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Michel Huneault
Joannie Lafrenière

Lieu d’exposition
/ Exhibition place

Place Ville Marie Sous-sol / Underground, œuvre / artwork n°11
photography | print


Michel Huneault is a documentary photographer and visual artist. His work focuses on development, trauma, migration and other geographically complex realities, including climate change. He holds a master’s degree from UC Berkeley, where he was a Rotary Peace Fellow, studying the role of collective memory after large-scale traumatic events. Before devoting himself to photography, he worked in international development for more than a decade.

His work on the Lac-Mégantic train disaster won the 2015 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize. In 2016, his project Post Tohoku, focusing on the effects of the tsunami in Japan, was nominated for the Prix Pictet and received the Prix Antoine-Désilets. In 2018, he adapted Roxham – about asylum seekers crossing the border from the United States to Canada – into a virtual reality experience with the National Film Board of Canada. During the spring and summer of 2020, he was commissioned by the McCord Museum to document the impacts of COVID-19 in Montreal.

Michel lives in Montreal and has received support from the Canada Council for the Arts and from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. His work has been shown internationally, including in France, the United States, Japan, Switzerland, and in the Netherlands.

Approach and works on display

La mémoire de l’eau (2011)

Between June and October 2011, I documented the impact of historic flooding in Venise-en-Québec, located on the shores of Lake Champlain. These floods, which received relentless media coverage, were among the first in Quebec to be associated with climate change, a proposition that still faced considerable resistance in the public and political spheres at the time.

These diptychs illustrate the extent of the spring floods and the state of affairs during the subsequent summer and autumn. Employing the visual strategy of ‘’before & after” – often used by the media in covering disasters of much greater magnitude – these images also raise questions about the perception and representation of events in relation to our geographical or cultural proximity.

Today, in the wake of one flood after another across the country, these photographs continue to question the still irresistible desire to inhabit fragile riverside areas. Could the new climatic reality be an opportunity to rethink our relationship with shorelines in a more sustainable and equitable way?


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