Papillon (or butterfly in English) is a permanent installation. It is suspended from a concrete block wall that gives onto a substantial parking lot belonging to the new YMCA in the Montreal borough of Cartierville. It was carried out within the framework of the Quebec government “Politique d’intégration des arts à l’architecture”. The building was designed by the Montreal architects Daoust Lestage Inc.
The sizeable expanse of this tract and the prosaic activity that takes place within it required a spatial gesture that could somehow assert presence and contest set notions of where and how to look at art.
Mirroring and stripes
Towards this end, the work reflects its ever-changing context, by making use of glass panels comprising a delicate filigree of transparent and mirrored stripes.
The glass panels are tilted downward so that viewers may see themselves and their context reflected in the glass from up close and at a distance. And so, people, cars, colour, etc become performers in, and therefore fundamental components of the work.
The length of the long glass wall also folds inwards at its centre, thus introducing a welcoming gesture that further gathers people and setting into the piece. Importantly, the fold also generates complex effects of reflection upon reflection.
The work is lit in the evening by the ambient light provided by pre-existing lamp standards. It is also lit and transformed by intermittent flashes of blinking light originating from vehicular head lights.
And so, Papillon proposes a formally simple yet visually complex experience that is particularly sensitive to a public setting not normally associated with art. Due to changing conditions of natural and artificial light, the shifting of the clouds, rain and snow as well as the movement of cars and people, the work transforms itself throughout the day, evenings and seasons. This unpredictability creates a richness of experience that is best understood via one’s movement through space in “real time”.