ABOUT

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Photo taken by Elnaz Eslami

Introduction

Narrative Debris is an evolving project with its roots in the accumulation of research-creation I (Tricia Enns) conducted for my graduate studies in Design at Concordia University. As a designer/artist I am curious about what we can learn about a space through engaging with its materiality, specifically the stuff that is overlooked and/or left behind.

 

This work currently revolves around the Quartier des Spectacles neighbourhood in Montreal. A neighbourhood close to the St. Laurence River and thus the arrival point to the land and later the city for many groups of people such as: Iroquoians, French explorers, Chinese, Jewish and Portuguese immigrants to name a few1. The area continues, to this day, to be a tapestry of stories, but that plurality has been threatened by recent development. How do we share, propagate, and celebrate the many stories held within such a small area?

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Photo taken by Tricia Enns

 
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Photo taken by Tricia Enns

Site Visits

As a newcomer to Montreal myself, I have the privilege of fresh eyes and no pre-formed memories to skew my experience. And thus my research-creation began with me visiting the site multiple times a week just to observe the material and human nature of the area during the summer of 2020. During these site visits I created sketches and captured audio and photographic documentation all of which would eventually contribute to a mapping process that lead to the current map you can find on this site.

Audio Walks

My intension was always for this project, this research-creation, to expand beyond my own personal experience. The experiences of others needed to be incorporate into the work and inform its direction. As such, to collect the memories, stories and experiences shared by others I created an audio walk during the fall of 2020. The audio walk acted, and continues to act (you can listen to it on Soundcloud here) as a tool to shift  “routine perspective” to see/hear/smell/feel what lies on the edges: whether that be dusty windows, candy wrappers, or cracks in the pavement. Edge dwellers hold stories that seldom get to be told. 

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Photo taken and map drawn by Tricia Enns

 
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Photo taken by Tricia Enns

Paper Making

Playing with those edge dwellers, or “debris”, in October 2020, I began  collecting materials from the street corners and sidewalks to create paper with in my kitchen.

So far, this paper making process has been an embodied exploratory act (to learn more about the process check out the “paper making” page) which has resulted in a new method of deep mapping and sharing stories that reach beyond the constraints of language. 

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Photo taken by Tricia Enns

 
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Illustrated by Tricia Enns

Participant Kits

Looping back to participatory methods, within this research project, I am now exploring how the embodied practice of paper making can be dispersed amongst participants hands using kits sent to participants in the mail. 

 

Still to Come

In the future I hope to engage with participants, stake holders of the neighbourhood, and the material debris all at once with a “roving paper making installation”. But for now, with Covid-19 in mind, the kits will have to do! Individuals can sign-up for these kits directly on this website (just head to “participate”). It is an exciting experiment, as more people participate the project evolves, shifts, and pivots.

The goal of the project is to explore how paper making, walking, and collection can be used all together to explore the narratives held within the Quartier des Spectacles neighbourhood and eventually beyond.

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Image created by Tricia Enns with images of participant's feet

 

Gratitude and Thank You's

I want to express my immense gratitude for the contribution, support and guidance from many individuals; thank you to my supervisor Alice Jarry for her constant support and encouragement, to Rhona Kenneally and M. Wright for providing feedback and comprising my committee, thank you to the many participants, and to Clément Guénard and Floriane for offering your translation expertise.

1 "History of Montreal". Last updated March 2, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Montreal