This inquiry has its point of departure in a personal experience. For over twenty years, I have lived by the shores of a river that has become very polluted. I have long been observing the transformations of this stream, the changes in its ecosystems as well as the disappearance of some of the animal species that used to live in it. I wished to create a body of work that would bear witness to these man-made upheavals. Ecological disasters such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the garbage slates forming on the oceans are becoming more frequent. Massive urbanization and industrialization have resulted in impoverished bio-diversity; they also bring risks for human health. The declining state of bodies of water certainly counts among the most worrisome environmental issues.

During a stay in southern Florida in 2008, I made some exploratory shots with a small submersible camera. Leaving crystal-clear waters to vacationers, I preferred to capture the turbid waters of navigation canals. Since then, I have acquired a watertight tank that allows me to photograph underwater environments of all kinds. I dive into troubled waters of dubious, uncertain origin. Underwater worlds are fascinating and spellbinding; seductive images of tropical seas readily come to mind. What I seek to show is something altogether different, as my work plays on the sense of wonder usually associated with underwater shooting.

The aquatic landscapes I probe are often been altered. They are sometimes actual deserts where nothing is left to see. The images I capture bear witness to this absence. I have observed dying ecosystems near New Jersey’s Chemical Coast and the marine cemetery of Rossville (Staten Island), where the shortage of dissolved oxygen is making life precarious. These desolate expanses are sometimes suffused in a wavering light endowing them with a strange, disturbing beauty. I photograph them from an unfamiliar vantage point, eschewing capture from shoulder height. These views from the inside create a relation of closeness between the onlooker and the site being documented. They take us closer to these environments by plunging us in their midst, as it were.

Up to now, I have taken shots in various lakes, rivers, swamps and in the sea. I have documented the Florida Keys, the Louisiana bayous, the Gulf of Mexico, The New York Bay and other areas. More than fifty large format images have been created. This project was mostly developed during artist residencies at A Studio In The Woods / Tulane University (New Orleans), Rauschenberg Residency (Captiva Island, Florida), The Studio of Key West (Florida) and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology (Oregon).

A body of work of a hundred large format images.

Desert Shores

(Lost America)

Salton Sea is a large salt lake located on the San Andreas Fault, in an arid depression of Southwestern California, 227 feet below sea level. It was accidentally created at the beginning of the last century when the Colorado River overflowed its banks. It was a very popular tourist attraction in the 1950s and 1960s, and a paradise for fishing aficionados. Its shores were dotted by numerous hotels, marinas and yacht clubs. The area then underwent significant economic and population growth.

Towards the 1970s, it was observed that the lake’s water level dropped and its salinity rose. The mirage gradually faded… It was replaced by no-man’s lands and ghost towns. Today, the area surrounding the Salton Sea is deserted and desolate; the water is polluted by alluvial deposits saturated with fertilizers and pesticides; algae blooms are decimating the fish. Beach side resorts have given way to trailer parks, home to the poor, the marginalized and Mexican immigrants.

The forlorn landscapes surrounding the Salton Sea are loaded with social, political, environmental and metaphoric implications. They seem to mirror a lost America, an era in which everything seemed possible and accessible for all citizens. These strange lands give us another, unflattering image, of a nation more divided and unequal than ever. These are like other areas of dire poverty found all across the United States, a Third World of their own where the most destitute live for lack of a better alternative.

Nowadays few people care about the Salton Sea and its inhabitants. The area brings in low tax revenue for the State and only the toxic fumes it emits are cause for some concern, since, on windy days, Riverside County, one of California’s richest, is overwhelmed by the smell of death.

Strangeland :

citizens under high tension

This body of work examines with a critical eye how hydroelectric power has transformed the landscape of Quebec. 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.

Hydroelectric power has extensively moulded (and disfigured) our landscapes. That industry was nationalized at the beginning of the 1960s for the common good, but today this state corporation manages its resources more like a private corporation. 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.

A body of work some fifty medium format images.

Strangeland :

Le Camp de la Rivière

This project focuses on the Camp de la Rivière (Camp by the River), a camp occupied by citizens which is located on a logging road leading to the Junex oil exploration site in the Gaspé area (Quebec, Canada). This independent movement for re-appropriating the territory began in 2017 to demand a halt to drilling. The camp remains in place in order to inform the population of the risks of oil and gas exploration and development.

