in mid-april, we had a mini heatwave in québec city and were luckily able to take full advantage of it. simon and i dusted off our bicycles and took a lovely ride around our city. one of our stops was at our favourite québec city art gallery, galerie morgan bridge. their latest expo was in conjunction with festival de la bande dessinée francophone, and featured sketches and drawings by artist jimmy beaulieu.
jimmy beaulieu’s art is right up my alley: his books tend to be filled with colourful pencil crayon sketches…. of lots of gorgeous representations of queer women. i’d browsed some of his books at some of my favourite bookstores, but never had the cash to take them home. this exhibition might be the turning point for me though – there’s something his style and his characters that really draws me in, aesthetically and politically. i was thinking out loud to simon as we admired the art on the walls that even though these were all drawings of naked (mostly lesbian) women, drawn by a straight guy, for some reason it didn’t feel exploitative or lewd. i must admit i don’t have anything to back me up on that other than just my gut feeling, but it’s true. perhaps it’s because, as i’ve been discussing with friends ad nauseum these days, we’re starving for representations of ourselves. perhaps it’s just nice for me to see drawings of people who look like me and my friends. perhaps that’s part of beaulieu’s intentions… perhaps not.
as simon and i enjoyed the exhibition and admired the great fit of pink and black painted on the largest wall space, alex lemay, who runs the galerie morgan bridge, informed us it was a happy accident of sorts: the exhibition beforehand had called for pink walls, and instead of having to paint over it twice, they incorporated it into the expo.
i was tempted to purchase this piece for simon – he kind of has a thing for brunettes with glasses.
but it wasn’t just the framed pieces on the walls that tickled my fancy – it was the whole atmosphere of the space. with so many sexy images on the wall, the cozy cast-iron bed was a wonderful touch.
there was a subtle hint in the expo that beaulieu’s work – although pretty – is not without substance. take a closer look at the bed: a red square pillow placed there hints at political solidarity. you might have no idea what i mean: what the fuck does a red pillow mean, politically? if you haven’t already heard, that red square has become the symbol for support and solidarity with the student strikes in québec. for the past 12 weeks, student unions around the province have been striking in opposition to the provincial government’s proposed university tuition hike of 75% – which works out to 1,625$ – over the next five years. at different points over the last two months, over 300,000 students have been on strike, and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets. but it’s not just students – as police brutality and arrests has increased, so has support for the movement. most wear a small piece of red fabric pinned to their clothes with a safety pin, and others have taken to spraypainting red squares on sidewalks and buildings.
the red pillow in beaulieu’s exhibit was not a mere example of tokenism – he’s been busy these days producing art around and in response to the student strikes since february. he’s among one of the many artists who have been speaking out in support of the students and has been highly critical of the incidents of police brutality – as shown in his piece “hâvre de paix” seen below.
as you may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, the student strikes – and debates around them – have really heating up here in recently. it’s kind of astounding how many protests (often 2-3 a day), debates, beatings and arrests have happened over the course of the past two months, and it’s only quite recently that the media outside of the province has been covering it.
i must say i’m not the most informed on the events – i’ve been away and unplugged for most of april, taking advantage of not working as a journalist right now – but i’ve had the chance to read a handful of interesting articles on the questions being raised by this movement. check out the zine jimmy beaulieu and many other great québécois artists have contributed to here. and here are some of the best reads i’ve found about the strike. comment and add your own if you’ve seen any great ones!
- A look at the massive student movement shaking up Quebec by Richard Fidler (April 25, 2012)
- Quebec student fight goes international: How a battle over $1,625 got noticed by Stefani Foster
- The colour of the student movement: “maîtres chez nous” by Lee Way at You Must Start Somewhere (April 21st, 2012) (via karine)
- Quebec is no Egypt: Why the student protests are not a revolution by Patrick Legacé in the Globe & Mail (Friday, April 27th, 2012)
- Quebec’s student strikes by Drew Nelles for Maisonneuve (Saturday, April 28th, 2012)
- Resistance is not violence: putting property damage and economic disruption in perspective by Mona Luxion (April 28th, 2012)
- la hausse en question zine about the student strikes in québec
- Brûler pour ne pas s’éteindre: La désobéissance civile expliquée aux puissants par Stéphane Baillargeon (28 avril 2012)
- Lettre de dénonciation de la répression policière lors de la Manifestation nationale féministe à Québec (le 27 avril 2012)
twitter hashtags about student strikes: