Alexandre: The whole gallery is composed of bespoke elements. One of the challenges was to have retro-light casings. While such things for public spaces do exist, their aesthetics and functions are heavily related to publicity; therefore, a very big effort was put into creating unique casings. The space had to be resistant to any sort of vandalism (scratches, graffiti, etc.). The fact that we managed to hide practically all of the elements and preserve a minimalistic face is a big success.
Talking about the art itself, one of the advantages of showcasing photography is that we display reproductions that can be easily replaced, but there hasn’t been a necessity for that yet. In addition, everything is painted and in a case of graffiti, it could be hidden. However, to our big surprise, such things don’t happen. It seems that the project is very appreciated in the neighbourhood – some sort of mutual respect has formed from the very first days. In reality, the gallery is very peaceful. Visitors adopt an attitude similar to the one required in museum visits: they speak in a low voice and behave politely.
On the other hand, in the evening, the space and all of its colourful elements become a magnetic pole. Even if the majority of visitors remain calm and wise, we have seen some party animals as well. They climb the walls, try to sit on the frames, forget their things, etc. One thing is certain: this place doesn’t leave anyone indifferent. It’s also important to know that this project was developed in close collaboration with Montreal police. Approximately eight propositions were necessary in order to make sure the gallery is safe.
One of those factors was the permeability of the place: the police have to keep the gallery under surveillance without entering. It was precisely this obligation that complicated our initial wish to preserve the duality between interior and exterior. Another big challenge was to make this gallery happen while respecting modest budgets. As it was an unusual proposition, it was considered to be a trial project. While this also imposed some technical restrictions, the main idea has remained untouched. As we have succeeded in proving our concept, the future seems to be very promising.