In both Canada and the United States, legislation is supportive of extractivism and the industry is heavily subsidized by public funding, which leads some citizens to organize in order to condemn the situation and to put forward alternative views.

The Camp de la Rivière activists are water conservationists and whistleblowers who are fighting for a cleaner, healthier environment and a fairer society; they are filling the gap left by governments that have let us down.

This body of works is an acknowledgement of these citizens’ commitment, solidarity and selflessness.

A body of work some forty medium format images.


2015 – 2016

Having arrived in France a short time ago, I am in Paris’s Xth arrondissement when the events of Friday the 13th of November 2015 occur. The population is petrified, paralysed. These are not the first attacks it undergoes, but this time, it is the nation that feels under assault. There are knee jerk reactions of exacerbated patriotism… Something is going to change, people say, France will not be as before… There are fears of a right-wing radicalization of the population. While on a photographic mission in Beauvais, I get interested in the after effects of these attacks. I observe the reactions, I listen in on the conversations, I take pictures of what I see, often furtively.

Regularly coming back to Paris, I return to Place de la République and Bataclan, but I also wander elsewhere, to get the pulse of the city and its inhabitants. For instance, I go to the Christmas market at La Défense, a commercial fair that attracts crowds but that is still allowed, unlike popular demonstrations, which are now forbidden. On my way, in the subway, I come across a homeless young man and young woman; they tell me how policemen are taking advantage of the situation to harass them, without apparent reason. They are incredibly nice, I talk with them for quite a while, they tell me about their tough childhoods in Paris suburbs. I also go to Vincennes, at the army recruitment centre, which is receiving a massive influx of applications since the events. The territory is now under high surveillance, security is being reinforced, bags are searched, leather jackets have to be opened, identity cards are being checked, dissidence is repressed, strikes on Syria are intensified… France is afraid, afraid of the other who is hounding her, but just who is this other exactly? I am trying to understand where all this is coming from. Are we really afraid of realizing it is also coming from us?

The night is warm for November, yet Paris is empty. The pleasant breeze that swathes the city stands in strange contrast to the mood of bewilderment prevailing in it. Café terraces are empty, nobody dares to go out, there are many police roadblocks: it’s the state of emergency. It is hard to think of anything else, to speak of anything else. On the Boulevard Voltaire, people gather near the Bataclan. The Place de la République becomes a kind of agora where citizens talk and move around with placards. People are in shock, saddened, they put forward hypotheses, hazard explanations. What has happened appears to be recreating social ties that are cruelly lacking in our societies. These solidarity gatherings are also quickly invaded by the media, tourists and merchants.

The Monument à la République turns into a makeshift memorial. I take pictures of it every day. It is never quite the same: it is done and undone as fresh flowers and new testimonials are added. Photographs, drawings and small posters are put there daily. The rain alters them, deforming the pictures and blurring them, erasing the words, spreading the ink around or making it run down to the ground. In the process, it gives them a new appearance, often more poignant than the original, a kind of battered look.

As I seek to understand how people react to the attacks, I note a resort to republican imagery; but just who are the enemies of the Republic supposed to be? Terrorists born in France… When the police finally brings them under control, does that mean we are in control of everything that goes on backstage? Who is recuperating history and presenting a Manichean view of the world, the better to defend their political and economic interests? “It is too easy and too simple to divide the world up in two”, as Godard said in the documentary Ici et ailleurs (1974). In the XIXth century, France claimed the universalism of her principles by exporting through war; her history has been marked by this political violence. Terrorism is not a new fact in this nation; the term itself is rather ambiguous, shifting according to the vision of the ruling government. In a beautiful text published the day after the attacks (1), journalist Mohamed Lotfi wrote: “The same political leaders who are calling upon us to avoid lumping together Islam and Islamism, and rightly so, are drawing our attention away from the complicity between jihadism and imperialism”; he went on to remind us that, “as with every new horror, the powers that be in politics, the media, the military and security are fostering this diversion.” The ability to strike will create ever more victims, in one camp as in the other, and will mostly kill civilians. Who is benefitting from the cycle of violence? What are the inner workings of today’s wars and what are their real stakes? On March 4 2016, French president François Hollande will award the Legion of Honour to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. At the Élysée palace, Mohammed ben Nayef Al Saud will be given the highest French distinction for his efforts in the struggle against extremism and terrorism… And yet, the Saudi kingdom is a murderous dictatorship.

