A trace is an imprint or mark that attests to the former existence of creatures, whether human or animal, and things. Because traces are survivals from another time, they sometimes need to be reinterpreted in order to be correctly understood. The vestiges of the past serve as reference points in the construction of individual and group memory. Whether in the social sciences or the arts, issues related to the concept of the trace speak to the process through which the past is (re)presented and decoded. By exploring the realm of memory, artists inquire into our relationship with the past and the ways in which we gain access to it by using what remains of it. In the process, we catch a glimpse of the extent to which it continues to act upon our own time.
A trace is an imprint or mark that attests to the former existence of creatures, whether human or animal, and things. Because traces are survivals from another time, they sometimes need to be reinterpreted in order to be correctly understood. The vestiges of the past serve as reference points in the construction of individual and group memory. Whether in the social sciences or the arts, issues related to the concept of the trace speak to the process through which the past is (re)presented and decoded. By exploring the realm of memory, artists inquire into our relationship with the past and the ways in which we gain access to it by using what remains of it. In the process, we catch a glimpse of the extent to which it continues to act upon our own time.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

intervention, Place d’Youville, Old Montreal

Photos: Raphaëlle de Groot and Jean-André de Groot

© Raphaëlle de Groot


Executed within the framework of an event marking the 150th anniversary of the construction, in Montréal, of the first parliament building of a United Canada, Raphaëlle de Groot's piece revisited the traces of a remote past by drawing on findings from archaeological sites and narratives of recorded history. The artist focused on the Place d’Youville, a modest-sized city square that is nonetheless important from the perspective of memory. Unfortunately, it now functions as a parking lot. A breach in the city grid, so to speak, the place contains few clues about the many events it has witnessed. The artist used the parking lot as a surface, sketching the outlines of things that formerly existed there, among them the foundations of the building that housed the first parliament of a United Canada from 1844 to the uprising of 1849. To the markings of her ephemeral commemoration De Groot added notes contained in reports on archeological digs; taken together, these two elements form a sort of text detailing everything contained within the site. The work therefore shed light on the remains and various strata of the past, making reading an act of deciphering whereby one w Read More
Executed within the framework of an event marking the 150th anniversary of the construction, in Montréal, of the first parliament building of a United Canada, Raphaëlle de Groot's piece revisited the traces of a remote past by drawing on findings from archaeological sites and narratives of recorded history. The artist focused on the Place d’Youville, a modest-sized city square that is nonetheless important from the perspective of memory. Unfortunately, it now functions as a parking lot. A breach in the city grid, so to speak, the place contains few clues about the many events it has witnessed. The artist used the parking lot as a surface, sketching the outlines of things that formerly existed there, among them the foundations of the building that housed the first parliament of a United Canada from 1844 to the uprising of 1849. To the markings of her ephemeral commemoration De Groot added notes contained in reports on archeological digs; taken together, these two elements form a sort of text detailing everything contained within the site. The work therefore shed light on the remains and various strata of the past, making reading an act of deciphering whereby one walked on the text in order to read and, by the same token, erase it. The title of the work, Mémoire X99-Y04-25 [Memory X99-Y04.25], refers to the spatial and temporal coordinates of the excavated site, drawing on the memory of it that subsists in the form of traces invisible to the naked eye.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

