location: montréal, québec
duration: nine two-hour shifts totaling eighteen hours. performed at three different locations
supported by: the canada council for the arts
location: place ville marie
the media declared place ville marie as a potential target for a terrorist attack (just post 9/11.) security was at an all time high.
location: metro station villa-maria
on january 10, 2002, winston roberts, a nineteen-year-old black youth, was beaten unconscious by metro security personnel at the villa-maria metro station. he was charged with loitering.
chosen as the final place for loiterin’ due to the locations visible street-level poverty.
loiterers: nathaniel spencer-cross, gabriel spencer-cross, christine redfern, mathieu robillard, jessica maccormack, aneessa hashmi, jack stanley, benjamin mosher, mathew law, lou nelson, sylvie cotton
Six people are hired to loiter at the same time at the same location for three separate sites in Montréal. A wage of $30 per hour is paid to mimic the wage of skilled labour.
You lean your back against a wall, you stare out at the world and then you shift your weight to stand on your feet – you begin to wander aimlessly – dawdling a short distance away you tarry over a storefront window. You portray an image of assumed indifference and leisure.
loiterin’ takes the loitering “no-use” value and works its subversive presence. A public street-level urban project whose aim is to visibly confront the production of relations that places certain activities, certain people, and certain spaces in a position of descending value. Loitering, as a job, is ascribed a positive value (at least temporarily) that places the hyper productivity/consumerism that underpins our society into question. While loitering one neither produces nor consumes a product. However, it must be stressed that it is not only the “image” of loitering which is teased into a productive value, but also the act and the consequence of inhabiting public space as a heterogeneous group, in this way.
The loiters presence at the Villa-Maria metro station (the first site for the project) was duly noted and questioned by the youth who normally occupy the station. The youth directly challenged the loiters as to what they were doing and who they were, i.e., were they cops. The loiters unknown status and unknown reason for hanging around the metro station created a tension, creating an “us” and “them” scenario– especially as some of the youth were involved in dealing. The tension came to a head when a photographer appeared on the last day of the occupation to photograph the loiters for documentation purposes. The presence of the photographer elicited direct opposition — with many of the kids demanding that their image not appear in any photograph.
The confrontational nature of taking up space, or occupying territory, was repeated at the Place Ville Marie location. Here the confrontation was more institutional, the loiters were not invading any particular person’s sense of territory, but rather an over-all corporate sense of space–these big lush empty spaces were designed to be moved through, not occupied. The on-site security were polite.
The last location, Montréal East, was perhaps the most interesting in that a direct confrontation did not ensue. The location was larger, the loiters sense of “fitting in” was perhaps easier, and the nature of the group was definitely less confrontational. Here the interest lay in the physical daily act of “living” in a community not of one’s own per se. The interest shifted from occupation to insertion. The loiters ate at the meeting place the “Pataterie” and shopped at the local Salvation Army. The environment was pedestrian friendly, benches, empty lots, and people moving through the space.
The documentation of the project (having a photographer come on the last day for each site) impacted upon the project in an interesting way. The act of photographing legitimized the loiters as “having some external reason” and it also opened up a space where dialogue became possible. People are not shy about talking to someone with a camera it seems. As the production of these images became part of the process, they also exist as a trace of the event.
The Criminal Code
Consolidated Statutes and Regulations
Main page on: Criminal Code
Disclaimer: These documents are not the official versions (more).
Causing disturbance, indecent exhibition, loitering, etc.
175. (1) Every one who
(a) not being in a dwelling-house, causes a disturbance in or near a public place,
(i) by fighting, screaming, shouting, swearing, singing or using insulting or obscene language,
(ii) by being drunk, or
(iii) by impeding or molesting other persons,
(b) openly exposes or exhibits an indecent exhibition in a public place,
(c) loiters in a public place and in any way obstructs persons who are in that place, or
(d) disturbs the peace and quiet of the occupants of a dwelling-house by discharging firearms or by other disorderly conduct in a public place or who, not being an occupant of a dwelling-house comprised in a particular building or structure, disturbs the peace and quiet of the occupants of a dwelling-house comprised in the building or structure by discharging firearms or by other disorderly conduct in any part of a building or structure to which, at the time of such conduct, the occupants of two or more dwelling-houses comprised in the building or structure have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied,
is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Evidence of peace officer
(2) In the absence of other evidence, or by way of corroboration of other evidence, a summary conviction court may infer from the evidence of a peace officer relating to the conduct of a person or persons, whether ascertained or not, that a disturbance described in paragraph (1)(a) or (d) or an obstruction described in paragraph (1)(c) was caused or occurred.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 175; 1997, c. 18, s. 6.