So, here we are, humans and animals (the same thing, really), perforce engaged in the concrete and naked fact of existing. We are – the verb says it with the force of law – sunk into being like a foundation is sunk into the ground. For as long as the few hours, days, or decades that our life lasts – from birth to death – we are learning to inhabit our existence. Because we are, all of us, it seems legitimate to state that the realm of the living encompasses as many habitats as there are ways of living. This is what a considerable swath of photographs has, since the invention of photography, tried to convey in images.
Each of the four portfolios presented in this issue, as snippets of the impossible inventory of all inhabited places, offers an incursion into an environment – perhaps real, perhaps fantasized, but always constructed.
First, the pigeons photographed by Stephen Gill show us how life is rooted in the theatre of its deployment, edified, against history, from bare steel, guano, and the accumulation of days. Turning his attention to humans, Steve Veilleux, in his series Projections, unveils the dominant fantasy of inhabiting, with a dazed air and a crooked smile despite the crisis, a living environment shaped by a conception of the world that has no ideal other than consumption. Although commonly envisaged as a product, the habitat is no less a fascinating site for construction – thus, for utopia. As a field of possibilities, it may be made to reflect, as Allison Tweedie’s collages suggest, the disquieting strangeness of the human psyche. Finally, the very idea of habitat is annihilated when it is absorbed, engulfed, drowned in the immersive experience of nature, in which the life that we live, as Normand Rajotte’s beavers teach us, is nothing but a vast and perpetual site for constructing seasons. Translated by Käthe Roth