In 2010, I initiated Urban Occupations Urbaines (UOU), a mobile curatorial platform conceived to facilitate critical and creative responses to unresolved architectural and indeterminate urban conditions. Projects are conceived as temporary occupations and spatial appropriations for re-imagining public, culturally diverse, and inclusive urban spaces. UOU works as a platform for artistic, public, and community driven projects that have the potential to play a key role in the re/conceptualization of public space, the meaning of place, and for mobilizing community. The goals of UOU are to provoke a deeper inquiry into the spatial resonance and cultural politics of postindustrial urban spaces, their ecologies, and their futures. In its inaugural year, and as part of my doctoral research project, I used UOU to focus on Griffintown, one of Montreal’s historic working-class and formerly industrial district. Griffintown holds an especially privileged place in Montreal’s history – once the crucible of Montreal’s urban development and resonant within Canada’s pre/industrial history. By the 1970s, Griffintown became an urban site of municipal neglect and abandon. The recent past in Griffintown, however, has seen deep and enduring tensions between the interests of urban renewal and heritage preservation. Until 2007, Griffintown was an interstitial space within Montreal that allowed the patina of local working-class history to be visible.
Between September 2010 and 2011, approximately forty artists created site-specific and responsive works in twelve different locations throughout Griffintown. To view these works please visit the website: Urban Occupations Urbaines.