exhibition at the Darling Foundry/Quartier Éphémère in September 2014.
To hear an interview with Shauna Janssen and Thomas Strickland on CKUT, about the project, visit:
To learn about the partnering artist groups visit: