Model Homes

2004 – 2007

The images in this series were constructed using photographs of suburban houses and model homes. This body of work is presented as an investigation into contemporary suburbs, but it also paints a portrait of our society.

The new suburbs are no longer just soulless places – anonymous, standardized and uniform – they have in fact developed their own identities. But these identities are fashioned from whole cloth, like movie sets. Vast tracts of land are now placed in the hands of developers, whose vision is inspired by the strategies of commerce. Developments usually have no connection to the original context of the sites where they are built, they are amalgams of cultural, imaginary and borrowed identities.

The housing in these places suffers the same fate and is full of grafted-on symbols and references to histories that have nothing to do with our own. We are witness to the appearance of simulated villages, a style that could be called fake-authentic, a pastiche of vanished ways of life. Picturesque features are fabricated, pseudo-heritage values are invented and the target is clients who like to think they are buying something special with a local flavour. Some people even think that these artificial landscapes are real, leading to confusion between what is really part of our cultural heritage and what is only the market value of substitution. This generates false perceptions of who we are.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I started this project. I photographed different types of dwellings, modest homes as well as more upscale residences. They mainly come from the new housing developments popping up on the periphery of Montreal , and from the facilities of a pre-fab home manufacturer. A computer graphics program was used to alter each house and then re-position it in a new context. Similarities can be drawn between my virtual models and the models found in the catalogues and websites of contractors. The composition and framing are similar and my models also have women’s names (a common practice in this industry.) My locations, however, are much more disturbing and strange, even disconcerting… The goal here is not to shape things in order to attract a clientele, but rather to attract critical attention to this phenomenon. Each of my models is a portrait that develops a different aspect of the relationship between our societies and the land they use. These houses thus model the way we really inhabit the world.

10 large format images