Our Shepherds – Nos Bergers

by Patrick Bérubé

 

 

It is a gorgeous day. Perfect for a stroll through the Byward Market. Maruschka and Astrid have just passed the courtyard with the statue of a dancing bear when they stop in the middle of what is called the Tin House Courtyard. A bright-blue statue of two faceless men standing on the back of sheep bars their way.

 

“What is this?” Astrid pulls a face. “This is how I feel when confronted with contemporary art. The two figures are the artists who lead me by the nose and make fun of me. And I am the stupid sheep that does not understand what they are trying to say.”

 

Maruschka laughs. “I cannot imagine an artist openly making fun of his audience. Let’s see what the plaque says.” They both read it in silence.

 

Astrid speaks first. “See, I was right. The two men with their long noses are liars, like Pinoccio. Only they are representing politicians and the voters are the sheep, being lied to and led by the nose.”

 

“Wow, don’t we know about that! Look at all the populist parties springing up in Europe and everywhere else.”

 

“What a fascinating piece. A powerful statement about propaganda, election campaigns and even my interpretation about conceptual art which always seems to provoke and anger me. Why is a violin painted green by Joseph Bueys suddenly art?”

 

Maruschka smiles. Astrid has ranted about conceptual art many times before. “What do you think about the colour? Did it have to be such a garish, tacky blue?”

 

“Hmmm, it certainly grabs your attention this way. Look at the various pieces of art we have walked by without a glance and here we stopped because in this colour it is impossible to be overlooked.”

 

Maruschka shrugs. “Yeah, but it still offends my sense of aesthetics. Could not the sheep at least have been white, to show their innocence and how easily they can be lied to?”

 

Astrid nods in agreement. “I agree, I hate the colour too as much as I hate the lies politicians dish out. Think of Boris Johnson who told the British public how much the country was paying into the European Union but not how much it received from the EU.”

 

“What about the sheep, though? “Maruschka points at the motionless sheep representing the masses.“ They can be blamed too. Why do voters allow themselves to be seduced by promises that usually will not be kept, or by the good looks of a politician?I think people ought to take a course before they are allowed to vote. Yes, there are candidates’ meetings and websites but who bothers? People don’t take their right to vote  seriously enough.”

 

Astrid takes a photo of the piece. “Well, the artist has done a great job. He has intrigued us, made us think, annoyed us and grabbed our attention. It is a good thing it will stay here until 2021 when another Canadian artist gets a chance to show his or her work. Let’s have a coffee before we go on.”

 

Note: Patrick Bérubé is a Montreal artist who has shown his work at a number of national and international exhibitions and major events.