title: metro rider

year: 2004

location: metro, montréal, québec

duration: six months

supported by: the canada council for the arts


photos: sandra lynn bélanger

i didn’t plan 2 b a metro rider. it’s just on that night when i was taking the metro and my stop came up, i couldn’t make myself get up and walk out the door. i made a plan 2 get out at the next stop, maybe go see a movie, yet when the next stop came, i just let it go on by, …then i thought, to the library, read some magazines; that didn’t happen either. i didn’t want 2 b anywhere. i spent the whole night riding the metro, riding till the end of the line, getting off, turning around and riding again. i began to feel paranoid, afraid people would know i was a fake, that i wasn’t really going anywhere, and then i began 2 wonder if there were other people like me, other metro-riders…

every time i go down i take a transfer and every time i surface i take another transfer. this way i can calculate how long i have been riding: the time stamped on the “surfacing” transfer minus the time stamped on the “going down” transfer gives me the duration. i keep all the transfers and log all the details such as the date, the two letters stamped just before the time, the station i went down in, the time i went down, the station i surfaced in, the time i surfaced, and the duration of riding.

metro rider rides the metro, she goes from anywhere to anywhere. at the end she doesn’t want to come up, so she continues. over the six months she rides the metro for 598 hours and 28 minutes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

title: metro rider

year: 2005

location: la centrale, montréal, québec

duration: one month


photos: roxanne arsenault

i know you have traveled, here, to this gallery, to receive something.
you have made an effort, you have moved your body from one location to another. and now, there is so little here, so little being offered. it’s just that metro rider, she is always moving through space, always deferring any kind of occupation. she is the unknown moving particle in a mass of other moving particles. and now, in this space, that is for her, she is unsure of herself. she is almost afraid of taking space for herself. as if occupation somehow means death, a fixed identity. something that can be held, named, accounted for.

by asking for and receiving, this galerie space metro rider has made a dilemma for herself.

for the “metro rider” exhibition at la centrale i tested out ideas with aneessa hassmi (the director of the gallery) about how/why to occupy the gallery space. i thought it could be interesting to include a bit of our e-mail communications here on this blog as a way of tracing some of the ideas behind the exhibition (although the e-mail communication does not really do justice to how giving and engaged aneessa was with the process.)

date: Sun, 1 May 2005 18:10:11 -0400

To: “karen elaine spencer”

From: “La Centrale” <programmation@lacentrale.org>

Subject: Re: hmmm, thinking out loud

>hi aneessa,
>been thinking (ongoing)
>that maybe the text for the window (still like the
>text on window idea,…) would fit better with the
>intent of metro riding if it was hand written, maybe
>directly on the window, or on cardboard picked up from
>the street. anyways,

very nice idea. you are right i think. more personnel. closer to
experience. easy to write in window. except have to write
backwards/reverse so it can be written from inside! or rain might
wash it off.

>i have come to the conclusion that i want to let the
>occupation of the galerie space “emerge” from spending
>time, so for the first week, or longer, depending, i
>will be “hanging” around the space, like i hung around
>the metro, using the galerie as a “station”, (one that
>has a washroom) and the ledge as a bench. i want to
>allow something, or nothing, to emerge from the
>process of feeling that a physical space, an emptied
>space, waits for me, is mine, for a time.

also very nice. this makes sense.

>still kicking around the idea of tickets for others to
>take, so will also check out the possibility of
>reduced fare.

let me know if you need something from the gallery, like a official
letter or something.

>perhaps i should talk with all three of you at the
>galery to share a little more the idea of time and
>faith and letting be that i want to explore while at
>the same time having the space of the gallery work for
>me in transmitting something of the concept and
>experience of the work metro riding. i know that it
>could be difficult to live with an empty galerie when
>the whole concept of this particular space has been
>that it is a space that is occupied by something to be
>presented for others to see, hear, or experience, so i
>think it is important that a comfort be felt for the
>idea of the galerie as a space that is open for the
>possibility of no thing without pressure coming from
>the exterior to make you who work there feel bad or
>that it is a failure.
>so yeah,
>i plan to hang out
>with an attitude of faith
>that i will
>be able to transmit
>to others this act of metro riding, of something of
>the spirit that moves us to do those things, and what
>it can mean.


>in a way i am engaging with the dilemma of the metro
>rider project, taking a space, living in it.
>blah blah,


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