Plaza Nights


Audio recording transferred to digital support, metal structures, thread, rotating device, loudspeakers, scores, photograph
With the financial assistance of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

Collection of the artist

Protocols are at the heart of Bernatchez’s practice. Fashion Plaza Nights, for instance, involved photographing each of the four sides of the Fashion Plaza building and its neighbouring building once a month from dusk to dawn over a period of one year. Capturing the rhythm of the tenants’ activities through the variations in light emanating from the windows, these photographs became the matrix for twelve musical scores (one for each month) for two pianos. In the final presentation, the 104 spools of thread unfurl, encasing the two speakers in a finely spun cocoon and thus gradually muffling the sound of the music.

My aim was to create a dreamlike realm from a place that was part of my daily life and, at the same time, the workplace of hundreds of manual workers, artists and various manufacturers. Abandoned by the free-falling textile industry, the building was undergoing profound change. I saw it as an icon of the decline of the American empire, in macro and slow motion. I imagined different space-times, multiple parallel temporalities, power shif ts, job losses, diverse realities, all layered on the twelve floors and crossing paths in the elevators. It was the end of a cycle, a reign, a civilization … dying in slow agony, to the rhythm of nature reclaiming its rights.

Patrick Bernatchez in Muhlen, Kevin, “Interview with Patrick Bernatchez”, Patrick Bernatchez. Les temps inachevés, Luxembourg, Casino Luxembourg ; Montreal, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2015, p. 88

Spring, summer, fall, winter

In the final presentation, the scores are programmed to control the pace at which 104 spools unwind. Little by little their wires wrap around a speaker that revolves on itself, gradually turning it into a kind of chrysalis as the exhibition draws to a close.