Fiona Annis, Safe light (la lampe inactinique), 2024

[Permanent installation]

Safe Light (la lampe inactinique), 2024

Luminous element on the building façade

The Guido Molinari Foundation is located in the former Banque d’Épargne de la Cité et du District de Montréal building, constructed in 1927-1928. At the time of its construction, this section of Sainte-Catherine Street East was used for both commercial and residential purposes. The bank’s mission was to encourage savings among the neighborhood’s less fortunate, targeting French-Canadian working-class families, most of whom had many children. On the façade of the building, the Bank’s logo is carved in stone. Reproducing a beehive, it was intended as a reminder of the virtue of work. Over time, the façade has lost some of its ornamental details, notably the clock set in grey stone above the lintel of the main entrance door. However, a small beehive carved into the stone is still visible, a symbol that reminds us of the site’s past.

As part of her residency in winter 2024, artist Fiona Annis designed a luminous work for the façade of the building, integrated into the oculus formerly occupied by the clock. She inlaid this circular niche with a delicate amber light, in reference to the inactinic lamp used to develop photographs in the darkroom. Practitioners of darkroom photography call this type of bulb a “safe light”, since it allows safe handling of photosensitive paper during darkroom development. With this unobtrusive intervention, the artist is showing his kindness to visitors to the Foundation, neighbors, local residents and all those passers-by who, at dusk, work in a wide variety of occupations.