John Wood and Paul Harrison, installation view from ‘I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT’, Contemporary Art Gallery, February 12 – April 24, 2016. Photography by SITE Photography

Artists in Public | Justin Langlois Talk

Justin Langlois talk at the Burrard Marina Field House, photo: Jaclyn Bruneau.

I think we should all be restless in where we are — not towards accumulation, but towards an urgency in wanting to better understand the world around us.”
— Justin Langlois

Justin Langlois has recently moved to Vancouver from Windsor, Ontario. He’ll be joining the Faculty of Culture + Community at Emily Carr University of Art & Design this Fall, and the CAG invited him to speak about his practice at the Burrard Marina Fieldhouse on Saturday, August 17th. He is co-founder and research director of Broken City Lab, an “artist-led interdisciplinary creative research collective and non-profit organization working to explore and unfold curiosities around locality, infrastructures, and creative practice leading towards civic change,” and he had lots to share about his background, but more so, his present and future.

He has developed his own brand of social rehabilitation in post-Fordist Windsor—a place which he believes is useful to think about in terms of potential opportunities, rather than as plagued by crisis. For Langlois, his entry into art was not one rooted in a studio practice, but instead in artistic efforts that mobilize several artists and ideas—like organizing rock shows, or producing a 200-copy newspaper. It seems inevitable that his small-town upbringing can be cited as an enabler for his enlightened sense of engagement and facilitation.

He touched on some key areas of the organization’s operational pedagogy and flipped through a small pamphlet (click here to view the pamphlet), sharing each page one-by-one. Each page expressed a carefully crafted opinion or idea that followed suit with its title, Limits and Possibilities: A Pamphlet on Gestures of Art, Education & Civic Life—a title originating from Langlois’ belief that it is easier to begin acting and creating within a defined area, instead of trying to wrangle with infinity. He talked about the necessity to re-think the words and terms that we have come to establish meanings for which are insufficient; things like social change, engagement, public participation, and education. He encouraged the audience to consider each point to act as an entry from which a larger conversation could develop, and people responded at the end with thoughtful and sincere rebuttals. It’s only a matter of time ‘til we see what kinds of projects Langlois brings to life in Vancouver.