The summer of 2023 is already well underway, and yet this vacation feeling is already making us want to discuss our back-to-school ideas. In response to the climate of uncertainty left by the pandemic, Le Labo is trying to slow things down to make room for exploration… after all, we are an Art Lab, hence our name!

Two years ago, our partner RCAAQ (Regroupement des centers d’artistes autogérés du Québec) organized a forum on degrowth. Back then, it planted a seed in our minds. Catherine Bodmer, Executive Director of the RCAAQ, asked questions that inspired us:

« Can we consider material degrowth, meaning reducing, slowing down and simplifying our lives, in favor of a different kind of growth: ecological and social…? Is it possible to envisage greater social cohesion, enabling a fair distribution of material, intellectual and cultural wealth? How can we achieve this when we have to deal with the imperatives of progress imposed by a neoliberal, capitalist economy? »

Catherine Bodmer

Talking about exploration begs the question of the time required for this work. And that’s exactly what we’re aiming to do here at Le Labo, by devoting more time to the creative thinking of our artists, and prioritizing time for exploration rather than time for success.

Which is why, this year, you’ll be able to discover the new program Le Cercle, as well as the theme of Fallowing, which will serve as a common thread through our activities until 2025. Inspired by the ancestral farming tradition, and free from notions of artistic success and productivity, we’d like to collectively contribute to Le Labo and its community’s rest, so that all the seeds of ideas that we plant, over time, bring us their fertile fruits of diversity. What better way to prepare for the future?

Our programs are therefore changing to offer time, space, resources and support to artists, especially members. Our new approach is designed to help established, mid-career and emerging artists reformulate their conception of the artistic process. We want to invite them to slow down, in a world that likes things to go fast, and to create frustration and even failure.

The Maison des artistes in Winnipeg, Manitoba, recently unveiled the exhibition Habiter, une poignée de terre à la fois, curated by Laura Demers (Toronto, Ontario). Presented until September 2, 2023, we find it a wonderful inspiration for this concept of slowing down and finding balance in a more sustainable world.

« To take an interest in the stories and knowledge that are scattered across the country is to anchor oneself in a way of life that offers the potential for symbiosis. Reflections on natural and built spaces, highlighting the links and networks that unite all kinds of elsewhere, the responsibility of caring for the land, reclaiming the powers of action, glimpses into the rural imaginary; despite the fact that the notion of rurality does not designate the same phenomenon for all, it plays out in the background in the practices of the artists who make up this exhibition. »

Laura Demers

This summer break is a time to rest and explore, and is essential to regain the energy we’ll need next season. We look forward to seeing you again!

In the meantime, enjoy the rest, and let’s get to fallowing.