The En Masse Project
The whole En Masse project was born from conversations I was having with a very good friend who was living here at the time named Tim Barnard. How can we create a platform whereby we can get corporate donation or money, but so it’s mutually beneficial? ‘Cause he was selling t-shirts, he was busking t-shirts at Metro Mont-Royal and we were like let’s go to American Apparel and get some sponsorship of t-shirts, and we created a whole project for them which was an international roll out. Very interesting, very exciting.
When I was given the space at Galerie Pangée for like four months, I said we’ll create a show. So Tim and I thought all right, this is an amazing opportunity to give the artists in Montreal that we were a part of, this community, a very kind of urban arts collection of tattoo artists, illustrators, designers, street artists, graffiti artists, all these people who didn’t really have gallery representation or who didn’t really explore that kind of world. This was a place for us to bring that to light, this emerging underground community that now we kind of, we get. Now, we celebrate it in this MURAL Festival capacity and stuff. But back then, there was one gallery in town that hosted that. So for us, we had this space.
We wanted to create something that was really dynamic in a sense of how do we get community involved? How do we create conditions in Montreal whereby the community in itself is so powerful that the larger market has to pay attention to it, has to look and say at least what the hell is going on in there? That’s cool. So that was the birth of the En Masse project was that sense of taking different players from very different communities, different groups or crews, collections, all over the city, and taking the best from each and we put about 30 artists in a gallery over the course of a month, covered the thing in paper as a one time experiment to say you guys get to do what you want to do in here. You just have to make it black and white. That’s the only rule. Everything else is open.
And it was immediately successful as a project. We launched it during Nuit Blanche in 2009 and from there, it exploded. It very organically grew into four expressions of activity, museum and gallery, public events and festivals, private and commercial contracts, and then what became a pedagogical branch of activities which we call En Masse For The Masses or En Masse Pour Les Masses.
I mean in a nutshell, the short version would be that En Masse is really a collaborative drawing project designed to explore shared creativity. What happens when people come together to work on something greater as a whole than they could achieve individually?