‘La Leçon’ (‘The Lesson’) – Montreal, Québec - Atlas Obscura
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‘La Leçon’ (‘The Lesson’)

Immortalized in bronze, this frazzled student will be glued to his screen for centuries. 

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It’s hard to use a keyboard in a blizzard. But even on the grisliest of winter days, there’s always at least one student lost in a laptop near the grand entrance gates of McGill University in Montreal.

With a fruit-branded notebook, fast food strewn at his feet, and one shoelace undone, the bronze sculpture titled “La Leçon” (“The Lesson”) is a heavy-handed lampoon of student life. It’s the creation of artist Cédric Loth, who has also worked as a creative director and cartoonist. The sculpture is littered with little jokes, from the laptop’s pear-shaped logo (in French, “poire” means “a gullible person”) to the squirrel swiping a hamburger bun. The distressed student’s slick haircut seems to droop in despair. As if his day couldn’t get any worse, his browser window bears the news “Steve Jobs est mort” (Steve Jobs is dead)!

Placing such a crass caricature across from the entrance of one of Canada’s most prestigious universities might be seen as a prank. Indeed, since its unveiling in 2012, the statue has occasionally been counterattacked by vandals. Someone tried to saw off one of its fingers, and his browser window was once replaced by an error message warning “too much time on social media!”

With its tiny trackpad and generous array of ports, the student’s laptop already seems a little dated. You have to wonder how this disheveled bronze buffoon will be seen a hundred years from now, when he could very well still be failing upwards at the corner of Sherbrooke and McGill College Avenue.