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SURVIVAL FASHION @ GAME & DAFE  -  2020

 

Following the economic lockdown in the pandemic-spring, the private building and construction sector has undertaken every possible measure to accelerate the building of luxury condos on the Island of Montréal by summer. As a strategy of the private sector in North-American cities to turn any last unused space and lots into profitable commodity, this method enables higher profit margins and municipal tax income, whereas the architectural projects themselves rarely meet the city’s needs. During the same period, a growing part of the population, yet left jobless due to the lockdown, became unable to pay their apartments. These otherwise relatively stable but now precarious citizens were forced into economic precarity, and were all simultaneously evicted from their homes on July 1st in 2020.

By mid-summer, these 200+ newly homeless citizens formed an autonomous village in a vast park strip along one of the most important highways leading towards downtown Montréal. The situation, and the growing camp, evoked some similarities with the refugee crisis in Europe. But unlike in Europe, these people were not stranding at the outside of this country, struggling to be permitted entry, they’ve been ejected from the inside, since they are citizens who have mostly lived in this city for all their life.


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This tragic context forcing economically threatened communities to live as nomads inspired MeyerMétivier Designhaus to create an acid collection of outdoor clothing that not only reappropriates the visually dominant image of luxury condos, but upcycles its promotional material survival style to somehow preserve an affordable living nearby.

 

During summer 2020, the artists retrieved their material off the fence, as a gesture of activism and urban hacking. Surrounding the construction sites of various future luxury towers, the publicity material usually shows pictures of finished compositions, scenic views from the interiors, elegant and minimalist design, gym and spa, etc. Covering the void and accumulating mess of the construction process, these banners work as windows to a virtual future, projecting a financial capital vision of urban landscapes, bathed in the warm rays of a perfectly rendered morning sun. The visual language of these images is redundantly used worldwide to promote every new luxury high-rise. In fact, this style is so overused, it is starting to feel cheap, maybe even austere. 

With the housing problem just about to explode, the sight of these dreamlike images of downtown Montreal became enraging because they seemed far away from the needs of the immediate population of the city. Having retrieved the offensive images, the artists left blank holes in the marketing of these luxury products, and directly attacked the prestige of the constructions.

 

In itself, the retrieved images are of great haptic quality: printed on flexible plastic membranes, the material feels strong enough to be recycled and applied for polyvalent use.
To be seen from a distant viewpoint as large horizontal planes, its initial purpose is to survive outside itself over a long period of time, exposed to all types of weather conditions. Cut down, folded and recomposed in sewing patterns, the material erects from the bidimensional surface to meet its physical qualities in the shape of an architectural body, a shell or a hull. The horizontal orientation is thereby reversed and fragmented on the vertical, as a part of the actual world.

 

Inspired by the growing homeless camp, and the survivability of its people, the artists approached the durable material with specific functions in mind. Together, they created whole collections of clothing and accessories for outdoor living, made entirely from the recuperated images. Aside from being waterproof, the clothing and accessories reused the images in a sort of urban camouflage, as if misery and homelessness could simply be hidden with a few saturated 3D renders.

 

 

 

 

 

photos: Guy L'Heureux

 

 

 

 

 

 

photos : MeyerMétivier Designhaus