The Words, 2009 – 2010

(in collaboration with Dare-Dare)

This project considers the urban space as a collective space of reflection on the words that we all use.

More than 150 words were written down on the sidewalks of Centre-sud district in Montreal ( They stem from a long investigation tracking their appearance and disappearance in the Petit Larousse illustré along the 20th century. (This investigation started with the astonishing discovery of Jean-Claude Raimbault’s Les disparus du XXe / Les 10 000 mots disparus et les 18 000 mots apparus au XXe siècle.) I wanted to stage the different semantical fields involved in these appearances/disappearances: order (appearance), celebration (disappearance), economy (appearance), idleness and laziness (disappearance), occult sciences (disappearance), and classification (appearance), fear (appearance), etc.

Which were these waves – appearance and disappearance of words – that over time confine a specific though? These words that enter and get out of our mouths, appearing one day – we don’t know exactly why – and sticking to us for many years, what are they carrying? Through this urban intervention, I wanted to engage a critical reflection about how words are transforming and limiting our thought or, better said, our possibility to think singularly.

Illuminated action in Centre-sud district, Montreal, December 2009. About ten performers invade the streets of the neighbourhood, wearing a duo of neon lighting words that brings together linguistico-historical aberrations: biophilia (disappeared in 1919) – life insurance (appeared in 2001)… After the performance, I abandonned the neon lighting words in different dark places of the city (overpass, tunnel, etc.).

Stencil writing intervention in the street.


White, black and pink spray paint, customized wooden alphabet-stencil. Very special thanks to Jean-Claude Raimbault for his book Les disparus du XXe / Les 10 000 mots disparus et les 18 000 mots apparus au XXe siècle. Thank you to the illuminated performers. A warm thank you to the inhabitants of Centre-sud in Montreal. Photo: Julie Faubert, Guillermo López-Pérez, Camille Grésillier.