History is repeating itself… I am thinking of Quatrevingt-treize (Ninety-Three), a dark novel by Victor Hugo set under the Terror, a period characterized by the authoritarianism of the government during the French Revolution. On September 17 1793, the Law of Suspects was voted, marking a clear weakening of respect for individual freedoms. Today, these needful severities are again being imposed… Anyone can be suspected and searched, and a frightened population accepts these measures more easily. How are we to react to terror then? Societies are frozen in fear, which fosters division and carries away reasoning; once a legitimate moment of dread has passed, we have to think together in order to go forward beyond it. “Beaujolais, sausage and Spinoza for everyone”, as one testimonial suggests. “Neither to laughing, nor to cry, but to understand”, as Spinoza wrote.

1) LOFTI, Mohamed, “L’obscurantisme à deux têtes”, ‘Vol de temps’ blog, Voir monthly, Montréal, November 14 2015.

This body of work comprises over a hundred medium format images. It was created in France, in Beauvais and Paris, during an artist residency at Diaphane, Pôle photographique en Picardie, in partnership with Les Rencontres de la photographie en Gaspésie.

Somewhere out of a memory

2012 – 2013

I discovered the Quartier Dix30 and the surrounding real estate developments in the course of a video shoot in Brossard in 2008. It was late November and it was bone-chillingly cold; the barren vistas I was taking in seemed all the more forbidding. I took pictures of these ephemeral landscapes, knowing they would disappear within a few months. These worksites and wastelands are ambiguous: they still show us what was there before, while giving us a sense of what is coming. This in-between state has always interested me, as it bears witness to the upheavals that habitats are undergoing. The mutation of these periurban territories is irrevocably transforming the dynamics of our communities.

I have been there a few times between 2008 and 2013 to document their metamorphoses. On the Chemin des Prairies, farmland is giving way to a field of dwellings. 32,000 hectares of farmland have thus disappeared in the outskirts of Montreal to make way for real estate developments. What is now growing on this fertile soil is luxury houses, so-called “prestige houses” that are often termed “Monster homes”, “McMansions” or ”Starter castle”. You will find there projects such as “Parisian Village” and “Gates of London”; their streets bear names such as “Limoges”, “Liverpool”, “Lausanne”, “Lugano”… One is entitled to wonder what they have to do with local culture (or what is left of it). Between 2008 and 2011,fifteen heritage houses have been demolished; only Monsieur Brossard’s house has been spared amidst this waste. Oddly contrasting with its surroundings, it forms an enclave amidst a series of identical condos. The residents’ peaceful life is also a thing of the past, since the arrival of the vast DIX30 commercial megacomplex has significantly increased car traffic. More recently, new problems have arisen: heat islands, street gangs…

I can still see myself in 2008, filming through the window of the self-consciously “cool” ALT Hotel at dusk. These places look like so many others… I feel a little as if I am in a suburb of Denver or Omaha, in Lorraine or in Repentigny… Inevitably, I come across this territory from “nowhere and everywhere”… And yet, there exists another America, and it is still possible.

17 medium and large formats images. These works were created for “Québec Décapé”, a project curated by l’Espace F (Matane, Québec).

Foreign Body

2012 – 2013

Having arrived in Strasbourg only recently, I spontaneously head toward the European Quarter. Located in the northwest of the city, it covers the Wacken, from the Orangerie to the Robertsau. The area of the city through which I am walking up and down is not all that well-known and gives me the impression that it is somewhat deserted by its own inhabitants. I only come across a few joggers and people out for a walk; in some places however, tourist buses are more numerous. What am I seeking in this rather bland part of town? Perhaps the same things I did in Brussels —another city where the European Parliament has its sessions, in the hope of finding again what I observed and felt a few years back during a research stay.

