QUADrature is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Quad (1980), a work created for television in which four actors move laterally or diagonally in quadrangular set, according to strictly determined instructions. In the 1981 premiere, directed by the author, each performer was synched to their own specific sound effect and shade of lighting. The four performers were of similar height and indeterminate gender, and each wore a long, hooded tunic that shrouded their face. The first iteration of Quad originally broadcast on German television was then reproduced with slight variations, at the author’s instigation. Quad is characterised by scenic restraint, minimalism, and abstraction; actors traverse the stage in every possible permutation of their permitted movements, the four analogous figures moving from solitude to unity without ever touching each other, leaving centre stage empty at all times.
Beckett’s work resonates strikingly with the global pandemic reality facing us today. Quad is confined to the television screen, its actors to a specific perimeter; the anonymity, concealed faces, and repetitive movements will seem familiar to many of us. Likewise, QUADrature has emerged in a context of digital screens, masked individuals moving routinely in predetermined areas, social and physical distancing. Between two people, there is always already an empty space that Beckett referred to as the “danger zone.”
With the support of my Galerie de l’UQAM squad Anne Philippon and Philippe Dumaine, I have conceived of QUADrature as a locus in which four guest curators develop an iteration of the project, each involving four artists. The virtual exhibits in this series will be released over the course of several months, in keeping with the Beckettian dramaturgy of Quad, culminating in a final presentation of works by all four curators and sixteen artists.
While QUADrature is conceived for the digital arena, the notion of shortcoming is germane to its form: it is intended as a forum for curatorial experimentation, interrogation, trial-and-error, and new beginnings. We hold out hope that under ideal circumstances, the works in this series could be shown in the physical space of Galerie de l’UQAM so that they might be enjoyed in their full, experiential materiality.