Benoit Aquin : Mégantic, A retrospective of the Prix Pictet, Les Rencontres d’Arles

Benoit Aquin: Mégantic

A Prix Pictet Retrospective, Les Rencontres d’Arles

At the Magasin Électrique, parc des Ateliers, Arles, France

From July 7 to September 21, 2014

Revetement de polymere, exterieur de maison fondu, Lac Megantic 2013

Winner of the prestigious Prix Pictet in 2008 for his series The Chinese “Dust Bowl”, Montréal photographer Benoit Aquin has travelled the world for over 25 years, creating poignant images that bear witness to humanity’s often contentious relationship to the land.

The thirteen works from the Mégantic series, presented at Les Rencontres d’Arles as part of a Prix Pictet retrospective exhibition, reveal a wounded small town in eastern Québec devastated by the derailment and explosion of a freight train carrying crude oil in July 2013. Benoit Aquin surveyed the charred core of Lac-Mégantic in the months following the tragedy to take stock of the area’s destruction, but also of the life that tries to rebuild itself there.

He throws a harsh light on this environmental disaster, now emblematic of the neglectful management of Canada’s territories. At a time when oil industry lobbyists increase efforts to transform Québec into a new hub of trade in black gold, Benoit Aquin uncovers the human and environmental impact of political and economic ambitions in the frantic extraction of hydrocarbons, which in spite of recent events, is currently happening on a global scale. His work accompanies and supports citizen engagement that seeks to preserve the primacy of collective interests over corporatist ones from offending industries, and their accomplices among the political class.

The entire Mégantic series will be reproduced in a catalogue published in the fall of 2014 by VU, centre de diffusion et de production de la photographie, in Québec.