As I see them, these government quarters have something about them that speaks to us of another Europe, maybe not the one ordinary citizens had dreamed of though. The legitimacy of the European Union was supposed to be based on prosperity and fairness for all. Today, its citizens are called upon to make sacrifices to their standard of living while multinationals are thriving.

Landscape issues, urban issues, social issues play themselves out in those places. Their soulless contemporary architecture looks to me like it is disconnected from the rest of the city. These tall glass buildings, with their cold, rigid lines, seem to have been put there indiscriminately. In these concrete-covered areas, one can espy checkpoints, surveillance cameras, many walls and closed gates reminiscent of cells.

At the Ill Basin, the city is reflected on the mirroring walls of the Parliament building. Strangely enough, this urban silhouette appears to be reflecting another city, perhaps any city, just a city that looks like all the others, a generic city of sorts. Is it really Strasbourg we see in this distorting mirror?

In these places, the specifics of Strasbourg fade and give way to a disembodied urban space. On Rue de la Carpe Haute, the EDQM building stands in sharp contrast to the rustic quarters surrounding it; contemporary architecture jostles with old country houses in an odd stand-off.

On Rue du Levant, the European Court of Human Rights overlooks lowly little gardens. Its overwhelming, invasive presence is a jarring one, clashing with its surroundings. A little further on, on Boulevard Pierre Pflimlin, I am taken aback by its inordinate bulk in relation to the surrounding neighbourhoods. Near the entrance, the colours of the European Union fly. I take pictures of the reflections of these flags as they reverberate on it. To me, they look like they are caught within the building’s structure.

This public institution is the review body for tens of thousands of citizens each year. Some of them even camp right next to it in makeshift shelters. Protesting, waiting or ranting, they live there under the grey November sky. Be they unregularized migrants or mad citizens —some of them literally out of their minds, they all have different stories, which they attempt to tell me in a language I don’t understand. Their presence on these premises becomes for me a more general expression of disenchantment and indignation. They seem to be telling me another story: that of Europe’s deprived, of the marginalized of the global economy we know today.

Final day in Strasbourg. I am taking pictures of the sun’s reflections on the Agora’s glass walls. They mirror back to me an inverted day that looks more like night.

37 images, various sizes. These works were created while artist-in-residence at La Chambre (Strasbourg, France).

Dé-peindre Québec

(ou l’envers du décor)

​2007 – 2008

“When my friends from Europe visited Quebec City, this façade is what impressed them the most. They loved it.” Comment on the Québec Urbain website, a blog about urban development in Quebec City.

Near the historic district of Old Quebec, one can still see the vestiges of the former St-Vincent-de-Paul church, a neo-classical structure left abandoned for some 20 years, then demolished without a permit by a real estate developer. One cannot help but be affected by the sight of this crumbling façade, surrounded by a landscape of urban neglect, next to the gates of the old fortified town. The ruins elicit an ambiguous response, evoking both grandeur and desolation. Their decayed state reminds us of ruins dilapidated by time. This unusual monument gives pause for thought… since what it truly commemorates is the failures of the city’s urban planning policies.

The determination of whether a site is to be protected or not necessarily depends on the thinking of the time, which may seem arbitrary to future generations. Often attention is directed to preserving a slice of History, to the detriment of more popular or more recent local developments. The St-Vincent-de-Paul church bears the stigmata of this reality.

Not far from the church lies the historical heart of Old Quebec, a site designated a World Heritage by Unesco. An important part of this district is given over to tourists and shop owners. Everything is neat and tidy, the new signs are all done in an old-fashioned style, the boutiques sell a great array of local products and souvenirs. The cultural heritage is all dolled up so that the town can display a caricature of “authenticity.” I chose several urban landscapes emblematic of Old Quebec and melded them with the ruins of the old church, thereby associating places of memory, historical architecture and picturesque attractions with a more dissonant form of local colour. Through this close relationship we see the paradoxical effect of a travel industry that helps preserve historical sites while simultaneously lessening their value. Mass tourism abusively monopolizes cultural sites, which can lead to their deterioration and a situation where local communities find it hard to appreciate their own heritage. The off season brings a relative calm that empties the streets and outdoor cafes, but doesn’t restore their true nature. Dressed up to appeal to tourism’s eye, heritage sites invariably look fake. And if the skeletal frame of the church both fascinates and shocks, it may be because it contrasts sharply with the masquerade. It seems to embody an architectural injury that moves us by its truth and exposes the artificiality of the historic district.

