Architecture and poetry


From May 18 to October 31, 2010, in the foyer of Montreal’s Grande Bibliothèque, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) will be hosting the exhibition “Architecture en vers,” which consists of five architectural installations inspired by poetry. These were created by groups of architects and well-known and emerging glass artists. The exhibition is presented as a part of the programme “Montréal, City of Glass 2010,” under the direction of the Board of Montréal Museum Directors.

Last fall, BAnQ asked five designers to take part in this exhibition. Their proposals were expected to describe the creative use of glass, of materials that were both recycled and recyclable, while integrating the verses of a contemporary Quebec poet whose work brings to mind concepts of architectural and literary creativity. Guy Berthiaume, BAnQ Chair and CEO, emphasized that this exhibition would allow the public to discover and rediscover authors and their works and, at the same time, create novel parallels between green architecture and poetry.


The five teams were Inspired by the works of several Quebec poets and novelists: Hélène Dorion, Leonard Cohen, Dany Laferrière, Gilles Vigneault, Gaston Miron, Pierre Nepveu, Jacques Brault, Claude Beausoleil, Stéphane D’Amours, Paul Chamberland, Fulvio Caccia, Michel Beaulieu, Nicole Brossard, France Théoret, Hélène Monette and Danny Plour. Each team displayed the full force of its talent and sensitivity in creating unique works that transcend the everyday and usual architectural practice.


The collectives


In collaboration with the Teknograv glass workshop, Atelier Pierre Thibault presents La forêt, an installation that takes a sensitive and poetic approach to our environment and its exploitation. Here, wood is presented as an element in architectural construction, while glass is used as a support to capture the light and reconstruct the words. The verses chosen are those of the author Hélène Dorion, from the collection D’argile et de souffle, published by Éditions Typo in 2002.

Suzanne Bergeron, architect, M.Sc. Urban Design (Amiot Bergeron, architects) reveals her deepest thoughts in a work of glass and shadows that is moving in its simplicity. Rencontre au confluent is a book of glass that is open to the world and creativity – architectural and literary. Here, the designer is not inspired by the poet, but rather, pays homage to him. The viewer is invited to find a parallel with Dany Laferrière’s novel, L’énigme du retour (prix Médicis 2009), published by Éditions du Boréal.

The team of Éric Pelletier, architects has designed a work that is masculine, strong, dark and subtly sensual, a reflection of the poet who inspired it. “A Thousand Kisses Deep / Dans les profondeurs de mille baisers.” by Leonard Cohen, evokes reflections on man and his poetry, but especially on the depth and mystery of rich artistic production. The installation consists of a gigantic glass prism with a rectangular base, which is split in the middle to disclose a silky texture that longs to be touched.


The team of Menkès Shooner Dagenais LeTourneux, architects is concerned by the question of urban density. The city, when it shows true density, is a viable alternative to urban sprawl and can be perceived from the viewpoint of sustainable development. Produced by assembling several hundred glass jars, the installation Vers tissés serrés sends visitors on a poetic Montreal voyage (Gaston Miron, Pierre Nepveu, Jacques Brault, Claude Beausoleil, Hélène Monette, Stéphane D’Amours, Paul Chamberland, Fulvio Caccia, Michel Beaulieu, Nicole Brossard, France Théoret and Danny Plourde) where each of the elements is distinguised by the poetry it holds inside.


The collective C-M-R, which brings together a multidisciplinary artist (Forent Cousineau), a graduate architect (Alejandro Montero Tergos ecological architecture and building) and a photographer (Cindy Diane Rheault, images ECOterre), was inspired by Grand cerf-volant (Éditions le vent qui vire, 1982) by Gilles Vigneault to design a sculpture that evokes childhood, the earth, and hopes for a better world. Murmures dans la main du temps is an installation whose spiral shape, labyrinthine structure and woven raw material recall a sense of movement and invite the viewer to stroll along to the rhythm of the words of the song by the poet from Natashquan.