The Burghers of Vancouver

Denys Arcand and Adad HannahCanada2015

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In their 2015 installation The Burghers of Vancouver, celebrated Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand and photographer and video artist Adad Hannah revisit the idea of the urban public monument by dismantling and recreating Rodin's famous sculpture Les Bourgeois de Calais using actors.

Join us in the CIBC Canadian Film Gallery for a free tour of the exhibition! Click here for schedule information.

In 1884, Auguste Rodin was commissioned by the city of Calais to commemorate an event during the Hundred Years' War, when the besieging English had demanded the surrender of six of the city's leaders. Completed in 1889, Rodin's bronze sculpture Les Bourgeois de Calais depicts the moment of the burghers' heroic sacrifice (though their lives would eventually be spared), and was intended to be placed close to the ground so that the public could interact with it and feel the drama of the scene more keenly.

In their 2015 installation The Burghers of Vancouver, celebrated Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand and photographer and video artist Adad Hannah revisit the idea of the urban public monument by dismantling and recreating Rodin's famous sculpture using actors. Shot on location in Paris and Vancouver and presented on six separate vertical screens, the Arcand-Hannah Burghers tells the stories of six people — an anonymous poet, an elderly Korean woman who only speaks her native tongue, a smuggler, an athlete, a laid-off worker and a former junkie — who are hired by a mysterious employer to recreate Rodin's work as a living sculpture in an urban plaza in downtown Vancouver. Each screen follows a single participant from when they wake up and go to work until they return home and go to sleep, the six discrete narratives eventually fusing to create a portrait of a group of people alone, together. Theatricalized but devoid of drama, The Burghers of Vancouver is a public performance, captured on film, that becomes sculptural once more in an installation format.

Presented in partnership with the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, the Musée Rodin, Paris, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (Montreal) and Equinox Gallery (Vancouver).

The creation of this work was made possible by the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Performing ArtsExhibitionCanada