Montreal took me quite by surprise with its Frenchness. It stands in as a European city in numerous Hollywood films and somewhere in its psyche there dwells an innate confusion – the French city in the French province in the former British colony with the English monarch on its currency and a sat on the shoulder of the world’s pre-eminent (English-speaking) cultural and political power.
The paradoxes and the underlying tension is palpable as you wander its deserted streets.
I seemed to lose myself this time, unable to locate the spirit of drift boxed in between the solid blocks that confined me within 63rd and 42nd Streets.
I found freedom by chance in the Beaux Arts magnificence of the New York Public Library where I was seeking an exhibition of contemporary photography and the city called ‘Eminent Domain’. It was a building that you could spend weeks in.
The exhibition was excellent, Bettina Johae’s ‘borough edges, nyc,’ particularly catching my eye – a series of digital stills taken on bicycle boundary circuits of the city’s five boroughs in an act of ‘remapping’ – redolent of mine and Cathy’s Remapping High Wycombe project where we too drifted to the urban edges to get a fresh perspective on what lie within.
I bagged the last copy of Jennifer Toth’s ‘Mole People’ from the library shop and read it on the subway – gazing out of the window in the hope of catching a glimpse of one of the legendary underground dwellers.