Garter snake

  • Arkadi Lavoie Lachapelle
Saturday 16th december, from 9 am to 5 pm

An envelope was sent to my home in November. I opened it: an egg with a nascent bronze-tinted cardboard snake sprang up like a pop-up. The invitation is from performer and poet arkadi lavoie lachapelle: this is not her first egg deposited as an offering on the threshold of a door1. An artist and a feminist, creating multidisciplinary (performance, objects, poetry, photo) and interdisciplinary works (for Couleuvre, she worked with two biologists), arkadi refreshes the way of making art. Her adventure at CIRCA art actuel has several performative, participatory and interactive stages. It’s a festival. I detect a celebration of life’s forces. The various states of the new “cool oeuvre”2 being: a corridor-like serpent-woman, moving on castors, and whose body, consisting of a hundred office chairs lent by the Belgo Building’s tenants, besieges the common area; she bears clothes made of real and fake scaly skins, showing a taste in fashion for the perfect reptile design, the leatherwear that it inspires and its excessive historical commercialization; engineering children build a castle of mirrors on a reptilian carpet; a cabinet of curiosities displays artefacts related to the snake’s existence; and on the sidewalk, a sister accomplice offers a witch’s soup to passers-by.



The word “couleuvre” is soft. It resonates with œuvre, manœuvre, œuf, chœur, cœur, sœur, (work, manoeuver, egg, choir, heart, sister), which are significant words in the artist’s vocabulary. The words all display the mark of the “Œ,” a sign coiled in on itself like a warm reptile on the tongue. It is called ligature in typography. Snakes become live ligature during the long moments of their elegant copulations in a danced parade: A fantastic choreographic track for several bodies without arms or legs. Moving without limbs would involve playing the hips and the head, eyes, ears and mouth. Precisely, this little flat face incorporates a bifid tongue, GPS power, which guarantees total presence: a knowledgeable performer could not do without such inspiration. Flow work, flow! Let’s dance, dance!

-Text by Sylvie Cotton


1. I will let you do research for the details of the artist’s clandestine intervention at the MACM entrance on the morning of January 17, 2010.

2.Arkadi, like me, is fond of word play: this is her play on coulevre/cool œuvre.

Born the year the Berlin Wall came down and the Polytechnic massacre took place, I sometimes wonder if we come from the future, if “a child menu to take away please,” is pedophilia and if queer people have magical powers. Currently, my post-academic life is influenced by the collective energy of the 2012 student movement, the complexity of intersectional feminism and a profound spiritual experience. 

My action art practice, whether it occurs in a public space, in a gallery or at conferences, cultivates the paradox of the performative gesture: a transformative energizing gift that can both disturb and upset the established order of things and enrich the body, mind and heart. Since 2010, my artistic adventures, at times anonymous and clandestine, have been produced at home and abroad in Russian and European cities, big and small. I am involved in organizing various events, such as the Montreal festival VIVA! Art action where I am a member of the board of directors and I also am a collaborator on the “Journée sans culture.”