intervention, Place d’Youville, Vieux-Montréal

Photos: Raphaëlle de Groot and Jean-André de Groot
1999
© Raphaëlle de Groot


Mémoire X99-Y04.25

Photos: Raphaëlle de Groot and Jean-André de Groot
1999
© Raphaëlle de Groot


Organized at the behest of the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, this intervention made use of lines drawn on the ground to resurrect the unknown story of the site of the first parliament building of the United Province of Canada, the Place d’Youville. At the time this piece was completed, the square was serving as a parking lot. I used orange and blue lines to point out the location of certain ruins now buried under the pavement. (The William collector sewer stood at the centre of the space, while the perimeter would correspond to the foundations of the Sainte-Anne Market, a building eventually renovated to suit the needs of the Parliament.) A text comprising excerpts from period newspapers and archaeological excavation reports evoked past states of the square, as well as the events that took place within its boundaries from the time it was just a patch of countryside along the Saint-Pierre River to the burning of the parliament building in 1849. The parking lot was closed to automobiles for the duration of the piece. The drawn lines would subsequently disappear by themselves, aided by the weather and the passage of vehicles.
Organized at the behest of the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, this intervention made use of lines drawn on the ground to resurrect the unknown story of the site of the first parliament building of the United Province of Canada, the Place d’Youville. At the time this piece was completed, the square was serving as a parking lot. I used orange and blue lines to point out the location of certain ruins now buried under the pavement. (The William collector sewer stood at the centre of the space, while the perimeter would correspond to the foundations of the Sainte-Anne Market, a building eventually renovated to suit the needs of the Parliament.) A text comprising excerpts from period newspapers and archaeological excavation reports evoked past states of the square, as well as the events that took place within its boundaries from the time it was just a patch of countryside along the Saint-Pierre River to the burning of the parliament building in 1849. The parking lot was closed to automobiles for the duration of the piece. The drawn lines would subsequently disappear by themselves, aided by the weather and the passage of vehicles.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Raphaëlle de Groot holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and has taken part in an exchange program with the State University of New York. She also holds a master’s degree from UQAM’s school of visual and media arts. Her work has been featured in one-person shows in Montréal, as well as in a number of group exhibitions abroad.

selected exhibitions
2007 Rendre réel, Scène Québec, Ottawa (Ontario) [Marie Fraser, curator] 2006 Raphaëlle de Groot : En exercice, Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal (Québec) [Louise Déry, curator] 2005 Negotiating Us: Here and Now, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds (England) 2004 Raphaëlle de Groot, Le Quartier, Quimper (France)
Raphaëlle de Groot holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and has taken part in an exchange program with the State University of New York. She also holds a master’s degree from UQAM’s school of visual and media arts. Her work has been featured in one-person shows in Montréal, as well as in a number of group exhibitions abroad.

selected exhibitions
  • 2007 Rendre réel, Scène Québec, Ottawa (Ontario) [Marie Fraser, curator]
  • 2006 Raphaëlle de Groot : En exercice, Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal (Québec) [Louise Déry, curator]
  • 2005 Negotiating Us: Here and Now, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds (England)
  • 2004 Raphaëlle de Groot, Le Quartier, Quimper (France)

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Place d'Youville

Adjacent to the port in Old Montréal, Place d’Youville was formerly the place where the Saint-Pierre River flowed into the Saint Lawrence. As Montréal developed, it became a dumping ground and, later on, an underground channel. The site would eventually house the Saint-Anne Market, built in 1833. And it was there, a year later, that the first parliament building of a United Canada was built. It remained there until the uprising of 1849.

uprising of 1849

After a law was passed to compensate those who suffered damages during the rebellions of 1837-1838, anglophone demonstrators took to the streets and set fire to the parliament building. In the aftermath of the riot, Montréal lost its status as capital of Québec.
Place d'Youville

Adjacent to the port in Old Montréal, Place d’Youville was formerly the place where the Saint-Pierre River flowed into the Saint Lawrence. As Montréal developed, it became a dumping ground and, later on, an underground channel. The site would eventually house the Saint-Anne Market, built in 1833. And it was there, a year later, that the first parliament building of a United Canada was built. It remained there until the uprising of 1849.

uprising of 1849

After a law was passed to compensate those who suffered damages during the rebellions of 1837-1838, anglophone demonstrators took to the streets and set fire to the parliament building. In the aftermath of the riot, Montréal lost its status as capital of Québec.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • demonstrate an understanding of how science and art can be linked;
  • try to explain the state of mind of the artist when she made this art piece.

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