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A canary in the mineMagali Baribeau-Marchand’s statement of intent

During this period of research and resourcing that forms my journey at the BPS22, I am trying to define my own vision of an ecology of interest. This involves me taking the time for poetic contemplation of my immediate surroundings by dwelling on the infra-ordinary unfolding there. Consequently, observing the subtle movements of my daily life in Charleroi, I became interested in the lives of the birds who share our space.

I have filmed videos of the birds in flight while on my walks through the city. These birds are so commonplace that it seems as though we sometimes forget they exist. Trying to draw a parallel between the oscillating video image of the birds in flight and the bird’s quivering movements, I decided to adopt a canary so I could learn more about its way of being in the world: through its song, its body language and by attending to its needs.

The metaphor of the canary in the mine guides my artistic exploration and my conceptual research. In the days when the coal mines were being fully exploited, incidentally highly symbolic of the Hainaut region, the miners used to take a canary in a cage underground with them as a warning of any impending catastrophe. Canaries are highly sensitive to toxic gases so, like a seer, their agitation would forewarn of any coming firedamp explosion by sounding the alarm. This agitation as a harbinger became a crucial warning to avoid the worst.

Making the bird’s sensitivity the subject of my work, I am offering to share a presence experience with the public, that of temporarily cohabiting with my canary in a temporary space of artistic intervention at 14 Passage de la Bourse. For a week, I shall invite passers-by to come and confide in my canary, one-to-one, to experience a moment conversing with him without any corresponding obligation.

During my stint of artistic intervention, I shall continue my forays into video exploration inspired by amateur films and film diary by deploying spontaneous and ephemeral artistic actions around the printed word and text.

Guided especially by encounter and experimentation, this accelerated residence within the residence will enable me to develop content for an artist’s book, in addition to various videos and installation components. In this way, I’ll draw closer to the feelings of the bird, who must also master a new environment and construct his temporary new life by adapting to the sometimes fruitful, sometimes confrontational encounters with the other.