I will remember / i will remember
Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot
While leafing through Fred's illustrations in I will remember / I will remember, one thing stands out: the images are straightforward and striking. While the tone is more politically motivated than usual, there are so many things in the world, and so on. The difference here is the subjects and the world is in violent conflict. The environment is not a protagonist, but rather a negative force that ensures the characters will be some kind of misfortune.
Je me souviendrai is a project about Quebec's 2012 students protest, better known as the Maple Spring. What was that period like for you?
It was a collective project launched by André Kadi in the wake of the Maple Spring. Things were getting heated in Montreal and protests had spread to Quebec City in front of the National Assembly.
At the time, negotiations between the government and student union leaders had broken off.
That's when André took the initiative - rather hurriedly - to bring together a slew of people and start the project. It's an eclectic anthology that documents the events surrounding the student protests as seen by an array of artists in the form of texts, illustrations, photos and comics. André had already done some comics with The Bubble Box publishing house in France and they wanted to do something in Quebec. So he invited me to participate.
I hesitated at the beginning. I've always admired artists like John Lennon and Roger Waters - guys that took a stand on social issues that were important to them. But I wanted to find the right angle to tackle this issue.
When the idea for The Vigil came to me, I really got into it and the drawings, the posters and the illustrated story came together lightning fast.
The book was done in two weeks! I drew some 30 pages - two dozen of which were for No longer sleepy who wants, a text written by my friend and author, Simon Brousseau. I could illustrate.
How did you find inspiration for your illustrations?
At first, I was inspired by the Statue of Liberty. It's a strong symbol that I've always appreciated, ever since I was a kid. I found myself at the foot of Lady Liberty when I was 14 and it's one of the most beautiful things I've seen in my life.
After drawing lots of sketches, I finally had this idea of a young woman who was watching over everyone and she was sitting on the shoulders of the Lady Justice statue. It's an iconic image that depicts morality and law - Lady Justice has a sword, a scale and she's wearing a blindfold to symbolize her impartiality.
Some of my illustrations like the troublemaker or my poster with a slogan that reads, "Media bought, Media to throw! ", Which means Impartial media should be thrown out! come directly from my research on France's May 1968 protests. Quebec's Maple Spring.
Are there any other social or political events that move you in the same way?
When I was 17, I witnessed protests during the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. It was crazy to see so many fences and such a heavy police presence in place just so that heads of state and policy makers could hold meetings. Most of the anti-FTAA protesters looked more like hippies than guerrillas and yet they were treated like criminals by police. My first ever painting was heavily inspired by what I was doing in the years that followed.
I finally stopped illustrating those kinds of images. Or rather, there was a change in my tone over the years. I added a lot of nuance and put an emphasis on empowerment in my work rather than simply depicting violent actions. Criticizing for the sake of criticizing can end up being tiring. I prefer to build and inspire. That's what I'm trying to do with that project.
Would you like another project like that?
I could not miss out on that opportunity. The protests against the Vietnam War, May 1968 in France or the Maple Spring in Quebec are major societal events. Many people were young, and they were individualistic, disconnected, etc. "Yeah, okay, they have cellphones but they're also politically aware. The Maple Spring gives a taste of political action to many Quebecers, especially young people.
There's a sentence I like in Brousseau's text that made me laugh when I read it again recently. At the same time, it's a very serious quote
"We were ten miles. I just hope that tomorrow we will be more numerous ... They can not all cringe in prison. They can not kill us all tabarnak."
It reads, "There were ten thousand of us. I can only hope for tomorrow. They can not throw us all in prison. They can not fucking kill us all. "
Read the novel: No more sleep that wants.
Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté
Ó Freed - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent