Résidence in situ Saint-Michel is TOHU’s new outdoor exhibition and photographer Caroline Hayeur has been given carte blanche to explore the Saint-Michel district. With the aim of creating new images, the artist reached out to citizens and showed them archival photos from the 1960s, which the end result of which is a mise-en-abyme of similarities and contrasts. Local shops, LRHs, the Metropolitan highway, parc Frédéric-Back park: her juxtapositions of images highlight the character traits specific to this unique district on the island of Montreal. With a keen eye and an affectionate gaze, she captured moments of everyday life in which everyone can relate.
We went to meet her in order to learn a little more about her!
- Are you from the Saint-Michel district?
I am originally from Ville Saint-Laurent, then I spent my childhood and adolescence in the suburbs in the 80s. Afterwards, I lived in the Mile-End for 30 years and I am now established in Ahuntsic, from where I can quickly cycle to the northwest entrance of parc Frédéric-Back.
- What emotions did you feel when you took these pictures?
Having already in mind the archive images I wanted to reproduce, I rode my bike in the Saint-Michel district and met the mechanic who immediately said yes. It’s always a great joy when you approach someone and they accept the camera. Going to meet people, introduce yourself, then explain your project and exchange through photography is like a gift.
- What stories do they tell?
The images tell the quiet daily life of the inhabitants of Saint-Michel outside of stereotypes. Together with the juxtaposition of archival images, they show how the neighborhood has evolved… or not.
- What is your favorite photo from the exhibition and why?
I think the man preparing his vegetable garden for next spring in the community garden at parc Frédéric- Back is particularly touching to me because it relates to the image of poverty in the 1960s. Regreening and access to a form of food self-sufficiency are issues that are particularly close to my heart. The backdrop accentuates the dignity of this man at work in his tiny plot of land.
Clovis has maintained a vegetable garden with his sister since 1995. Champdoré Community Garden, Saint-Michel, 2020.
A backyard in the City of Saint-Michel, 1960-1968. Archives de Montréal.
- Are you nostalgic by nature?
I am anything but nostalgic. You can’t evolve if you always dwell on the past. But this project also illustrates that we must take the past into account to better learn from our mistakes and keep the good ideas to continue to progress towards a fair and equitable society.
The outdoor exhibition is accessible at all times until August 31!