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Andres Salas

"I'm shining the spotlight on my neighbourhood."

Andres is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Humanities program and he is one of 10 Experiential Learning Grant recipients in 2019. He used the grant to expand his project called PX80, a multimedia work that examines gentrification in the Parc-Ex neighbourhood of Montreal.

"My main motivation in developing PX80 was to stimulate an open discussion about the ongoing process of gentrification in this neighborhood. I have lived in this area for a few years now; during which time I have developed a special relationship with its inhabitants, with their stories of immigration, with the multiplicities of their present lives and with the uncertainties of their futures. While building these friendships, I collected stories and images from each one of the characters on this interactive map, creating a human collage intended to honour the people who have built and compose the uniqueness of this neighborhood."

This is an interactive map that allows the audience to navigate through the different stories in Parc-Ex. Tap/click the image to visit the map.

Five years after the first phase of PX80, the University of Montreal’s MIL Campus inspired Andres to develop a second phase of the project, this time focusing on people confronted by the reality of gentrification through evictions. "My initial intention of collecting the stories of families pushed to leave the neighborhood due to rent increases and bad housing conditions was slowly transformed as I started to meet with social activists, inhabitants of the neighborhood, academics and social workers. Through this experience, I was able to develop active listening skills, self-awareness, and self-direction. Understanding how the reality of the neighborhood had changed from 2014 to 2019 opened the door to new ideas on how artistic research could push my initial research goals further."

A still from Andres' short film Mirages (scroll down to watch it).

"Being given the opportunity to participate in this grant program has allowed me to develop new techniques to use artistic research to connect local challenges with global dynamics to find better solutions. A deeper analysis, reflection and understanding of the dynamics affecting the local community of Parc Extension, encouraged me to look at global dynamics that are affecting similar vulnerable communities, in different parts of the world (Dublin, Berlin, Bogota, Mexico City). I was able to shift my approach to the project by being open to understanding it in a different way. In this sense, the new phase of PX80 tries to understand the challenge of preserving memory in Park-Ex, through the short film "Mirages," featuring the voice of Mohammad Didarul Hassan, a Concordia Alumnus with a diploma in Community Economic Development from the School of Community and Public Affairs."

Visit PX80 to travel through Parc-Ex via its stories and watch Andres' short film Mirages below.

Mirages (10 minutes): Two spaces existing in the same neighbourhood; two spaces, two different temporalities. The challenge, to preserve memory. The new progress installs itself under the premises of green capitalism, with old promises of social engagement and environmental responsibility. An organic social network is disrupted by a mirage made of mirrors, the landscape is changed and the horizon announces the future; the inevitable? the repeatable?

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