Over the years, many photographers have explored Montreal and its neighbourhoods. Their images have captured portraits of residents, the colour and composition of the streets and commercial arteries, and the mixture of cultures that contribute to the quality and diversity of a city, as well as the commitment of residents who create the fabric of communities and sometimes generate resistance to changes that create upheavals in their living environment.
For more than ten years, Robert Walker photographed the neighbourhood in which he was born with the particular gaze and style that he has developed throughout his career. He treats Hochelaga-Maisonneuve a bit as he treated New York: with superimposed planes, strong colour contrasts, unusual juxtapositions, an interest in advertising and graphic representations, and a strong attachment to street life. Through his memories and personal stories, Walker constructs the portrait of a neighbourhood with a rich past (middle-class, institutional, and industrial), now home to working-class culture dealing with all the contradictions of modern society. In its way, this culture is just as rich – visually, at least – as those of the great capitals.
With an essay by Pierre Dessureault
Clara Gutsche et David Miller
Groupe d’Action Photographique : Michel Campeau, Roger Charbonneau, Claire Beaugrand-Champagne
Patrick Dionne et Miki Gingras
Pierre Dessureault discusses some notable works on Montreal, several of which we reproduce here. First, there is Gabor Szilasi’s emblematic series on retail façades on St. Catherine Street and their mosaics of advertising. Then there is the series of photographs made in tandem by Clara Gutsche and David Miller as the Milton-Park neighbourhood was being demolished; Miller took exterior shots, and Gutsche went inside to take pictures of the residents. At about the same time, the Groupe d’action photographique was formed with the intention of portraying residents of the city’s working-class neighbourhoods. This is the spirit in which photographs by Michel Campeau, Roger Charbonneau, Claire Beaugrand-Champagne – members of the group at the time – were taken. More recently, Patrick Dionne and Miki Gingras have produced a series of murals that are composite group portraits of a number of working-class neighbourhoods of Montreal, in collaboration with the residents active in each neighbourhood.
With a presentation by Pierre Dessureault