For twenty-five years, Montreal photographer Benoit Aquin has travelled the world to bring home to us the environmental issues and the human stories linked to them. His is a socially engaged approach in tune with the mindset of his time. He works project by project, studying his subjects in depth before capturing them with his camera.
He is concerned with climatic catastrophes, as evidenced by his series “Tsunami” (2004) executed in Indonesia, and “Haiti” (2010-2011). Environmental disasters are also among his concerns: global warming in “Quebec’s Far North” (2005) and the food crisis in Egypt in 2007. In 2008 he won the prestigious Prix Pictet for the images in his series “The Chinese ‘Dust Bowl’” (2006-2007). To illustrate the competition’s subject – water – he chose to depict drought resulting from human activity. In this regard, it is not surprising that he was drawn to the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic. The exhibition Mégantic in Pictures features forty photographs that reveal the photographer’s empathy with his subject. Thirteen photographs from this series – which are being exhibited in Canada for the first time – were presented last summer at the Rencontres d’Arles as part of a retrospective of the four winners of the Prix Pictet. The photograph Exclusion Zone from the series “Mégantic” was selected by The Guardian as one of the fifteen best images in this annual festival of photography.
Benoit Aquin (born in 1963), from the Series “Mégantic”, 2013
Ink-jet print, 1/5, 102 x 152 cm