Cohabitation: commune mesure? was part of an ambitious trilogy of exhibitions presented by Axe Néo-7 Centre d’artistes, Hull-Gatineau (2002-2004), curated by Stéphane Bertrand, a landscape architect. Crossing disciplines, each exhibition invited visual artists, architects, landscape architects from Ontario and Québec to work on independent projects presented inside and outside La Filature complex. Deborah Margo’s work was entitled La détente and was inspired by vernacular gardens found in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.
In the spring of 2004, Margo began gathering the materials needed to construct a series of fifteen structures that were to support then germinating scarlet runner bean and golden hops vines. On various garbage collection days, she found a wide assortment of vertical members such as hockey sticks, brooms, lamps, crutches, mops, and ski poles. Working next to Brewery Creek immediately adjoining La Filature on a vacant piece of land whose soil consisted primarily of bricks and gravel, the more than three meter high structures were erected and the soil amended to allow for the planting of the young vines.
From May to early November, Margo tended La détente, collecting a fine crop of beans at the end of the season. To continue the project, bean seeds and planting instructions were given to interested individuals as well as disseminated via a centerfold of an Ottawa-based food magazine, Burnt Toast, with a cross-country distribution of nine hundred. To date there have been sightings of second generation beans growing in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, western Canada and the Maritimes.