© Riaz Mehmood

Housing a Home: Borrowed Views

Riaz Mehmood

July 23 - 30, 2011

July 23 – 30, 2011

In association with the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels), Le Corridor culturel de Griffintown and Roland Hakim & Associates, the creative platform Urban Occupation Urbaines presents Housing a Home: Borrowed Views.

Housing a Home: Borrowed Views was conceived by artist Riaz Mehmood in collaboration with Montreal artists Anne Bertrand, Jenna Dawn, Danielle Lewis, Larissa Diakiw and Didier Defolie-Noulin.

An in situ intervention within one of Montreal’s many contested spaces, Griffintown, Housing a Home: Borrowed Views occupies a small parcel of privately owned green space located in between the Bonaventure Expressway and the Canadian National Railway viaduct. This site is also bounded by and bordering Municipal plans to create a prestigious gateway into the city. 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. Since the 1970s Griffintown has become an urban site of pastness and abandon. Griffintown, however, is not a place of stasis. Rather, it is marked with changes that keep its past alive and also with changes that have eradicated the past. The recent past in Griffintown has seen deep and enduring tensions between the interests, limits, and promises of urban renewal and heritage preservation. Undoubtedly, the process of gentrification in Griffintown has begun. The city’s planning strategies have been predominantly based on revitalizing the neighbourhood through commercial and residential condominium projects. Despite these developments, Griffintown’s future remains relatively uncertain.

Housing a Home: Borrowed Views is a creative response to the processes of urban renewal and place making that are occurring within extraordinary urban conditions. Through their collective occupation of the site, the artist-collaborators observe and reflect upon the poetic and spatial relationship between a city’s residents and its public/ private spaces, notions of home and community. Borrowed Views is conceived of here, on this site, as an occupation or spatial appropriation for re-imagining an open, fictive and playful urban space. It is in this sense that the site functions as a mise en scene for both the nonconforming uses of space and as a site for participants and the public to rehearse there experiences, desires and expectations for the site’s future.

Urban Occupation Urbaines is a creative platform and mobile organization staging artistic projects that critically and creatively explore the spatial dimensions of historic sites and architecture as they relate to urban sites in transition. Urban Occupations Urbaines’ current project site is Montreal’s historic industrial district – Griffintown. The in situ series is curated by Shauna Janssen.

Riaz Mehmood is a multidisciplinary artist originally from Pakistan. After completing a degree in Civil Engineering Peshwar, Riaz went on to complete a diploma in the Integrated Media program at the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2005. His artistic oeuvre encompasses a range of practices including performance, video, installation and photography. These works have explored issues related to identity, history and the media. He is currently completing the MFA program at the University of Windsor.

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