Barrater les sols pierreux (Churning the rocky soils) questions the notion of commons by exploring the living forces of human experience, namely the acts of sharing and of reciprocity, through research, actions, performances, and encounters. The inspiration for this project by Anouk Verviers comes from a family object, a stoneware pot used by her grandmother to prepare baked beans, at a time when collective cooking in the baker's oven was the norm. This simple step back in time sets the stage for a creative process that draws its substance from the present and the history of the community where it takes place.
From the outset, the artist solicits individual interviews with members of the community to evoke experiences that are, from an ideological and practical point of view, related to the collective management of resources. The experiences gathered from people of different backgrounds are diverse, ranging from political demonstrations and activism to collective cooking, community gardening and communal living.
At the same time, Anouk Verviers researched the archives of the Société d'histoire de la Haute-Yamaska. There she discovered the challenges of the industrialization of butter faced by the women of the region during the 20th century, when they participated in the family and local economy by producing and distributing butter. This churning skill ensured their financial autonomy; archival documents show that this was unwisely undermined by the ambitions of a regime that favored mechanization and the development of markets.
Barrater les sols pierreux (Churning the rocky soils)… The pieces of an allegory are falling into place. In the artist studio of the 3e Impérial, Anouk Verviers designs and builds objects inspired by the artisanal practices of butter churning; she designs modular and transportable furniture, with clay bricks molded according to the ancient techniques of shaping blocks of butter. With rhythm and constancy, she churns the clay and sand. On each brick, a word is inlaid to encourage the exchange of ideas. All these elements form the backdrop for a series of performances for the camera and a the creation of a video essay in which the artist reflects on the intergenerational relations and individualism that characterize the current economic and social regime. The objects created will also be used in a series of conversations, the first of which takes place on the site of Miner Heritage Farm, next to an old dairy shed.
The pièce de résistance of the project is reserved for the final stage, the in situ performative fabrication of a clay kiln, an ephemeral sculpture, and its firing in preparation for a symbolic collective baking of baked beans to which the public is invited.
Text translated from French: Danyèle Alain; 3e Impérial, Centre d'essai en art actuel (Original version)