Secret Nothing to Begin the New Year

A glorious day ushered in the new year, and taking advantage of slightly warmer temperatures, I hustled my behind back to the river to smile at the sky and take in the incredible view.

St-Laurent River in January

This day’s walk turned out to be magical too; people and animals were particularly friendly with everything sparkling under the brilliant sun.

Although I try to do this walk daily, making it out here with that kind of regularity is a challenge. But as 2017 slowly begins, I resolve to keep trying to find that time – to make that time – to zone out, wind down, contemplate, and daydream along the water… in sunshine, grey skies, snow and yes, even rain.

Doing Nothing on New Year’s Eve

…Well, that’s not exactly true. Depending on what your definition of Nothing is (which, as this project keeps pointing out, is an ever-shifting and debatable matter).

I’ll actually be spending it with Quakers. And New Years day with Buddhists. Now these people know how to Do Nothing! (More on that in a future post).

For now, I wish to pass on some thoughts that were shared with me, while at the round-table discussion with DARE-DARE a few weeks ago. During my presentation I handed out blank cards and asked our guests to complete the following sentence:
“When I do nothing I ___________.”
“Quand je ne fais rien je ___________.”

Here are some of the responses:









…And how about you?

…On that note, wishing one and all a peaceful and hope-filled 2017.
May you Do Nothing as often as you need, in whatever frame of mind you find yourself to be, with as much joy and kindness as you can offer to yourself.

Doing Nothing with DARE-DARE: Round Table at La Société des Rendez-vous


Although The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred continues on (in an official capacity) with DARE-DARE till next spring, the year-end wrap-up of the centre’s programming for the 2016-2017 season takes place this Saturday Dec. 10, 2016, a time when their invited artists come together to discuss findings with a guest moderator.

DARE-DARE proposed to focus its 2016-17 season around the notions of the collective and the Common, with Rendez-Vous Society as a title. They invited artists to base their interventions on common, day-to-day realities and intervene in the social environment through projects that generate meetings and which address the concepts of exchanges, transmission and sharing.

Sylvaine Chassay, Maggy Flynn, Roberto Santaguida, the trio formed of Ilya Krouglikov, Sarah Dell’Ava and Wolfram Sander and yours truly are the artists of this ongoing programming. To discuss our respective projects, they invited the philosopher Erik Bordeleau who will act as moderator and theorist on the issues encountered during the last year.

Round table and open discussion
Saturday Dec. 10, 2016, 3pm-5pm
Les Ateliers Jean Brillant
3520 St-Jacques, Montreal


Pour sa programmation 2016-2017, DARE-DARE a proposé un cadre de travail autour des notions du collectif et de la communauté, sous le titre La Société des Rendez-vous. Ils ont fait appel aux artistes pour inscrire l’art dans le quotidien et s’immiscer dans l’environnement social à travers des projets qui génèrent des rencontres et qui abordent les notions d’échanges, de transmission et de partage.

Sylvaine Chassay, Maggy Flynn, Roberto Santaguida, le trio formé d’Ilya Krouglikov, Sarah Dell’Ava et Wolfram Sander, et moi même, sont les artistes de cette programmation 2016-2017. Pour discuter de nos pratiques respectives, ils ont invité le philosophe Erik Bordeleau qui agira comme modérateur et théoricien des enjeux rencontrés durant la dernière année.

Retrouvons-nous aux Ateliers Jean Brillant à 15h, pour deux heures de table-ronde ouverte à la discussion et au partage des expériences.

C’est prouvé, ne rien faire est vital pour notre cerveau

… Or so says the article of this same title above in a recent blog posting in BIO à la une.

Author Elodie Sillaro goes on to say: “Alors que tout va plus vite dans nos sociétés modernes, on manque cruellement de temps et on est en proie à ce sentiment d’urgence permanent. Souvent mal vu, le fait de ne rien faire nous est pourtant vital ! Et, ce sont les scientifiques qui le disent.”

She continues by also asserting how important it is for our brain to regenerate itself and that this can only happen when we manage to tear ourselves away from our cell phones, tablets, etc., and stop always trying to make ourselves busy.

I know that at this point I’m repeating myself (because at this point you’ve heard/read me say similar things in previous postings) but I feel as though I/we can’t repeat it enough. Clearly, I’m a convert. Or at least still struggling with the same issues that this author is mentioning in her treatise.

– read more here –

Le Collectif Vierge on Bring Something To Do Nothing

Le Collectif Vierge (Mathilde Rohr and Gabrielle Desrosiers) brought us on a mini trajectory in the area around the DARE-DARE trailer and Atwater Market. Starting seated and serene at the busy intersection in front of DARE-DARE, the “Something” they brought “To Do Nothing,” came in the form of their wooden rocking chairs – a device-as-object that for them has come to represent a moment of pause (in all kinds of situations and contexts).

After lolling about at their first stop, we made our way to the overpass of the Atwater Tunnel, during which time Le Collectif decided to stop and, this time standing on their chairs, observe oncoming traffic. To our surprise, a young boy passing by with his mom insisted that he too get to see what the two ladies were looking at. The mom, suddenly confused, turned to me and asked: “What’s going on?” “Not a whole lot,” I answered. “But, it’s nice to sometimes take the time to notice what you don’t usually bother to stop and see.” … That seemed to satisfy her and she hoisted the kid up to the same height as the railing so he too, could look at nothing with us. After a few moments he seemed sated so off they went, continuing on their way…

At the same spot, just as the two were dismounting their chairs (only a few moments after the boy and his mom left) a man suddenly fell, tripping on something on the sidewalk – a sight that startled all of us. He smoothly rolled into the fall and just as elegantly stood himself upright. We offered that he sit in one of the chairs in case he was shaken but he kindly declined. “My shoulder hurts a bit, but I just left the house to go for my walk. Sitting would kind of defeat the purpose…” And although his fall was apparently caused by the unusual sight of the two on their chairs (so he said), clearly his pause was about being in movement, fall or no fall. Happily he didn’t seem offended (for this action kind of instigated his mini accident) but more bemused. Fortunately he didn’t sustain any injuries.

The trajectory then brought us over to the canal with stops at various sites along the water and the train tracks. Graced with a beautiful sunset, families of ducks and passing trains in the distance, this moment of collective downtime brought yet another element to light: as Soufïa, a participant in the conversation that followed said, “Avec le rien faire, il y a le ‘être avec’.” This “being with” (quiet, curiosity, even small accidents) could then occur (and be welcomed) with a plenitude of time, presence, and gracious acceptance.

John Boyle-Singfield is Creating Nothing

John Boyle-Singfield

Montreal-based John Boyle-Singfield is creating nothing as part of a “fund my life” project being carried out through Patreon.

He writes: “You have located your browser on a crowdfunding web page where, each month, I give to contributors a private video of my own inactivity. For example, if a person contribute 3$ per month, she-he will receive a one minute video file of me doing nothing but looking at the camera. Other contributions of 30min/month at 180$ and 60min/month at 600$ are also available.

Thanks to this project and it’s amazing participants, I will be able to distribute up to 111 videos representing 460 minutes of “doing nothing” each month, for a total of 92 hours per year. (1332 videos!)

My Story:

I am an artist living in Montreal. My work echoes a society in which the effects of technology and late capitalism have been absorbed into our bodies and altered our vision of the world. I’m particularly interested in new media by constructing complex conceptual projects and critical discourse on technology. I began my artistic practice in 2010 and I intend to continue doing so as long as possible.

Nota Bene: this “creating nothing” is more about a refusal to produce according to standard canons of cultural production. From a personal point of view, it will be the opposite because I will send a intimate video of me, each month, to anyone willing to contribute to this adventure.”

Brilliant, John!

– read more here –

Stephan US: Nothing Will Have Happened


German artist Stephan Us has just opened what he calls a transforming exhibition in Muenster, Germany. Done in collaboration with other artists, Nothing Will Have Happened runs this November–December, 2016.

He writes: “For over 15 years, I have been working on the subject of nothing and cultivating the world’s only “Archive of Nothing”. This year, under the title “Ich tue Nichts – I do nothing”, I carry this nothing into everyday life. In 366 daily self-examinations, performances, interventions, or actions carried out by small changes, I explore the nothingness and its relatives like silence, emptiness, absence, zero … the vacancies in the systems.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Archive of Nothing, which contains more than 2900 media, I will explore this Nothing in collaboration with numerous artists, people and visitors in a constantly changing exhibition. No one will be able to see anything, but many will see nothing. “Nothing will have been” in the exhibition hall “Am Hawerkamp” tries to make this ephemeral, often fragile state of nothingness, this in-between, this perhaps unspeakable in installations, performances, objects, ascertainable and incarnate… – success and failure inclusive.

No one will be able to see anything, but many will see nothing.”

(The picture above is part of Us’ collaboration: Montreal-artist Evelyne Bouchard printed up a copy of the slogan, “I do nothing,” (in French) as requested by Us, which was then brought up to Mont-Royal during the Sweet Nothings in October walk, to now be photographed by DARE-DARE’s Martin Dufrasne who came on the walk. The pic was then sent back to Us to be entered into his continually growing “Archive of Nothing.” Convoluted but lovely, right?)

