Mapping Debris Together was a participatory workshop facilitated by Tricia Enns [student member, Concordia], with co-facilitating support from Christine White, which invited individuals to walk together around the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal. While walking we used our senses to experience the area, shared personal stories, collected debris, and ate snacks. The workshop began at the Saint Laurent Metro Station where we reflected on our relationship with this place; the land, the histories of the area, our personal memories, and our experiences in the moment. Then we slowly weaved our way along Saint Dominique, towards Saint Catherine Street, to eventually finish at Place de la Paix.
Place de la Paix was used as our paper making studio where Tricia Enns unpacked paper making supplies on a bench in the park. Then each individual created and supported each other in making debris mappings from the materials collected.
The goal of the activity was to explore new methods of experiencing and understanding the Quartier des Spectacles through walking and the haptic experience of mapping using collected debris and paper making techniques.
The participatory workshop was an extension of Tricia Enns’ graduate research-creation work, supervised by Dr. Alice Jarry [co-investigator member, Concordia], within the department of design and computational arts at Concordia University titled Narrative Debris. Within this research Enns explores how alternative forms of mapping the Quartier des Spectacles can be used to uncover new perspectives and narratives related to the socio-political context of the neighbourhood.
Enns uses walking and collection of debris as catalysts for conversations between participants and about the Quartier des Spectacles itself. Debris is often viewed with a negative lens; as dirty, unwanted or contamination; yet in Narrative Debris debris material is collected as treasured clues or traces of what once was. For example, a broken comb could bring up thoughts of the person that used the comb, their hair and what it looked like.
During Mapping Debris Together, while walking participants were invited to collect debris that pulled their gaze, this debris was later used within the mappings created within the Place de la Paix. In total, 7 mappings were created during the workshop. These mappings were taken home with the participants to dry, but below I have included several photos of debris mappings shared by participants weeks later.
While creating mappings in the park, many individuals from the community came up to us with curiosity, and asked what was going on. By creating mappings of the Quartier des Spectacles in a public space, we were not only documenting our experiences of the neighbourhood but contributing to new experiences and understandings of what the area was and could be. By engaging with the space we became part of the Place de la Paix and proposed another way it could be used, if only for a few hours.
Enns continues to invite individuals to participate in the collection and creation of debris and debris mappings. You can find out more about the research at www.narrativedebris.com, and you can even sign-up to receive a participatory kit to assist you in making your own debris map.
Massive thank you goes out to Christine White who supported me in taking photos and helping to make sure everyone was safe and felt included; participants: Don Undeen, Danielle Douez, Amanda Gutiérrez, Shiqiang Jing, Jacquline Mudie, and Sophie Bisping; Hexagram; and the land and all of the beings that we spent time with during this workshop.
Tricia Enns works within the realm of urban space and design. Currently completing her Masters of Design degree at Concordia University supervised by Doctor Alice Jarry. Her research-creation graduate work, Narrative Debris, explores how counter mapping practices that combine walking, paper making, and debris can explore hidden, or overlooked, socio-political narratives of the Quartier des Spectacles neighbourhood in Montreal. Her approach often combines playful, participatory methods that encourage individuals to think critically about how the design of public spaces influences how we move and interact. Enns is a co-founder of This Playground Collective, an international group of artists who create interactive work that challenges our relationships with different public spaces across borders. This Playground Collective received funding from the Scotland Arts Council in 2021 and facilitated a walking de-tour in Bath, UK at the Fringe Arts Bath festival June 2022. In a past life Enns was a systems design engineer, developing technical skills she now applies to her art practice through embedded micro-controllers in fragile-temporal handmade paper mappings, a series of which received a research grant from the Textile and Materiality cluster of Milieux Institute and was exhibited at In the Middle Chimera April / May 2022. Today Enns’ work continues to evolve, through the use of illustration, material reuse, performance, and participatory practices but consistently playfully critiques and highlights the importance of interactions between people, place and materials within urban spaces.