|DÉPAYSER (TERRITOIRES ET CITOYENS SOUS HAUTE-TENSION)
Current project - ongoing (selected photos)
|Dépayser (Territoires et citoyens sous haute tension) [Strange Land (territories and citizens under high tension)] examines with a critical eye how hydroelectric power has transformed the landscape of Quebec. These landscapes often go unnoticed, perhaps because they have occupied our territory for such a long time, but when one knows how to capture it, their incongruity is astonishing. Using photographs taken in several regions of the province, this work testifies to the struggles of citizens confronted with the development of that industry. The project pays attention to how citizens have rallied in order to defend their region and to demand better protection for their environment. It is a politically committed project which looks at the ways we occupy and manage the land.
"Dépayser" means literally to take someone out of a country and make her/him inhabit another one; it also means to cause disorientation so that a person does not know where she/he is anymore. This is what those people are experiencing, whose land has been invaded by electric towers or submerged to create a reservoir for a dam. It is a bizarre feeling: that of being at home but in an environment to which they have become estranged. It participates in the generalized loss of familiar landmarks that has become a constant in these days of accelerated development.
Hydroelectric power has extensively moulded (and disfigured) the landscape of Quebec. That industry was nationalized at the beginning of the 1960s for the common good, but today this state corporation - Hydro-Québec - manages its resources more like a private corporation. It subverts the democratic process by organizing bogus consultations, financing environmental studies that conclude in its favour, and acting as a state within a state to impose its law. Currently, several citizens groups are meeting to courageously denounce that situation. These people come from different backgrounds: farmers, livestock producers, vacationers, leftist politicians, public figures... One goal unites them and it is to stop new high voltage transmission lines on their land and in their communities. These projects are often unnecessary or geared toward the exportation of electricity and do not benefit the community. In a political climate that sees public institutions dismantled, the task of defending their land befalls to groups of citizens abandoned by a government obsessed with economic development.
Hydro Quebec lines built in troubled waters