“The collective impatience is palpable. From the oesophagus to the large intestine, from the hamstring to the soles of the feet, and from the cervical vertebrae to the amygdala, deep breathing no longer eases our tension—in fact, it’s even discouraged.”
Verticale — centre d’artistes (VCA) invites artists, collectives, and curators to submit proposals as part of its biennial programming call for 2021–23 titled “Fermentation, science and fiction.” VCA seeks to anchor itself in the fertile upheavals of the present and in the projection of an uncertain, although imminent, future. It knows that, both at home and elsewhere, in the slowness and isolation of this moment, certain processes have begun. These latent transformations, both interior and exterior, only appear to be inactive.
For example, while VCA has been operating offsite since 2011 and presenting works outside of the usual gallery context, we’ve also been working toward the construction of a new gallery space for 2025[1,2,3]. This major project, which has already impacted the organization from within, has also been a major catalyst: we expect that the extra and intramural rearrangement of our programming components gives it new substance. In the meantime, we’re preparing ourselves by imagining (why not?) something of a more porous nature:
After discovering his ability to walk through walls, the Passe-muraille decides to have a little fun. Relegated to working in a closet, the bureaucrat embarks on a series of burglaries from which he effortlessly escapes, while also thwarting a number of new reforms at work. And so, what if, like the bureaucrat, we could walk through walls instead of running into them? Have intramural practices become a kind of team sport, and is the extramural more like science-fiction? What about our own homes, which suddenly seem more narrow, their curtains more opaque? How can we deal with the growing urge to seek refuge between the wallpaper and the glue?
A multitude of species thrive in the dark and narrow cavities of the earth’s crust and inside living beings. The earthwormdigs subterranean tunnels up to two metres deep, where it feeds on earth and organic debris. The mole is a solitary, burrowing animal that eats the earthworms it meets along its path. Billions of anaerobic bacteria that thrive in dark, airless environments live in the warm and cozy crevasses of our colon. And while the troglodyte[8,9] can buy light therapy lamps and watch theatre on the web, his home is still buried deep within the rock. Even he isn’t immune to the potential environmental, political, and social degradation that looms on the surface.
Rather than succumbing to these depths, why not embrace them? Why not take advantage of this power outage to recharge our solar panels above ground? Why not adjust our expectations, shape them as we see fit, and transform them into fuel?
Before imagining what comes next, let’s give ourselves the freedom to consume this moment, to chew on it long and hard and draw out its wonderful sap. Let it decompose, macerate it, ferment it, and allow the visions to emerge. Until we can all share indoor space again, until we can choose between inside, outside, and what unites the two, let’s fully invest in the fullness of the present to help our futures proliferate.
 Since 2011, Verticale’s relocation project has been led by the Regroupement d’organismes culturels et d’artistes lavallois (ROCAL), of which VCA is one of the founding members.
 In the fall of 2020, the City of Laval began the draft-design studies for the construction project: https://www.laval.ca/Pages/Fr/Nouvelles/construction-infrastructure-culturelle.aspx
 Major investments from the province are planned for Laval to stimulate the economic relaunch post-pandemic: https://courrierlaval.com/quebec-investira-a-coup-de-centaines-de-millions-a-laval/
 A short story by the French author Marcel Aymé, published in 1941, and the title of a collection of short stories including Les Sabines, La Carte, Les bottes de sept lieues and En attendant. Read it here (in French): http://franceinfo.us/03_books/books/ayme_passe_muraille.pdf
 The earthworm is featured in this poem by Jacques Roubaud: http://etoile2poles.free.fr/acro/le%20lombric.pdf
 See the mole in action here! https://youtu.be/Sa7_Vnho-iw
 Along with viruses, parasites, and fungi, these bacteria make up the intestinal microbiota, which plays an essential role in the body’s digestive, metabolic, immune, and neurological functions: https://www.inserm.fr/information-en-sante/dossiers-information/microbiote-intestinal-flore-intestinale
 Residents of the city of Uçhisar, Turkey, live in dwellings carved directly into the Kale mountain (castle mountain).
 Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Italian city of Matera is built in natural caves that humans have occupied since the Paleolithic era.
 Maceration is the process of allowing a solid to remain in a liquid for a long period of time to extract soluble compounds or to absorb the liquid. Cucumbers macerate in vinegar, sardines in oil, and microfossils in acid. Orange wines, natural wines, and sparkling wines (Pét-Nat) are quite popular.
 Fermentation is the action of micro-organisms that transform sugar into alcohol, vinegar, or gas.
The Clubs — 8e édition
Première rencontre — Club plastique
Deuxième rencontre — Club vidéo
Troisième rencontre — Club de lecture
All past thematic programming
Fermentation, science and fiction — 2021—23
Turmoil, Agitation, and Systems — 2020—21
Clan, Destiny and Clandestinity — 2019—20
Travel and the Oniric — 2018—19
Occult Powers and Ritual Territories — 2017—18