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Focus on art to promote citizen engagement

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan19,2024

Focus on art to promote art citizen engagement

Researcher and artist Virginie Francoeur presents the exhibition “Zér0” at the Montreal Biosphere.

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Can the arts encourage citizens to adopt more eco-responsible behaviors? This is the bet made by two scientists, who asked ten artists from various disciplines to create works based on research data on zero waste.

The result of this approach, the collective exhibition Zér0, the arts at the heart of ecological transformation, is presented until April 7 at the Biosphere in Montreal.

A research project carried out in collaboration with Équiterre on solutions to reduce plastic packaging, mainly in the food sector, was the premise of this creative approach.

Polytechnique Montréal professors Virginie Francoeur and Sophie Bernard, who worked more than 6,000 hours on this file, decided to give a second life to their results.

I'm a researcher and I know that scientific articles are important in responding to the climate crisis, but I don't think we're going to sit around a table on a Saturday evening with friends, and then get excited by reading scientific articles.

A quote from Virginie Francoeur, researcher at Polytechnique Montréal and curator of the “Zér0” exhibition

LoadingIn the land of cans, life is hard and fraught

ELSE ON INFO : In the land of cans, life is hard and fraught

The professors approached artists who already had an ecological sensitivity in their work and gave them carte blanche to interpret the theme of zero waste according to their practice. The artistic installations were designed mainly from recycled or recovered materials.

The Ascètes studio team transformed plastic objects into a giant tree that sits in the middle of the exhibition room. The cartoonist Annie Groovie makes her famous character, the Cyclops Léon, aware of all the plastic that surrounds him and of the small gestures, such as buying in bulk, which can have a positive impact.

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The “Zér0” exhibition is presented at the Montreal Biosphere until April 7, 2024.

For Marilyn Perreault and Annie Ranger, from the Théâtre I.N.K., participation in this exhibition was an opportunity to reflect on certain gestures in our daily lives or on polluting consumption habits that could disappear if we migrated towards a zero waste world.

Their work, presented in the form of a cabinet of curiosities, exhibits everyday objects that pollute – aerosol hairspray, single-use fruit and vegetable packaging bags , gas pump – and the gestures associated with them, represented in mime to illustrate a futuristic vision where these gestures would have disappeared.

Are we capable as humans of questioning the actions we make every day? I think so. We say to ourselves: we are capable of change. We are capable of making certain gestures obsolete. We are capable of deconditioning ourselves, maintains Marilyn Perreault.

The professors' research laboratory was also reproduced at the exhibition site. Visitors can access the zero waste report which served as the basis for designing this exhibition and immerse themselves in the intellectual process of the researchers.

If Professor Virginie Francoeur does not hide her desire to see visitors reflect on their behavior and adopt more eco-responsible habits after their visit, she does not wish to be moralistic. Rather, it is the emotions that it attempts to arouse in the citizen.

We really wanted to give a message of hope through these different proposals, to encourage dialogue and reflection, explains the researcher, who is also a writer.

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Researcher Virginie Francoeur wanted to create an artistic exhibition based on scientific research on zero waste.

And, a sign that science is never good far from the artistic approach, the exhibition is also an opportunity to collect data. Visitors are invited to complete a questionnaire targeting the works that left their mark on them, the emotions they experienced and the ecological changes they would like to adopt. The participants will also be followed three and six months after their visit to the Biosphere.

This data will give rise to another part of research which will allow the researchers to measure the influence of art in citizen engagement in favor of the planet.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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