I first found out about Montreal photographer Benoit Aquin 2 years ago, when he won the Prix Pictet 2008, the most prestigious photography award in the world. For this Prize, sponsored by the Pictet Bank, Aquin submit pictures of the Chinese Dust Bowl – although the theme of the contest was water.
His beautiful images, taken in colour, were reduced to almost ‘’sepia-coloured daguerrotypes by the muffling, choking dust’’, I wrote in vie des arts. Benoit Aquin’s new photographs are again full of dust. But it is a grey dust, from fallen, cracked and broken concrete: the aftermath of the earthquake in Haïti. Galerie Pangée is presenting this series – Haïti after the Earthquake, Aquin’s second solo show which was exhibited this summer at the Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne (Switzerland). Aquin went to Haïti as a volunteer with CECI immediately after the earthquake and then returned four months later. Most of his photos were taken at night – hence the blue-grey dusk shades that bathe each detail. Aquin’s attention to each element in his frame suggests a documentary approach. Even in the spontaneity of a joyous soccer game, or the horror of a crumpled home, his images have a formality. Their crisp complexity of detail draws the viewer in. You are there.
Aquin’s work is part of private and public collections in Canada, the United States, and Europe, and in the permanent collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (Ottawa), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Quebec (Quebec City) and the National Archives of Canada. A percentage of proceeds from the sale of the photographs will be given to the CECI’s humanitarian efforts in Haiti. The prints are more than worth a visit. You have to buy one if you can.
40 St. Paul Street (just west of St. Laurent)
Métro: Place D’Armes
Until October 11, 2010