– read more here –

Talking About Nothing With… Parlons de rien avec… Le Collectif Vierge (Montreal)

Public Forum About Nothing Presents: Talking About Nothing With

Le Collectif Vierge
Le Collectif Vierge

Le Collectif Vierge
Dec. 2 from 3 – 5pm / 2 déc 2016 de 15h à 17h
La roulotte de DARE-DARE trailer
Intersection Atwater, Greene & Doré devant le marché / in front of the market

As part of the yearlong project, The Sanctimonious Sect of Nothing Is Sacred, I am inviting artists, researchers, thinkers, and practitioners of various disciplines – both within and outside of the arts – to present their reflections in an open format around the question of Doing Nothing.

The second in the series of informal discussions welcomes a performative and participatory action by Montreal-based Collectif Vierge entitled: “Bring Something To Do Nothing”

“In a society where value is given to tangible productivity and efficaciousness, we are questioning our relationship to non-action and to nothingness. Is it actually okay to do nothing?

During our first project, Les Berceuses, our rocking chairs have become our object of transition towards this nothingness. Our pretext is to re-place the rhythm of slowness and reflection in places where it is not supposed to be. Our companions in order to acknowledge the benefits and the values of nothingness.

This new non-event is an invitation to activate the nothing inside us; to let it become something through the use, or non-use, of an object. Together, we will experiment and question why and how those objects allow us to do nothing. Is it actually nothing? What does this nothing activate inside and around you?

**When you’re doing nothing what do you do? What do you use? Bring this thing with you!”

Artists’ bio
Collectif Vierge is born from the meeting of two visual artists (Mathilde Rohr et Gabrielle Desrosiers) during a Montreal performance festival. While they each have their own artistic approach related to different mediums, they meet together in the practice of performance art. Vierge (virgo) underlines their shared astrological sign, but vierge here also refers to the blank page (la page vierge) or the virgin forest. They question and place value on the notion of dérive (drifting), as well as the everything within the nothing, the emptiness before the creation, the silence before the density.


Le Collectif Vierge est invité dans le cadre des Présentations publiques sur le rien qui s’inscrivent dans le cadre du projet L’édifiante secte de rien (n)’est sacré qui se déroule sur un an.

Je convie des artistes, et practicien.nes de diverses disciplines [artistiques ou extra-artistiques] à présenter leur réflexions durant une série de discussions informelles sur la question du Rien Faire. La formule est complètement ouverte, ce qui permet à chaque conférencier.ère de prévoir la manière dans laquelle il ou elle désire aborder le sujet et engager l’auditoire.

La deuxième dans la série comprend une action performative, et participative offert par Le Collectif Vierge : “Quelque chose pour rien-faire”

“Dans une société où la valeur est attribuée à la production du tangible et à l’efficacité, nous questionnons ici notre rapport à la non-action et au rien-faire. Est-t-il en fait correct de ne rien faire ?

Au cours de notre premier projet, Les Berceuses, nos chaises berçantes sont devenues des objets de transition vers le rien, notre prétexte pour réintégrer le rythme de la lenteur, de la réflexion et de l’état d’observation dans des environnements où il n’a pas lieu d’être. Elles se sont révélées être nos complices pour reconnaître les bénéfices et les valeurs du rien.

Ce nouveau non-évènement est une invitation à activer notre rien intérieur et à le laisser devenir quelque chose à travers l’utilisation, ou la non-utilisation, d’un objet. Ensemble, nous expérimenterons et questionnerons pourquoi et comment ces objets nous autorisent à ne rien faire. Est-ce vraiment rien ? Qu’est ce que ce rien active à l’intérieur et autour de nous ?

**Quand vous ne faites rien, que faites-vous ? Qu’utilisez vous ? Apportez cette chose avec vous !”

Bio des artistes
Le Collectif Vierge est né d’une rencontre entre deux artistes visuels (Mathilde Rohr et Gabrielle Desrosiers) lors d’un festival d’art action montréalais. Ayant chacune leur parcours personnel issu de médiums différents, elles se retrouvent dans la pratique de l’art performance. Vierge pour leur signe astrologique commun, mais aussi vierge telle la page vierge ou la forêt vierge. Elles questionnent et valorisent la dérive ainsi que le tout qui se trouve dans le rien, le vide avant la création, le silence avant la densité.

FR :
EN :

Have We Forgotten How to Rest?


University of the Streets Café in Montreal has an upcoming discussion I’m particularly excited about: “Have We Forgotten How to Rest?”

They write:
“Rest can be tricky in large busy pluralist urban environments where individuals and small groups create modular, individualistic ways of ‘unplugging’ to suit their own tastes and styles of down-time. With the decline of religiously prescribed rest, what does it look like today compared to before? Many of us don’t engage in substantial down-time when we continue to ‘connect’ to through technology from home, on vacation, etc. Is the concept of rest simply different or has something important been lost? This conversation will consider where and how we are seeking rest? Can we survive/thrive without it? Are we really resting when we think we are…?”

…Think I’ll plan to be there.

Thursday Nov 24, 7 – 9pm
Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom
4100 Sherbrooke Rue O, Montreal

*Image source: