Entre Ville is J.R. Carpenter's affectionate and keenly perceptive homage to her former Montréal neighborhood, Mile End, and its many inhabitants. With poetic text framed by videos documenting the texture and sounds of the back alleyways, Entre Ville is a richly layered and sensorial exploration of the entre ville, the interior city. Some of the visuals are superimposed upon maps of her neighborhood, the flattened, putatively objective Cartesian view of space punctured by the subjective eye of the handheld camera, its unsmoothed movements suggesting a perspective from/of the streets. The heart of the piece, though, concerns the relations between (entre) neighbors, what Carpenter names as "an intimacy born of proximity."


Author description: Entre Ville was commissioned in 2006 by OBORO, an artist-run centre in Montral, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Conseil des Arts de Montréal. Although I had lived in Montréal for 15 years at the time of the commission, Entre Ville was my first major work about my adopted city. It took me that long to learn the vocabulary. I don't mean French, or Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Yiddish or any of the other languages spoken in my neighborhood. I refer, rather, to a visual, tactile, aural, sensorial vocabulary. My home office window opens into a jumbled intimacy of back balconies, yards, gardens and alleyways. Daily my dog and I walk through this interior city sniffing out stories. Poetry is not hard to find between the long lines of peeling-paint fences plastered with notices, spray painted with bright abstractions and draped with trailing vines. Entre Ville is a web-based heat-wave poem presented in the vernacular of my neighborhood, where cooking smells, noisy neighbors and laundry lines crisscross the alleyway one sentence at a time.

Instructions: Use the up and down arrows to scroll through the text on the page and click on the icons to open other windows.

Previous publication: Entre Ville was launched at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal April 27, 2006.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.