Four large format images. These works were created for the « 06 Émissaires, Québec 2008 » project curated by Centre VU (Quebec City).


​2003 – 2004

In the years 2003-2004, I have been working on a series titled Destinations. The series is based on photos of North American tourist attractions, nature preserves and towns. I have documented Cape Cod, the Everglades and the Mohave Desert, among others. Tourism conditions the way we look at the land. It is an industry that grows by creating a vast network of privileged and idealized points of view. By placing multiple sites in conjunction with one another, I make this mediated zone tangible.

Time seems suspended in these tranquil universes. The vast stretches of land are seductive and embody a touch of the sublime; one could almost consider them a magnification of nature. Yet the serenity of these panoramas is feigned; they sow doubt about natural enchantment. The attentive gaze moves within the photograph, noticing the occasional inconsistency. These images are composed of paradoxes and antitheses: that which attracts is always juxtaposed with one or more opposite effects. Situated midway between chaotic urban periphery and postcard, they could be models or plans for disconcerting developments. The viewer becomes intrigued by their strangeness and ambiguity and experiences a reaction that is divided between rejection and fascination.

These landscapes-for-show draw attention to our interest in the grandiose and our ambivalent attitude towards the world: our desire to control it as well as our desire to become immersed in it.

12 large format images.

Être là, là bas, hors de soi

(To be there, over there, outside of oneself)

2006 – 2007

To fabricate a house – to make an illusion’: that is what John Hejduk wrote in large letters in 1973 underneath one of the drawings for Wall House 2, also known as the Bye House. He signed the design ‘Hejduk Fabricator’. (1)

The house is an artefact in our own image. John Hejduk’s house projects — his architectures, but also his many drawings and poems — go far beyond this dimension, even to the extent of evoking the tragedy of life itself. This vision is remarkably well embodied in the Wall Houses , whose very design demonstrates an ontological questioning. The Wall Houses develop a notion of subjective architecture in which the functional meets the symbolic. Through the theatricalization of architectural events, the three houses in this series seem to be invested with narrative and a vital anthropomorphism. The dwelling becomes a place of reflection and meditation on existence, like a sanctuary.

In the Wall House period of John Hejduk’s work, the architectural forms appear contracted in space and turned outward, or extruded. Whereas before they seemed restrained by an enveloping and closed structure, they now float freely, forming an exterior relief, like vital organs emerging from their matrix. The dwelling stands outside of itself, endowing it with a kind of transparency. Through a process of folding out and opening up, it is transformed into a surface of contact, thereby endowing what was once an interior limit with the potential for relations with the outside environment. The wall is a symbol that has strong connotation in the Western imagination and its representations are often associated with negative affects. Walls are usually elements that close things, cut off access, mark possession, hide and render opaque. Symbolically and metaphorically, one can see in Wall-House 2 a reversal of these negative realities in favour of a meeting with the other.

Using these reflections as my springboard, I created a series of images that seek to establish a resonance with the thinking of John Hejduk and especially with his conception of architecture as part of the ‘social contract’. Some of my images explore poetic aspects, others develop political points of view.

You should bring the devils into your own house as a way to challenge both society and one deep held assumptions. – John Hejduk (2)

Wall House 2 was intended to be constructed in Ridgefield, Connecticut, among the trees but was built instead in a recent housing development in Groningen, near a lake. It was also made larger than it was originally supposed to be. In my project, I imagined more of these relocations and transformations. Through the use of digital photomontage, I moved the house to a different set of surroundings and manipulated its exteriors and interiors.

