Dominique Paul’s artistic process and trajectory are presented through videos and still images in Gallery III. The artist engages with the habitat through which she communicates with the passersby, wearing interactive structures combining recycled materials and technologies. These structures address social and environmental issues: from rising sea levels, income inequalities, gentrification in marginalized communities to air quality injustice. The artist performs on walks by representing the “mutant” symbol of the various calamities affecting the present century.
With the Air Quality wearable, real-time data (the quantity of small particles) is being measured by a portable device while the Air Quality Index color code associated with the measurement is displayed on the wearable structure. After extensive research she discovered the Air Beam which displays the number of small particles in the air (PPM 2.5). The artist walks in the public space capturing the passersby attention through the lit structure. The participatory viewing begins with the interaction between the viewer and the artist as she explains the data and meaning associated with the color of the lights. This approach leads the viewer to relate to the issue from their lived experience such as Asthma and motivates them to share their personal story. Consequently, the air quality dress may raise the awareness to the connection between air quality and health issues.
The color-coded wearable art structures displaying the data provides a twofold interaction: enabling the data gathered from the artist’s location to be visible to the viewer and engaging with the viewer to discuss the displayed data. This is a unique way of visualizing data, engaging the body with technology to perform in the public realm.
Made with a multitude of recycled stuffed toys stuck to each other, as if all the animals on the Earth had become one organism, reintroducing animals in decline into the urban environment. Humor is not absent from this Marie-Antoinette-like configuration: extravagant and colorful, it spills through the imagination of all who see it.
The Wearable structure represents the statistics of Wildlife Populations (WWF) in South America which experienced a loss of 84% of its land animal represented by the number of stuffed toys on the dress (Only 16% are still alive and is represents by the number on the head of the dress). The Animal Population Decline structure represents a visual warning that animals are not the only ones in decline, thus signifying the decline of civilization. The performance took place in the South Bronx borough of New York City.
Documentary: Animal Population Decline in Québec: The Process (8’ minutes, 40’’)
ART VIDEO: 2 Animal Population Decline, Spoken Word 8 minutes 50”
150 Animal Species at Risk in Québec: Still images of the Jacques-Rousseau secondary school students in endangered species handmade costumes.
This artistic performance raises public awareness of the decline in biodiversity by means of spoken word poetry. In collaboration with the artist 150 students in the arts program of the Jacques-Rousseau secondary school created a structure for embodying the 150 endangered or vulnerable animal species in Québec.
In a civic act to raise awareness to the causes of the declining populations of birds, insects, mammals and other species, the students speak out about the issues precipitating the decline in animal populations. The spoken word poems are recited to the rhythm of the Brazilian percussion group musicians Ritmistas Mtl. A North-South connection is created between the boreal and Amazon forests, two great sites suffering from alarming deforestation. There is still time to preserve them and to restore their habitats.
Photographers Margot Dejeux, Liana Paré and Dominique Paul.
Arthropods are distinguished by a cuticular exoskeleton, secreted by an underlying layer of epidermal cells. The Migrations of the Arthropods continues Pauls’ preoccupation with insects from the work of the past decade but she adds a layer of purpose, proposing an imaginary strategy to better adapt to climate change. Paul transforms herself into an insect by building an exoskeleton made of plastic bottles and containers, referencing the resilience of some insects’ species and their ability to thrive in extreme climate.
“I build wearable structures from recycled plastic containers: they extend the body at the same time as they isolate it, enacting a changing environment. I am experimenting with a dress which allows me to float upright and be ever ready to enter the water. This will be particularly useful when its level rises. Cockroaches are predicted as the species that will thrive with climate change and I am practicing adapting and become one”
To better acclimate to New York city upon her arrival in 2012, Paul created a dress with lights in the form of a portable structure which made her look like an insect endowed with luminous teguments. The arthropods’ teguments are crucial for their survival as they serve to guide, locate food, sense the temperature, and enable the return to the colony.
The new luminous insect created by Paul enabled her to demonstrate these functions in the performance entitled Migrations of the Arthropods (2012). The lights surrounding her body move like a constellation which had grafted itself onto the body’s surface. The artist thus becomes a photographic and luminous body. This body enabled her to perform with a commanding presence which was shared with the inhabitants as she walked around the city. Paul glides and browses, plunges, and floats on the surface of the water reminding the viewer how humans and insects share the ability to float.
Unlike insects or birds, humans fly only when they take a flight or when their imagination leads them to ‘elsewhere’ free of a physical bond with the Earth. In 2012, Paul performed Migrations of the Arthropods on Coney Island, a magical place where New Yorkers can let their imaginations run free.
8. Encyclopedia Britannica
9. Tegument is the outer covering of an organism, such as an animal or plant. In animals, the tegument is usually a specialized layer of skin, while in plants it is usually a specialized layer of bark. Teguments protect the organism from the external environment and help maintain homeostasis.
10. Adapted from Chantal Pontbriand in Silent Spring Becoming Bird catalogue
The wearable structures address social and environmental issues: from rising sea levels, income inequalities, gentrification in marginalized communities to air quality injustice. The artist performs on walks by representing the “mutant” symbol of the various calamities affecting the present century.
Early works include Too-Big- to-Fail (2014), a reference to the rescue of the large American banks which are “too big” to go under), The Haves-and-the-Have-Nots (2014), Increasing Revenue Gap (2014), Overfishing (2015), Oil Dependency dress (2010) and can be viewed here .
Following Migrations of the Arthropods (2012) in New York City led the artist to introduce more layers of engagement into other wearable art structures. In 2013, Paul came across statistics presenting the revenue gap between CEO’s earnings of the largest American corporations and their employee’s average salary (399 times more in 2021 in comparison with 20 times more in the 1960s). Based on this ratio, Paul created a modular structure, the Increasing Revenue Gap Dress using the water bottle as a measurement unit to translate the scope of the gap demonstrating the inequality. The structure serves to reveal more information about social issues: the data is translated into an object that can lead the visitor to reflect on rising inequalities undermining the democratic process.
With the Median Income per Household wearable art structure, the artist becomes a ‘column of data’ reflected in LED lights, translating the Census Bureau data into a color code taken from a WNYC mapA GPS and a microcontroller impact the height of the column as well as the color of the displayed LEDs. This consequently led to deep engagements with passersby discussing gentrification and lack of access to resources.
“Migration, the explosion of inequality and the New Climate Regime all represent the same threat. Most of our fellow citizens underestimate or deny what is happening to the earth but understand perfectly well that the question of migrants imperils their dreams of a secure identity”.
-Bruno Latour, Où atterir? Comment s’orienter en politique
“If what must be overcome is dualism itself, we cannot dispense with a philosophical anthropology, meaning to ask ourselves the question “who is human compared to other living things?” For if other living things are truly other, they are similar others.... The world of living things is made up of interlinked, interdependent, and interwoven others.
-Baptiste Morizot, Raviver les braises du vivant