grant proposal as artistic intervention : or how i responded to the canada council’s new chapter grant application

January 26, 2017

title: everybody knows -canada council grant application
year: 2016
material: words and a very tired worn-out dash of faith
dimensions: variable
image credit: the artist


Everybody Knows

…the deal is… Cohen has been to the dark side. he has experienced mental illness, been hospitalized. he knows where we have been. take it to the streets. cuz shit…

The project “Everybody Knows” marks with “full artistic freedom” Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. I am imagining a brand new chapter in her/his story.
A chapter which begins by juxtaposing people with drastically different public power while playing with established economic values to find the cracks. All this complemented with a fuddle-duddle to marketing strategies and assumptions.

“Everybody Knows” exploits four beautiful givens and mines their subversive potential:

1) “A Crack In Everything” is the title the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal has given the Leonard Cohen exhibition to take place from October to December 2017.
2) “A Crack in Everything” is presented in collaboration with the Society for the Celebration of Montréal’s 375th Anniversary.
3) “Everybody Knows,” the Leonard Cohen song, is regarded as a social commentary on our times.
4) The Canada Council launches a new grant called New Chapter that employs language and sentiments taken from a marketing lexicon.

“Everybody Knows”, the project, complicates this already delicious dialogue through mashing up symbols of poverty (cardboard signs) and power (politicians, union leaders, chief of police, etc.) –i.e. the homeless produce the signs, the politicians hold the signs.

The sign makers: Members from the Saint James Drop-In Centre are commissioned to produce fourteen signs using found cardboard.

The sign holders: Fourteen political figures are invited to hold one of the signs while standing in a row in front of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal during the opening of “A Crack in Everything.”

The sign: The phrase, taken from Cohen’s song “Everybody Knows” displayed over the 14 cardboard signs is:

1)  everybody
2)  knows
3)  that
4)  the boat
5)  is leaking
6)  everybody
7)  knows
8)  that
9)  the captain
10)  lied
11)  that’s how
12)  it goes
13)  everybody
14)  knows

As a slow drum-roll lead-up to the fourteen political figures public performance at the opening of the “A crack in Everything” exhibit, the artist will hold one sign per day at the exact location where the public figures will stand in front of the Musée d’art Contemporain. “Everybody Knows” postcards will be handed out to the public with a link to the project blog (domain already secured as

Our fourteen invited political figures are chosen for their relation to the “Everybody Knows” phrase via their public persona. The gesture of the invitation is part of the “Everybody Knows” project and is considered to be material for dissemination. The invited will include: Couillard (current Premier of Quebec), Pierre Karl Péladeau (Canadian businessman and former Leader of the Opposition in the Quebec National Assembly from his election as leader of the Parti Québécois), Manon Massé (MNA of Ville-Marie where the MACM is located), Coderre (Mayor of Montréal and of l’arrondissement), Hélène Laverdiére (MP for the riding – ousted Gilles Duceppe), Justice France Charbonneau (Presided over the Charbonneau Commission, officially the Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (student activist best known for his role during the 2012 Quebec student protests as co-spokesperson of the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudieante (Classe), to name a few (see images for full list.)

In addition to being invited to perform the fourteen political figures will also be offered “first refusal” regarding the acquisition of the art (the cardboard sign) for the same remuneration offered to the performers for performing. In short, the remuneration of $714. offered to the performers equals the sale price of the cardboard sign the performer will hold. All proceeds from the sales of the art (the cardboard signs) will go to the members of the Saint James Drop-In Centre.

Given that it would be unlikely for all fourteen invited to perform – an alternative list of performers will be contacted from a women’s shelter located in Montréal (currently to remain unnamed for privacy reasons, but with whom I have previously worked.)

The performances (the artist’s and the political figures) are captured via photography and video. The video is to be screened outdoors in the Quartier des Spectacles during the Leonard Cohen exhibition as facilitated by ELLEPHANT, a gallery presenting works at the confluence of media art, performance and current issues. The photographs and the video are also used as content for the “Everybody Knows” blog, postcard, poster and newsprint tabloid.

*From I’m Your Man (released 1988) “Everybody Knows” is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and collaborator Sharon Robinson. The full stanza is:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded/Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed/Everybody knows that the war is over/Everybody knows the good guys lost/Everybody knows the fight was fixed/The poor stay poor, the rich get rich/That’s how it goes/Everybody knows/Everybody knows that the boat is leaking\Everybody knows that the captain lied/Everybody got this broken feeling/Like their father or their dog just died/Everybody talking to their pockets /Everybody wants a box of chocolates/And a long stem rose/Everybody knows

to read how the project underscored the use of language within the very form of the grant application itself click on the links below for the full application.













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