The sounds of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine will rock Verdun

In the very small Parc des Madelinots, in Verdun, located at the junction of LaSalle and Wellington streets, the sounds of buses, trucks, cars, horns and passers-by intertwine. Next spring, when the snow melts, very different sounds will come together from morning to night: those of the Magdalen Islands.

Title Madelineans, the sound installation is an invitation to contemplation and meditation, its co-creator Charles Montambault, from the multimedia studio Paysages, tells us in an interview. His primary goal? Provide calm and well-being to those who stroll through the park or cross it.

The sounds of the Islands will blend subtly with those of the city in order to « connect us to our environment, like a bath in nature does », without being in the foreground, he illustrates, sitting on one of the benches with bright colors of the park reminiscent of those of Madelinan houses.

For me, listening to a sound environment is a form of meditation. Instead of letting my thoughts go, I “meditate” listening only to what is happening around me.

Charles Montambault, co-creator of the sound installation Madelineans

« I want people who cross the park to say to themselves: ‘I feel good here, even if I don’t know why,' » continues the artist, who carried out the project in close collaboration with the borough.

Charles Montambault on the coast of the Magdalen Islands. Photo provided by Charles Montambault

Climbing the cliffs

Waves on the banks, strong wind causing the sand to twirl, rustle the foliage or slam the sides of houses, songs of gulls, cormorants and other aquatic birds, etc. : during his first stay in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine a few years ago, before even knowing that they would inspire him to set up an installation, Charles captured the sounds of the archipelago during his wanderings… going as far as to brave a sandy cliff in order to save a horde of cormorants.

Birds “difficult to register because they are not very noisy. In addition, they are embarrassed”, he specifies.

Just imagine the (unusual) scene: after spotting the right cliff, he went there, not without first crossing a field, stretched as far as possible from the edge « so as not to make it crack », stretching its perch to the maximum, guided by the birds, « more talkative » early in the day.

« I was well motivated, » laughs Charles. Thanks to his temerity, we will therefore hear cormorants in Verdun.

The Legacy of the Islands at Verdun

When Charles moved to Verdun, he immediately felt like he was in the Islands. “Perhaps it’s the cool wind from the nearby river, the friendliness of the people. There is a same feeling.”

He then learned that the neighborhood is home to the largest Madelinian community outside the Magdalen Islands. “There was a big wave of employment immigration in the early 1900s, and it never really stopped,” he explains.

While calling for calm, Madelineans highlights the heritage of the Islands in the neighborhood.

Charles Montambault03
Charles Montambault, creator of the sound installation Madelineans, Wellington Street, in Verdun. Photo: Josie Desmarais/Metro

I wanted to go through the affective instead of going into the historical, because for me, an atmosphere is an affective climate. I wanted to convey what I experienced through a soundscape.

Charles Montambault, co-creator of the sound installation Madelineans

The designer also sees it as an invitation to visit them while there is still time, since they are gradually eroding. And the hurricane Fiona, which ravaged the banks and damaged many houses in the archipelago last Saturday, did not help. Moreover, the storms that hit the archipelago of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are increasingly harsh, due to climate change.

In the Parc des Madelinots, the flowerbeds, whose shape evokes the cliffs, are lined in summer with herbaceous species growing on the Islands. The Madelinot Social Movement is right next door.

That’s without counting the Madelinan-themed breakfast restaurant Chez Jackie and France — whose menu incidentally inspired the title of the installation. The former high school French teacher (whose parents are called… Jacqueline and François, it can’t be invented) was charmed by this word, « Madelinéennes », « which is not really one ».

More artists for next summer

Charles Montambault, who has noticed a growing enthusiasm for background music in recent years, already cherishes the hope of organizing events next summer with sound artists at the Parc des Madelinots. “I would even go further than the music, he observes, with the slowdown of the COVID, it seems that the whole aesthetic of the contemplative, of the meditative art is emerging more and more in the popular. I hope to contribute to it. »

And to show that digital art is not just the prerogative of the spectacular, by putting itself at the service of the introspective.

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