Giving Life to found protest sign in Montréal demo against austerity
Yesterday, March 2, 2015, I walked along downtown streets with about 75,000 other people in Montréal’s anti-austerity demonstration. My bike is clean as I ride it for the first time this spring down St-Urbain street toward Square Victoria where the demo is scheduled to begin at 1 pm. The forecast rain is hiding behind a blue sky and a warming sun. A perfect day to walk the streets of Montréal. I ride into the École nationale de théatre contingent, get off my bike and march the rest of the way with them and their giant puppet.
As we turned onto boul René-Lévesque we joined the UQAM teachers union (SPUQ) contingent that was also heading toward the mass rally. Both groups descended Beaver Hall Hill to join the masses already assembled in the square that was the location of the Montréal Occupy encampment in 2011. I bumped into friends on the way down and left the group to join them. I was without a banner, nor any particular plan of oppositional expression other than my presence.
As the march left the square, I locked my bike and moved with the flow. On the ground in the mud, lay a protest sign. Anyone that knows me already knows that I’m going to pick it up because it is hand-painted in three colours. It is also an irregular shape with a flat top and a rounded bottom. It has a cardboard armband taped to its back side that I slid around my forearm to reveal the shield. I have collected many posters since the beginning of the Printemps 2015 anti-austerity campaign, but this was the first protest artefact added to the archive.
Apparently, it belonged to a woman from Université de Sherbrooke who came to the Montréal demo on bus #4. I ask her : Why did you abandon the protest sign at the beginning of a demonstration after its meticulous fabrication? Did you drop it and loose it or was it somehow too uncomfortable to carry within the demonstration?
Regardless of the answer, I decided that I will carry the protest shield in this demo and incorporate it within the archive for my second project of artefact activation. The first focused on taking the banner “Ici comme ailleurs on a raison de se révolter“, already collected within the Artéfacts Archive, and re-activating it by carrying in demonstrations. What better role could an oppositional artefact have than to be back on the streets?
The “Police Politique” protest shield would also serve the purpose of archival activation, but I am taking the concept a bit further. Considering the tolerance of police violence in demonstrations as expressed by the current government ministers, and by many corporate media editorialists, it seems appropriate to carry the shield alongside the police that so easily inflict violence on student activists during protest. The task is to encourage people to take photos of me carrying the shield with the police in the background: a remediation of the shield into a photo that is then shared online through social media. My task is to find photos taken by protesters or bystanders who were inspired to do so and add them to the archive and to redistribute the message that each person attempted to capture by taking the photo.
If you have seen or taken a photo of this sheild being carried within a demo, please email the photo and share it within your networks.
View all the “Police Politique” PERFORMANCE photos that others took of me,
Manif contre l’austérité / anti-austerity demonstration – Montréal – 2 avril/April, 2015