ENSEMBLE, BETH DERBYSHIRE
CITY WIDE PROJECT
COMMISSIONED BY MONTREAL BIENNALE
These works considered ideas of nation and identity, through a series of projects that were embedded in Montréal’s linguistic landscape. Inspired by it French dominated but multilingual culture. These projects, a coin proposal, metro ticket, assembled sign and moving light projection utilise different systems to survey how culture and identity are often made manifest in the public domain through language. These interventions raise the question (in this context) does language equate identity or indeed nationality?
These collective works, Ensemble took the language laws of Quebec as its premise.
Ensemble focused on the relation of the scale of French language to English/other languages (Bill 101, French 50% by law must be larger). The word “Together” was translated into the most spoken languages in the city and was projected in Montréal’s official and unofficial languages in the halls of the Bourget Public building. Each projection simultaneously breaking and adhering to the law as the scale changed constantly.
Derbyshire collaborated with the cities underground to print “Ensemble” onto the city’s metro tickets. The Ensemble tickets value is more than a message when thousands were collaged together to make an English sign that read “together”.
This project occupied different facets of the public realms in that it yielded handheld objects such as tickets or coin, signs and light installations that spread all over a
city via people’s pockets. The projects physical outcomes are available to all but also have the capability to cross provincial and national borders. These interventions in the city operate on different registers to reveal new thoughts on “nation, identity and language.”
5 partners in the work; involvement of approximately 15 people in the delivery of the project. Audience reached approx. 100, 000.