In a number of these created settings, John Hejduk’s architecture plays a disruptive role. The house was relocated into improbable contexts where it would have, undoubtedly, been refused admittance. Some images show it in North American gated communities, beside homes sometimes called Monster Houses, or McMansions (3). Its presence within these wealthy communities (widely disparaged by architects and city planners) creates aesthetic, cultural and social confrontations. In other images, its positioning in relation to architectural elements that embody rejection and segregation, particularly urban walls covered with graffiti, morphs into a call for openness and communication. A final image presents the Wall House as an abandoned monument, in the middle of a vacant lot. This image was inspired by my visit to the Villas La Roche et Jeanneret (Le Corbusier, Paris) and the feeling of strangeness that came from seeing modernity age. This ruin, this fabricated decrepitude, seems to awake a future nostalgia, of the type perhaps that accompanies the end of any aesthetic utopia.

These works were realized while artist-in-residence for two weeks in the Wall House No 2 created by the American architect John Hejduk – a project by Noorderlicht Photography and Wall House No 2 Foundation (Groningen, Holland)

1) Van der Bergh, Wim – “A fabricated illusion”, Archis magazine for Architecture, The Archis Foundation, The Netherlands, 2001.
2) Hays, K. Michael – Sanctuaries: The Last Works of John Hejduk, Whitney Museum of American Art, New-York, Unpaginated, 2002.
3) McMansion is a slang architectural term which first came into use in the United States during the 1980s as a pejorative description and an idiom. It describes a particular style of housing that—as its name suggests—is both large like a mansion and as generic and culturally ubiquitous as McDonald’s fast food restaurants. In addition to ubiquity, almost every reason to poke fun at McDonald’s has been applied metaphorically to “McMansions”. These criticisms include the deviation from traditional local or regional architectural style, a gaudy, sterile, mass-produced appearance, and perceived negative effects on nature and neighbourhoods.



2005 – 2008

Urban sprawl is the dominant model in North America, but it is well established in other parts of the world as well, generating landscapes that are surprisingly similar. These generic territories reflect the unprecedented standardization of our lifestyles and are indicative of the trend towards homogenized cultures and experiences. Today there is a generalized shift from the distinctive and local to the uniform and global. Urban sprawl contrasts sharply with the city of the past, which resulted from sedimentary processes, embodying a collective memory. Modern sprawl allows only for limited and singular connections that do not help build community, but instead encourage individualism and social fragmentation.

Any new development starts with the reworking and levelling of the land. The work is usually carried out in total ignorance of local dynamics, proceeding as if by “erasure.” The sites are stripped of their geographic particularities and cultural memory until they are finally reduced to a sort of zero state. Often, even the topsoil is trucked away to be sold. When the bulldozers depart, they leave nothing behind but a desolate and sterile plain, an almost lunar landscape. It is deserts that we leave behind us. The levelling process results in the loss of the meaning of the lands, and of our ability to renew our own collective imaginations.

The term “excavation” can refer to work in construction, road building or drilling, as well as archaeology. In this series I have in some ways sought to unify these different meanings. The montages result from a union of landscapes which seemed to me to have opposite or contradictory significations. I worked with conservation sites rich in natural and human history, then with disturbed sites and their forms of disappearances. The works contain new housing developments combined with Unesco World Heritage sites. I also combined fossiliferous sites with various landscapes shaped by economic needs, such as garbage dumps and mines. These landscapes blend fairly naturally; their disturbed and stripped aspects make them similar. Indeed, some construction sites are powerfully suggestive of natural deserts. In a number of montages, the difference of scale causes the gaze to slide from one part of the image to another, making the compositions visually unstable. The shift from a monumental scale to a much smaller scale also disturbs hierarchy: that which seemed immense and immutable becomes vulnerable and that which was insignificant becomes important. In these works two visions stand opposed: one a retrospective approach and one that is more prospective but less concerned with permanency.

12 large format images.

Formes de monuments

2008 – 2009

During my residency at Contretype, I am looking at the phenomenon of “Brusselisation”, as urbanists call the anarchic development of cities left to the whims of real estate developers. It was particularly glaring in the 1960s and 1970s, when Brussels was given over to visions of a “city of the future”. It is still in evidence today, it seems to me, especially with the development of European institutions. It is almost as though there were two Brussels: the city of the ordinary citizens who live there, and then the other, more artificial, often deserted city, that a certain technocratic élite passes   through.

