La longue nuit de Mégantic

Michel Huneault
La longue nuit de Mégantic

CONTACT Gallery
January 29 – March 13, 2015
Opening Reception Thursday January 29, 6 – 9pm, remarks at 7pm

The CONTACT Gallery is pleased to present La longue nuit de Mégantic, an exhibition by Montreal-based photographer Michel Huneault.

La longue nuit de Mégantic is the culmination of the documentary photographer’s year-long project visiting Lac-Mégantic after Canada’s deadliest train disaster in almost 150 years. In the middle of the night on July 6, 2013 a train filled with crude oil derailed in the small Quebec town creating an explosion that destroyed much of the downtown area, instantly killing 47 people.

The disaster has since been in the forefront of current national debates regarding energy transportation, safety and the environment.  However, Huneault’s interest in this story is human and intimate, with a focus on the community and the aftershock. His experience in international development and academic research on disaster and trauma, both personal and collective, has given him an insightful perspective.

The series of large-format and small photographs, predominantly of the town’s landscape, brings to mind the viewpoint of a wanderer, or stunned observer. Upon Huneault’s arrival within hours of the explosion, and subsequent visits throughout the seasons, he was able to capture an eerie calm that seemed to resonate across the community. Often at night he would return to the same streets, houses or sites, retracing the geography of the scarred place, sometimes encountering locals on a similar journey. As a result, the images convey the passing of time and evoke the emotions of loss, absence and searching, as they evolve over one symbolic year.

An accompanying single-channel video piece consists of a series of portraits and short audio interviews with community members who experienced loss and trauma.  Their stories offer an intimate glimpse into their process of mourning, the need for answers and justice, and the desire to find reconciliation.