Drawing a few funny looks from passersby, a group of École secondaire Macdonald-Cartier students sat in shopping carts at the entrance to the Rainbow Centre Mall May 8, making loud vowel sounds.
After a few minutes, they gave each other cart rides to the other end of the mall, all while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
The performance art piece was part of La Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario's Fair of Alternative Art in Sudbury (FAAS), which runs May 6-10. The festival aims to bring art into the public sphere.
Montreal performance artist Victoria Stanton was brought in to lead the students in the exercise.
“There were some people who were really into it, making little motions along, and singing along, and other people who were just like 'Please stop what you're doing,'” said Grade 11 Macdonald-Cartier student Alanis Rodriguez.
“I guess that's kind of the fun part, is bothering people.”
Besides the Macdonald-Cartier students' performance piece, 30 artists are set up in the mall's former Benix store, creating art with shopping carts.
With every FAAS, participating artists are given a different artistic challenge, and shopping carts seemed appropriate, given that the festival is being held in the mall this time, said Daniel Aubin, communications co-ordinator, La Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario.
Shopping carts can also be used by the artists to critique our consumer society, as they're a symbol of commerce, he said. Because they have wheels, they can be easily moved anywhere the artists wish.
FAAS also brought in a piece of already-completed art that fits right in with the shopping cart theme — a human-powered carousel made out of metal fencing and shopping carts.
The carousel, set up in the parking lot adjacent to the mall's grocery store, was created by a group of Quebec-based artists who go by the name of BGL.
People are invited to ride the carousel from 3-7 p.m. May 9 and 10 a.m to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. May 10.
The festival wraps up starting at 6 p.m. May 10 with a showcase of the art projects, followed by a dance party in the Rainbow mall's food court.
Many people are hesitant to go to traditional art galleries, because they don't want to seem like “they don't know how to appreciate art,” and feel like they're going to be judged, Aubin said.
“We want to make it so you can have a random encounter with art,” he said.
Kapuskasing artist Normand Fortin collected plastic bottles in and around the mall to turn into a sculpture in his shopping cart.
He said he wanted to make a comment on the fact that we drink water out of bottles, which become litter, when we could just drink tap water. “I wanted to show that we can do beautiful things with something that is discarded,” Fortin said.
Christina Brezina of Ville-Marie, Que. is painting the shadow of two shopping carts on the wall of the former Benix store.
She said she thinks the concept of FAAS is really cool.
“They're not afraid to put artists with the public,” Brezina said.
For a full listing of FAAS events, visit www.gn-o.org.