The International Symposium of Contemporary Art of Baie-Saint-Paul is an artistic event that enjoys international recognition and which is focused on present-time visual art forms. It is a recurring activity organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul. The Symposium’s format fosters encounters between artists and visitors. It provides the public with an opportunity to get up close to the artist, thus enjoying a live visual art creation event and observing a range of current trends in the visual arts. It has become a must in the world of visual arts, locally as well as internationally.
Regular visitors of the symposium, ARCHITECTURAMA conducted in 2010 a conceptual study demonstrating the potential for improving the physical layout of the event. Summarizing the deficiencies and opportunities, the study was made on a voluntary basis. In 2011, the study was used by the museum to apply for subsidy. A mandate to carry out the project for the 30th anniversary edition followed in 2012.
The proposed concept takes into account the two realities that coexist, the artists who work there daily and the visitors. The interventions can be grouped under three categories:
organisation of space:
Establish a space hierarchy by using only a part of the ice rink and by aggregating the functions to create a suitable density.
Create a set public space, proportionate and readable by placing the workshops and other spaces along a single movement axis in which the centre widens to form a square.
Develop a perspective with its focal point towards the arena’s garage door, the only presence of natural light.
Provide for each artist a well-defined space and a flexible relationship with the public and the other artists
Create a transitional element, marking the entry by monumental lettering.
Define and differentiate a central square.
Provide the café a direct contact with the outside and a comfortable spatial density.
Allowing the artists’ workshops to be adapted to each’s work and personality.
Better defined and intimate spaces allow more comfortable and gentle interaction with visitors.
Improving the lighting, an aspect of great importance for artists.
Creating rest areas in the central space and café.
Workshops consist of a lightweight wooden modular prefabricated panels system designed to allow assembly in multiple configurations. The use of common and economic materials such as timber studs, masonite, bolts and nuts, assembled in a rudimentary way with metal plates allowed a non-specialized fabrication and a costs reduction. The workshops can be plugged directly in new outlets installed in the arena ceiling. The staff can now make all the connections without using to the services of an electrician.
Installation is easy and is done using basic tools by the museum team.
All elements will be reused each year. New workshops models will be made since the panels can be assembled in many different ways to meet any specific need. The panels can be easily repainted and repaired.
The majority of elements were made by Baie-St-Paul’s Atelier la Cire-Constance, a non-profit organisation which has a «rehabilitation through labour» program. The manufacturing process began by prototypes. Their involvement was essential and is an integral part of the project’s development. Collaboration with local resources has been a success, each person being interested in contributing to this important event for their town.
With the new workshops and layout, a major change of perception and appreciation is confirmed by everyone involved. By repositioning the Symposium as a dynamic, professional and high quality event, and in the context of an ever-greater cultural offer, the project has contributed to ensure its sustainability and its development for the benefit of the whole community.