in absentia – DARE-DARE says farewell to Mile End

Back in September DARE-DARE – an artists-run centre founded in Montreal in 1985 – put out a call for submissions: Dis/location: projet d’articulation urbaine 2008. A fitting theme as DARE-DARE abandoned the white cube gallery ages ago. For the past few years they’ve been operating out of a sky-blue trailer parked in a Mile End park with no name under an overpass about three blocks from my apartment. In keeping with these circumstances their stated mandate is to support interdisciplinary projects that engage the social and physical realms of the city, its public spaces, its commercial, industrial and residential areas.

I submitted a proposal for project called “in absentia” – a web-based electronic literature project about gentrification and its erasure in the Mile End. I write dozens of proposals a year, but this one was different. First of all, I totally identified with the theme. Our apartment building went up for sale over the summer and we were feeling dislocated indeed. Secondly, I’d never encountered an application process quite like the one DARE-DARE proposes. In the first round you tell them who you are, what you do, what you want to do and why you want to do it with them. If they like where you’re coming from then they invite you to elaborate on where you’re going. This makes a lot of sense for projects that don’t exist yet. My project made it through to the second round. I found it a lot easier to write a more detailed proposal knowing that they were already interested.

In the end, DARE-DARE accepted “in absentia” for their 2008 season. It turns out they have a special affinity for the topic of gentrification – they’re being evicted from their Mile End parking spot July 1st. “in absentia” will launch late in June – DARE-DARE’s farewell to the neighbourhood. Now all I have to do is make the thing. More about that later.

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