Urban blights such as the brutalist architecture and the business quarters I encounter in Brussels remind me of North America’s “no man’s lands” I know all too well. Going through them, I experience similar feelings of alienation and uprootedness. I also discover Brussels from a wholly different angle: inhabited and historic. I am then struck by the startling contrasts that dislocate the city. The body of photographic work I develop following my residency articulates these oppositions by underlining the brutal nature of this cohabitation. Using social statuary to point to a more human scale, I give new meaning to monuments from another era. These digitally rearranged spaces seem to commemorate the levelling of local memory. They also reference human tragedy and the struggle against oppression. Rehabilitated in this way within the urban fabric, they are now turned into gadflies and symbols of resistance.

8 medium and large format images. There works were created while artist-in-residence at L’Espace photographique Contretype (Brussels) in collaboration with VOX Image Centre (Montreal).

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.

Nuits américaines

(Day for Night)

2004 – 2008

These images take a fairly wide variety of forms, including panorama, architectural photography and indoor scenes. Their source is urban landscapes in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Argentina. They depict the changes that are occurring at the same time throughout the Americas in today’s context of a global economy. These transformations are reshaping our territories and everyday life.

This investigation broaches many indissociable questions. Some of these issues relate to the growing economic disparities and social divisions; others refer to the relocation of the economy and to contemporary forms of urban segregation (like the creation of free trade zones or gated communities). They also tackle the degradation of natural and rural areas. These works thus define a certain current political horizon. They show us working-class neighbourhoods undergoing “gentrification,” business districts, poverty-stricken neighbourhoods, outcasts, run-down apartments and threatened natural areas. These disturbing landscapes reveal the results of State policies of disengagement and privatization of public institutions. We are gradually witnessing a change in the political scene, where multinationals are tending to become societies’ key players, with their development strategies having an increasing effect on our daily lives. The metaphor of twilight is used to suggest the many losses stemming from this prospect. The strong contrasts found in these compositions and the struggles that light and shadow seem to be engaged in evoke the power relationships involved. In these Nuits , we can see the consequences of the crumbling of the founding values of our societies, and perhaps also the end of a certain “American dream.” They bring together a few viewpoints culled from these “territories of shadow.”

10 large format images.

Uncertain Landscapes, Drift and Foundations

1998 – 2002

At first glance the images from the Uncertain Landscapes series look like natural areas, but they aren’t really. Like the landscapes they are based on, they represent nature re-worked. It’s easy to miss the fact that these landscapes are the result of deliberate alterations because they easily blend in with their original models. In some ways, they’ve become our “nature,” and lend themselves just as well to outdoor activities. The manipulation of these images becomes a commentary on the artificiality of the landscapes around us. By exposing the alterations to our ecosystems, it highlights our ability to change the course of things.

The non-spaces and no man’s lands depicted in the Drift and Foundation series are illustrative of a transitional state. Sites of movement and change, rootless, they are invested with our presence and with our absence: we transform them, but we don’t inhabit them. Our contemporary condition finds perfect expression in these dehumanized places, chaotic spaces that stretch out from the edges of our cities, but often go unremarked. Caught between the city and the country, choosing neither, they abound in disconnected events. These spaces show us the tensions, combats and disappearances that mark our social and urban fabric. They are forms of urban dis-organization that speak to our time, emphasizing the different types of malaise inherent to our societies.

The highly mediatized world in which we live surrounds us with abstract spaces and manufactured environments. Our perceptions are inhabited by aspects of a technical culture that transforms, condenses and re-directs them toward a world that is increasingly constructed and orchestrated. A new space is gradually being engineered, one that is inextricably confounding reality and fiction. Doctoring my images, I compose vast panoramas that merge different sites into a single space. These landscapes appear to be familiar, but are constructed from many different images. I use the “transparency” of photography and the fact that it appears to be a direct representation of reality to fabricate spaces that are suspended between document and fiction. These possible worlds show us how easy it is for us to now manipulate and play with the world’s realities. We have the privilege of constructing our world: the world we inhabit and the world that inhabits us. This is, of course, not a new phenomenon, but we have unprecedented means for achieving these ends. We give form to worlds that were once impossible and even unthinkable. We act on our surroundings and intervene in the course of events as never before. The universe in which we live has become malleable. It seems clear that our visions and lifestyles have a much greater impact on the world we occupy than in the past.

3 body of works / 21 large format images.