Against Enclosure takes inspiration from a form of courtyard architecture called a peristyle. The peristyle has been used in contemporary architecture for structures such as communal housing complexes and botanical gardens, and historically in monastic cloisters and Roman dwellings for the upper classes. Loeppky-Kolesnik's 3-sided wooden sculpture differs from traditional peristyle layouts, instead mimicking the form of the FOFA courtyard which is open on one side to Sainte-Catherine Street. In doing so, the project engages with the paradoxical nature of this form: the feeling of sanctuary and intimacy it creates, but also its legacy of land seizure, class dominance, and colonial violence. The explicit exhortation contained in the title – being against enclosure – asserts that common access to land should be revived in the tradition of public commons. In this spirit, visitors can freely walk through the passageways, sit on the bench and take shelter beneath the canopy.
About the Artist
Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik is an artist from Montréal living in Los Angeles. They work in video, public art, sculpture, and installation, creating experiences that tell stories about ecological survival, speculative fiction, the queer body, personal relationships, and sense of place. Recent exhibitions of their work have taken place at SOPHIE TAPPEINER (Vienna), Titanik (Turku, Finland), ONE Archives (Los Angeles), Lantz'scher Skulpturenpark (Dusseldorf), Bass & Reiner (San Francisco), François Ghebaly (Los Angeles), guadalajara91210 (CDMX), and Franconia Sculpture Park (MN). Upcoming exhibitions are planned at the Black Cube Museum (Denver), Art Lot Brooklyn, and Skol arts actuels (Montréal). They hold an MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, USA), and a BFA in Intermedia from Concordia University (Montreal). Their work has been supported by the Dedalus Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Essay by Danielle Callegari, Ph.D., CSW, Assistant Professor of Italian, Dartmouth College
Speaking of the Romanesque sculptures for which late medieval European cloisters would become famous, the monastic revitalizer and mystic Bernard of Clairvaux became incensed, demanding: “In the cloister, under the eyes of the brethren who read there, what profit is there in those ridiculous monsters, in that marvelous and deformed beauty, in that beautiful deformity?” Bernard’s discomfort with the creative and evocative nature of the cloister and the apparently contradictory nature—deformed beauty / beautiful deformity—of what it produced perfectly distills the cloister’s ability to capture and even harness the imagination. The cloister is an enclosed space, but a porous one, acting a nexus between inside and outside, and between this world and the next. It invites experimentation, because it is protected, but it also inevitably pushes up against limitations, because it is confined. It is, on a theoretical level, queer, in its ability to occupy multiple categories and yet not adhere to any. Hybridity characterizes the cloister, and this fluidity—this flexibility—is ironically what has allowed it to survive for so long in a solid, tangible architecture.
The medieval cloister was specifically meant to be a place where the human and the divine could interact. It sought to recreate the conditions of the Garden of Eden, inhabited by the first people with its technically terrestrial location that however provided an opportunity for direct contact with God, and recalling that privileged moment in Christian history before all was lost. The creative potential that it harbored was in alignment with the same archetypal productivity of the earthly paradise: things were naturally “born” within it, as it pulsed with the inspiring energy of the supreme Creator. Members of the religious orders who lived within the monastery came to the cloister to pray, but also to sing, to paint, to sculpt, to compose poetry, to record history. The sacred and the profane and the rare and the quotidian have, in this way, always coexisted in the cloister.
Picture by Alexis Bellavance
"The cloister is an enclosed space, but a porous one, acting a nexus between inside and outside, and between this world and the next."
Indeed, if the medieval cloister was meant first and foremost to be a space for quiet self-reflection and communication with God, its productivity was nonetheless channeled into strategic use. The cloister acted as an outdoor space that could host subsistence gardening and where physical activity could take place. Growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs required labor, and allowed the monastic community to feed itself; the garden and orchard also permitted the production of pharmaceuticals and remedies, often destined for consumers beyond the monastery. This abundance was in accordance with the spiritual possibilities of the cloister: like the Garden of Eden, the cloister was there to provide, in the most essential sense of the word, and—crucially—to sustain the community.
The cloister remains a strong symbol of community cohesion and a space that vibrates with expressive possibility. Its ability to be a boundary even as it transcends chronological and geographical boundaries only further confirms how alluring but, as Bernard of Clairvaux saw it, slightly threatening the cloister can be, deformed by the beauty of what it creates and beautiful in the deformity of what it generates.
This work was created with the collaboration of Atelier Conifères using sustainably harvested lumber and traditional wood joinery techniques.
This project is made possible by the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.