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Working the pragmatic aesthetic in four parts

Working the pragmatic aesthetic* in four parts is a residency project by Douglas Scholes with the 3e Impérial – Center d’essai en art actuel, Granby, Québec, Canada as part of The other side of Place (L’envers de l’endroit) infiltrating art residency program.  The project begins in August 2010 and continues to May 2011.  It is divided into four one-week periods, one period for each season.  The periods are grouped into two types of actions: Transitory and Fixed.

*The pragmatic aesthetic refers to the intrinsic and evolving appearance of things, objects, and structures found in our environments, appearances that are inherently dynamic due to the passage of time. The pragmatic aesthetic is evident in the temporal states of many elements of contemporary society. For example the appearance of a new building that is transformed through the accumulation of surface dirt, the freshly painted fence that dulls with exposure to the weather, weeds growing through the new asphalt, dust accumulating on a lampshade, dishes that need washing, empty lots that become overgrown by weeds and disposable objects all speak of an abandoned attention. I am fascinated by the appearance of an object that has both been created by abandoned attention and by the maintenance that is performed to reverse signs of neglect – the dichotomy between maintenance and deterioration – the inevitable, usual, predictable reaction of one to the other.
Two walks take place during the following two one-week periods:

Walk no. 1 – August 12 to 19, 2010 (summer)
—–Walk no. 1 – Day 1: Saturday, August 14, 2010
—–Walk no. 1 – Day 2: Sunday, August 15, 2010

Walk no. 2 – May 22 to 28, 2011 (spring)
—–Walk no. 2 – Day 1: Monday, May 23, 2011
—–Walk no. 2 – Day 2: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
—–Walk no. 2 – Day 3: Thursday, May 26, 2011
—–Walk no. 2 – Day 4: Friday, May 27, 2011

I walked route 112 (rue Principale & rue Denison East) inside the city limits of Granby, Québec, a total distance of 13.6 kms, during two one-week periods: summer 2010 and spring 2011. map

For the summer period, I started Walk no. 1 at the westerly city limits (chemin de la Grande-Ligne and route 112) and continued to the easterly city limits (just east of l’Estriade cycle path and route 112).  For Walk no. 2, the spring period, I will reverse the direction of the walk starting at the easterly city limits and continuing to the westerly limits.  Along the way, during both Walk no. 1 and Walk no. 2, I collect garbage and debris replacing them with cast beeswax replicas of garbage.  These replicas are of plastic water bottles, chip bags, disposable coffee cups, etc.  The natural beeswax degrades and deteriorates but not so quickly as to take away the opportunity for the public to find or see the objects.

The subtle transformation of the landscape through the act of cleaning is an attempt to make it better (subjective view), an act that is both futile (the transformed condition is temporary) and necessary (it will have to be repeated).
This section is divided into two parts consisting of two separate acts during the following periods:

Sweeping – October 20 to 26, 2010 (fall)
—–Sweeping – Day 1: Friday, October 22, 2010
—–Sweeping – Day 2: Monday, October 25, 2010
—–Sweeping – Day 3: Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shoveling – February 13 to 19, 2011 (winter)
—–Shoveling – Day 1: Monday, February 14, 2011
—–Shoveling – Day 2: Tuesday, February 15, 2011
—–Shoveling – Day 3: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
—–Shoveling – Day 4: Thursday, February 17, 2011
—–Epilogue (the effects of temperature)

For the fall period (20 – 26 Oct., 2010), I swept part of an abandoned property located on the north-west corner of Cowie Street and Robinson Street South in Granby, removing the accumulated debris such as gravel, leaves, weeds and garbage leaving the section clean(er) and more orderly.  During the winter period (13 – 19 Feb., 2011), I shoveled the snow from the same area on the same site I worked in October. map

In working the pragmatic aesthetic the site will be treated with brooms and shovels as a large two-dimensional surface that will have its intrinsic beauty revealed.

On the cleared site, from the activities of the fall period, I will install a temporary “monument” to commemorate the ephemeral results of sweeping and shoveling.  The monument will be made of garbage cast in beeswax, the forms of which will be taken from refuse found on site.
—–Installation no. 1 : October 20 – 26, 2010
—–Installation no. 2 : February 13 – 19, 2011
—–Installation no. 3 : May 22 – 28, 2011

Starting during the fall period in October 2010, and continuing for the subsequent two periods in February and May 2011, I went to work, in a manner of speaking, at the Granby Municipal Works Garage.  I began my day as the blue-collar workers assembled to receive their work orders and then at 8:00 am I punched-in and headed out to the site at the corners of the streets Cowie and Robinson South to start my designated seasonal task (having already received my work orders for the day).  At noon, I returned to the Garage and punched-out for lunch. I ate and chatted with the mechanics (most of the other municipal workers were out in the city and ate on site or, for some, went home for lunch) and would then punch-in at 1:00 pm and returned to the site and my tasks.  I was back in the Municipal Works Garage by 5:00 pm to punch-out, ending my workday.  This pattern was repeated for each of the days that I was ‘at work’ until the end of my work week and the end of that particular period of the project.

In addition to my activities of punching-in and punching-out and those of working on the sites in the city, I installed a series of drawings, videos and objects related to my actions in the cafeteria of the municipal garage.  For more please see Public Works.


One Comment

  1. A beautiful gesture… You bring out the poetry in the act of maintenance. Nice work !

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