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A Measure of War (Je me souviens) 2010

articule, Montréal, Québec, October 16, 2010

A pivotal moment in 20th century Canadian history is the October Crisis of 1970. FLQ’s kidnappings of James Cross and Pierre Laporte were met by Pierre Trudeau’s invoking of the War Measures Act – across Canada, civil liberties were suspended while Canadian Forces patrolled Montréal streets. These events fueled the already-swelling Quebec sovereignty movement for the decades that followed. Forty years removed, how do we remember these events?

A Measure of War (Je me souviens) is a site-specific public performance, for which historical events and public speeches are ‘remixed’ – both culturally and linguistically, beckoning our collective amnesia into remembering things as they never were. How do we understand Trudeau’s speech on October 16, 1970, or the FLQ Manifesto, when read not only in English and French – the official languages of a bilingual Canada – but in a Third language (troisième espace)? With the dominant discourse of the “Two Solitudes” as historical backdrop, how do we respond to the presence of not yet another “solitude,” but rather a collective “Third” voice – one that articulates a necessarily more complex principle of inclusive multiculturalism that does not displace the originality of First Peoples? What are our responses to the dissonance produced by overlapping layers of conflicted histories?

On October 16, 2010, the public was invited to participate by riding their bicycles alongside Khang’s pedal-powered mini-tank to Montréal City Hall. While wearing military fatigues, Khang recited the notable public enunciations from forty years ago, spliced together in three languages. Using a paintball gun, a symbolic execution of Pierre Laporte was carried out with the help of willing participants from members of the public.

 
 

1:    production still
2-7: performance stills
 

Photos: Vincent Lafrance                  
Video:   Sylvie Laplante

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