Fluid, Data, Blood: New Sculptures by Michel de Broin
Anna Kovler, Arsenal Contemporary
Sculpture of Steel, City of Nerves
Bernard Schütze, Espace art actuel
Michel de Broin
Bryne McLaughlin, Art in America
Disruption From Within
Rodney LaTourelle, Plug-In ICA
Interview
Michel de Broin, Etienne Zack, Mass MoCA
Montreal’s Retired Metro Cars Are Staying Busy
Mark Byrnes, City Lab
Michel de Broin BMO Project Room
Bryne McLaughlin, Canadian Art
Where is Michel de Broin?
Anne Schreiber, Art Net Magazine
Michel de Broin at Bitform Gallery
Darren Jones, Artforum
Castles Made of Sand
Bryne McLaughlin, BMO Project Space
Entropic engines and retooled appliances: Michel de Broin and the technological unconscious
Daniel Sherer, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Danger awakens the senses: An interview
Oli Sorenson, MKOS
Interview with Michel de Broin
Regine, We Make Money Not Art
Bright Matter
Sarah Milroy, Canadian Art Magazine
Michel de Broin
John K Grande, Border Crossing Magazine
Cities of Light
Bryne McLaughlin, Canadian Art Magazine
From Mad Scientist to Pied Piper
Shannon Anderson, Canadian Art Magazine
Michel de Broin at Mercer Union
Alex Snukal, Uncubed Magazine
Neue Heimat
Bernard Schutze, Berlinische Galerie
Between the Possible and the Impossible
Nathalie de Blois, Musée national des beaux arts du Québec
Art as Conspiracy
Jean-Ernest Joos, ETC Montreal
Propulsion and entropy
Bernard Schutze, C-Magazine
Reverse Entropy
Thomas Wulfen, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien
Objests for Objoys: the attraction of the unforeseen
Stephen Wright, Semaine
A Logic of Being Against?
Bernard Lamarche, Parachute
Épater la Galerie
Jean-Ernest Joos, Villa Merkel
L’espace public mis à nu par l’artiste même
Jean-Philippe Uzel, Spirale Magazine
Résistance?
André-L. Paré, Etc. Magazine

Montreal’s Retired Metro Cars Are Staying Busy, Mark Byrnes

City Lab

 

Whenever a city updates the rolling stock of its subway, a familiar question emerges: What to do with all the old metro cars?
You can hurl them in the ocean to make artificial reefs, or use them for emergency housing for the homeless, or sell them to North Korea, as Berlin did in the 1990s. Or, as in Montreal, you can turn them into public art installations. The Montreal Metro is currently rolling out its sleek new Azur rail cars, putting its half-century-old MR- 63s to pasture. Under the supervision of STM, Montreal’s transit authority, some of the first and oldest cars are preparing themselves for new and radically different lives. Thresholds (Seuils), by artist Michel de Broin, is the first of seven winning MR-63 reuse proposals to STM. The installation debuted in the city’s Quartier de Spectacles during KM , an outdoor urban art festival that ran from August 30 through October 15.
In it, 12 lined-up sets of MR-63 doors swing open when set off by newly installed motion sensors. (“It’s like controlling a steam engine with a microprocessor,” de Broin says, because the door motors are so old.) As the visitor passes through the installation, the doors slide open and closed: It’s as if the reused objects “were molded around the visitor’s body,” the artist says.
The 47-year-old Montreal artist, best known for his use of radically repurposed objects, has long shown a particular interest in transportation. In Shared Propulsion Car (2007), a stripped-down 1986 Buick Regal is used as a pedal car on the streets of Manhattan and Toronto until being pulled over by police and towed. In Trial (2015), the ensuing traffic court hearing is reenacted verbatim inside a moving subway car. He has also made a bicycle that turns the rider’s energy into smoke (Keep On Smoking, 2016) and a project that explored the use of the use of a driver’s body fat as an alternative to gasoline (Reciprocal Energy, 2008).
“These objects are diverted from their [original] purposes to create something that is not productive as much as it provides a means to question the [capitalist] system that initially created them,” says de Broin. “These creations are chances for the objects to revolt against the function and the discipline that inflicts them.”
Thresholds is an example of what de Broin refers to as “technological archaeology.” He tells CityLab that the installation demonstrates a “treasure of know-how” buried in the bodywork of the retired rail cars. It makes visible and reactivates, he explains, “the technical memory of a device rendered obsolete by the arrival of new cars, but which nevertheless testify the innovations that marked their era.”
The artist doesn’t know yet where Thresholds will travel next. Pending approvals, Montrealers should expect to see the other six reuse projects in the near future. Those will include: two new large-scale structures, a fire-prevention training car, a coffee shop for a polytechnic institute, and installations inside a skate park and the Jardins de Métis.

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