OUT OF MIESInterview

An interview with Lynda Gaudreau

09 May 2014
Montréal, Canada

 

Last term, the AA Gallery was transformed to host an installation of three films by Canadian choreographer Lynda Gaudreau. Titled Out of Mies, the exhibition was comprised of three short films, each responding to a building designed by modernist master Mies van der Rohe in Montreal during the 1960’s: Nuns’ Island apartment building (1962), Westmount Square (1967) and the Nuns’ Island filling station (1969). By placing dancers within these three buildings, which where developed during a time of major social upheaval, they play out various themes present in the modernist architecture: restraint, freedom, communication and silence. In the interview below, we speak to Gaudreau to learn more about how she worked between choreography, performance, film, installation and architecture to construct this film series.

 

Why did you decide to choreograph these filmed performances within 3 buildings by Mies van der Rohe in Canada?

 

The first motivation came from the actual work of Mies van der Rohe. In the 60s, he realised three sites in Montreal but they are not very well known, so the project was in my head for a long time. There was no existing choreography that could be integrated into the space, I never to do this. While there are plenty of good dance films, my perspective is, of course, based in choreography, and Out of Mies is, above all, dictated by the space itself. Each site has its own presence and quality, and we developed the dance material from a very specific perspective that offers the site with a very clear idea of how we wanted it to be seen by the viewer and what kind of sensation we wanted to create. The performance is the overall installation. Architecture, choreography and cinema are completely autonomous in this project and totally reunited in the postscript that I developed during the editing.

 

What elements of the buildings were brought into the performance? What do you mean by the postscript?

 

It was qualitative, the quality of each space guided our decisions. That quality comes not only from the building but by its surroundings, people, traffic, sound, all this gave weight or what I call the presence of a space. Being in this empty Gas-Station during the night was quiet theatrical, once the fluorescent lights were on and you see the dark bushes at the back of the station, it generated a tension or a kind of drama that we exploited. We did not need to do a lot. I mean, in reality, the performers did do much more during filming but the film was really created in the editing room through what I called the postscript, looking at all the material (camera movement, performers working with outside material and or composition such as the sound etc..) all this became something after editing the material, which morphed from editing to directing, scripting, and staging an installation.

OUT OF MIES

 

At certain moments in the films, you alter our perception of the buildings through the orientation of the dancers in the space – what does this illustrate?

 

Someone on the film set had this idea and we did it without any preconceived notion of what the result would be. Once we were in the editing room, I realised that this image gives a sense of penetrating the walls and the floors of the building.

 

Image credit: Sue Barr

Nuns’ Island Gas Station
Image credit: Sue Barr

Did you work with the AA Exhibitions team to design the space in which the films were viewed? 

 

Absolutely. This was a wonderful team effort. I still remember the long conversation I had with Vanessa Norwood, Sebastian Craig and Lee Regan on how we wanted to experience the work in the AA gallery. I should underline the remarkable work done by Lee Regan in designing the space and the incredible work done by the technical team of the gallery to realise it. They were amazingly sensitive to what would be displayed.

How do these pieces relate to your overall body of work and professional interests? 

It is like a fractal, a small part that represents the whole.

 

Image credit: Sue Barr

Westmount Square
Image credit: Sue Barr

For more information:

Main image credit: Valerie Bennett

 

This project was developed with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

 

Image credit: Sue Barr

Nuns’ Island Apartments
Image credit: Sue Barr

Out of Mies Exhibition in the AA Gallery

Lynda Gaudreau’s work