Last week marked the opening of Aires Libres 2013, the annual pedestrianization of the Gay Village on Montréal. It took a few days to string the thousands of pink balls as a delightful moving canopy above the street, and even last night as I made my way down the street crews were adjusting the tension on the strings of balls. Soon the little people lifters will be gone and we will be left to enjoy the pink balls above and the curious shadows these ever-moving spheres provide on everything below them.
Seen from above — from the Jacques Cartier Bridge, from above the third or fourth floor of any building in the near vicinity, or from aircraft flying low overhead — they paint a pink swath through the eastern part of the downtown. But most of us won’t see this sight from above, but from one of the many outdoor areas added to almost every bar and restaurant along the street.
The other aspect of the summer outfitting of the Village that is not to be missed is the art installation in the lot on the corner of Wolfe and Ste-Catherine. The past two years, there have been a plethora or red poles with illuminated letters atop them spelling out a poetic phrase, at least when you have manoeuvred to the appropriate spot for them all to line up. The phrase changed between years one and two of that installation.
This year, we have “Memory Gap,” a series of six walls with aligning holes and images and words to see while looking through them at different angles. As a bonus, there are words and images on the ends of the walls that line up, again, only when you have positioned yourself at the appropriate position.
The real reason to take this in, however, has less to do with the décor of the street and more to do with the teeming life you will find there at all hours, all summer long. Planned activities and spontaneous crowds to help us all appreciate that season where it doesn’t snow and we can pretty much live outdoors for a glorious three months plus. This taste of the street under the pink balls was filmed for the first edition of the installation, in 2011. The magic continues…