Monarch Vector :
a transfrontier odyssey following the migratory path of the monarch butterflies
A project by Patrick Beaulieu
with Daniel Canty.
Over thirty-four days of october and november 2007 Patrick Beaulieu accompanied by author Daniel Canty piloted the Monarca Mobile, a modified 1978 postal truck, transformed into a pseudo-scientific observatory, portable art gallery and mobile video projection unit. In this archaic vehicle, at once lumbering and delicate, they followed, by way of land, the aerial path of the monarch butterflie’s annual migration over North America. Presenting multimedia interventions along the way in public places, their travels led them from southern Quebec to the province of Michoacán, México, into the mountains where the monarchs gather by the millions every year around the Day of the Dead. According to the Purhépecha people who are native to the area, the monarchs are the souls of the departed come back to honour the thoughts of the living for them. To follow the Monarch Vector is also to follow a monumental migration of souls.
The back compartment of the «Monarca Mobile» contained «Soplo» (whisper), kinetic sculptures that animated, under a concentrated beam of light, monarch butterflies wings tumbling around inside glass tubes with the wind produced by micro ventilators. The white sheeting of the truck was receiving the projections of «Soul Vector» video in which the faces of border crossing mexican workers intermingle with the twirling of the butterfly wings of «Soplo» installation. Between 2007 and 2015, «Monarch Vector» have been presented in the context of exhibitions and performances in Canada, U.S.A and Mexico at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Morelia, the City Museum of Queretaro, the 2009 Internacional Festival Cervantino of Guanajuato, the Watkins School of Art of Nashville, the Banff Center, the Espacio México of the Montreal Consulate, the Visual Art Gallery of Laval University in Quebec, the Art Mûr Gallery in Montreal and the Art Gallery of Windsor in Ontario. The «Monarca Mobile», permanently parked in the garden of Morelia’s Museum of Natural History in Mexico, has now become a public sculpture. It harbours a permanent exhibition on the journey of the «Monarch Vector», a humble testimony to a monumental odyssey. Texts and images of this project have been published in the «Carnets du paysage» n° 21, (Éditions Actes Sud and l’École nationale supérieure de paysage de Versailles, Arles, France, 2011). «Monarch Vector» (2007) is the first project of a series of performative trajectories regrouped in «VVV: a trilogy of transfrontier odysseys». The project have been followed in 2010 by «Ventury: a transfrontier odyssey trailing American winds» and in 2012 by «Vegas: a transfrontier odyssey on the road of chance».