From a cluster of buildings to a city in miniature, the 10th edition of Québec City’s Passages Insolites (Unusual Passageways) explores delightful contrasts in scale. On display until October 9, the annual public art event brings together over 40 artists from around the world, creating an immersive walk through the city’s historic core — converging at a series of site-specific installations at the festival’s headquarters near Place Royale.
Organized by EXMURO arts publics and presented by the Ville de Québec municipality, this year’s Passages Insolites includes a monumental installation to celebrate the decade-old fair. Swiss artist Felice Varini’s striking “Double interlaced concentric circles” stretches across a series of neighbouring buildings to knit together a visual showpiece. From the right angle, the circular forms convey a pair eyes, an effect amplified by the streetlights at their centres.
Varini isn’t the only one to tackle the urban scale with wide open eyes. Local self-taught artist duo Pierre&Marie bring a series of playful eyeball graphics to prominent locations across the Quartier Petit Champlain neighbourhood. Across rooftops and walls, “Big Other” invites passerby to take in the surroundings with a sense of wonder.
At the opposite end of the scale, Swedish artist collective AnonyMouse introduce a new series of their signature miniature vignettes. Meticulously detailed replicas of historic storefronts, the “Little Quebec” sidewalk displays are installed at ankle height, engaging children while inviting adults to kneel down and experience the city from a different vantage point.
The new edition of Passages Insolites also features a variety of interactive follies, including Camille Rajotte’s pedal-powered “Merry-go-view” and Baptiste Debombourg’s cluster of climbable “Radical Nature” installations, which graft vehicle decals — from trucks and jet skis to RVs — onto rocks.
Alongside a wealth of outdoor installations — including works by six Indigenous artists — the EXMURO headquarters at 27 Rue Notre-Dame has been transformed through five site-specific indoor installations.
Highlights include Debombourg dramatic “Dark Tide,” Eruoma Awashish’s bold “Kakike Eckote (Eternal Fire),” and Ludovic Boney’s whimsical “Family Gathering,” where an overstuffed cupboard of board games takes on surprising emotional resonance.
True to Passages Insolites style, it all makes for an unusual procession — and a journey worth making.
The annual fair’s 10th edition transforms a historic urban realm through public art — at macro and micro scales.