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Filed under: Art

Many Days Before

Nicolas Dion and Martin Tétreault

I met Anne-F Jacques for the first time in Berlin. It was the Winter of 2009. She had come over to play the CTM-festival. I can’t recall the exact reason why she wanted to meet me. Maybe it had something to do with the ‚das kleine field recordings festival,’ that I organised around that time in unusual bars, that I spotted during my bicycle rides.

Setting up an evening of easy listening music with a narrative and natural feel about it, that would not exceed the volume of people talking, was fairly easy in the last years of the noughties. Most of the time I walked into the bar, explained what I wanted and the prompt reaction would be, that the barowner took out his or her agenda and offered a date.

It was a cold and uncomfortable February day. I had chosen a bar not far from Görlitzer Park, on Skalitzer. Someone had recommended it to me. It was one of those bring-in-the-furniture-from-the-street-and-thrift-stores-bars, that appeared like mushrooms and added a stylised version of squat esthaetics to the town, without changing its down-and-out character. It was uncomfortable as well: the furniture was puppet size, which didn’t seem to hinder Anne-F, because she was just over 1.50. What did we talk about? No idea. Probably it was things you talk about, when you first meet. She was from Canada. I am sure, it would have helped a lot, if I had known more about Canadian culture. As I see it now, it is all about being friendly and helpful in an enormous country, where every family had arrived only yesterday and had to learn how to cope with long, biting cold winters and a new sense of space, which was enormous, of course.

In the years that followed, we knew that we existed and, when needed, we would help eachother as much as possible. Occasionally we exchanged tapes per post. Her envelopes were filled with little things, that I would never throw away. She was there, at the outskirts of my existence; her image evoked a sense of compassion and modesty. But there was also something about her, that reminded of small animals in a children’s book, who became your companion and could talk. They too appeared and disappeared, whenever they wanted. In fact, if you listen to Anne’s soundwork, you will allways hear nearby sounds, as if she tries to imagine what an ant hears, when it shuffles through sand, or how a bee listens to itself when flying around. If mysterie exists, she must be capable of becoming miniature size and hear the world around her with different ears.

I finally made it to Montreal. On the occasion of my arrival she had organised a Tape Run. She had good hopes to finish it during my stay. That would have meant an absolute record, because the tape would travel from artist to artist almost at the speed of one track a day. I met Nicolas Dion and Martin Tétreault who were numbers 6 and 7 in the run, as the hand-over of the tape took place. It was a few blocks up from the book store where Anne worked. „She knows everyone in Montreal,” Martin said. He explained his track which was based on a gold disk that was sent into space. Engravings in picture language explained to the receiver out there, how life on earth was organised. In a next voyage the Montreal Tape Run will be part of the message.

I made good use of my days and drove around town as much as possible, albeit on a miniature sized bicycle. The bike figured in one of my 140character impressions.

"On a 9km/hour bike (20cm below my size): enter the fairy tale railway station with the phantom hall, where no-one leaves and no-one arrives.”

One of my favourite places was the island where the expo 1967 had been held. I stared at memories of a black and white era, got on a little stage where The Supremes performed, and, probably, the iconic president Trudeau had held the inaugural speech. I saw Buckminster Fullers geodesic dome and rode on the racetrack, still at my modest 9km/hour, thinking of the Formel 1 cars that drove 40 times as fast. Moreover I had to think of the enormous roar that would be heard in every part of the city.

"Long bridge, turn to the park, mysterious rumble in my headphones, riverside & city view, then this 1967`s naiv optimism”

I had seen a lot of the town, but when I saw the map, with all its rivers and islands, I realised that there was so much more to explore. Most of the little things pass by unnoticed. They become precious once you get to know them.