Vue de l'atelier de Josianne Poirier
Josianne Poirier, Vue d'atelier, 2021. Crédit photo: ENE / Jean-Sébastien Veilleux photographe.

Josianne Poirier

Author / Spring 2021


by Amélie Giguère

With an education in urban studies and art history, Josianne Poirier has been interested for the last few years in spectacular lighting arrangements that animate public spaces in cities. In her doctoral dissertation, developed around an analysis of three Montreal cases – the lighting plan for the Quartier des spectacles, the Cité Mémoire video projections, and the illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge – she deploys a critical reflection on the way in which these projects were conceived in the context of cultural policies and on the promises of mediation and outreach of all types that accompany them.

It was therefore outside of the city, in a completely different aural and visual environment, that Poirier updated her manuscript. Her plan for the two-month residency: to finalize a popularized version of her research, which she will put out with an independent publisher. Why take this step toward a broader group of readers, beyond the limited circle of the academic world? In particular, because how a territory is planned and the role assigned to art and culture within it are everybody’s business, she believes. Humbly, she wishes to take part in the public discussion on the question.

The exercise of rewriting her dissertation, of material that is already so intricate and organized in three chock-full chapters, proved to be a stimulating one. For, yes, there is great pleasure in approaching a new type of writing, which aims to preserve the substance of ideas while casting off conventions of academic writing. It’s also a pleasure also to have a dialogue with a knowledgeable editor who has read other authors and pushes the researcher to take responsibility for her critical observations. Finally, Poirier was very happy to share intimate life with three artists for a few weeks, confirming that it is perhaps time to rediscover artists in general. Time to step back from design firms and institutions and turn to writing down thoughts that are closer to making art.


Josianne Poirier holds a master’s degree in urban studies and a PhD in art history. Her main field of research involves art practices in public spaces and municipal cultural policies. Her dissertation on the phantasmagoria of city lights received the Prix Jean-Pierre-Collin 2018 from the Villes Régions Monde network. She is a lecturer at the Université du Québec à Montréal and acts as an expert for the Québec government’s policy of integration of arts with architecture and the environment. She is now undertaking research into current forms of institutional critique in Québec.