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LE DEVOIR THE INTERVIEW – A PERSPECTIVE ON THE GASPÉ
Claude Goulet sows photographs all along Route 132
Make a note: photogaspesie.ca
Between the shadows of the open water, the stones polished by the sea and the blue of the sky, anyone visiting the Gaspé in August will also see, all along the peninsula, photographs installed from one village to the next as part of the second edition of Rencontres internationales de la photographie en Gaspésie. Over the last few days, the master of this singular event, Claude Goulet, has been speeding along Route 132 to finish mounting the works of some 30 high-level photographers in time.
Hang on a minute, I’m stopping the car so I can talk to you!” Claude Goulet, it has to be said, doesn’t stop very often. He travels this country continually, largely because of his passion for photography. These last few days, the founder of Rencontres internationales de la photographie en Gaspésie has already made two tours of the peninsula to ensure that the installation of the works by the photographers selected for this second edition of an event that spreads out over more than 600 kilometers is done as effectively as possible. So it has to be done on wheels, between the sea air and mountain air, this discovery of 30 photographers brought together until September 12 in 13 different municipalities. Where does the ambitious idea of holding an event like this come from? “From love!” he says, laughing. “One day I came to the Gaspé and I met the woman I’ve been living with for seven years. I set up house in the area, and resolved to do something here that really appeals to me.” Of course, the fragile flower of love never comes from the some place where it decides to grow.
Before settling down in the Gaspé, Goulet was already a regular in the world of culture, having worked in the area of music production. “When I traveled to France for my job, I always made time to visit photo festivals as well.”
For years, then, he strode back and forth as a curious fan through the old hangars and different buildings in Arles, in the south of France, a series of improbable spaces that nonetheless house, every summer, a very important photography festival. Enthusiasts and professionals from around the world flock to it.
“In Arles I met Jean-Daniel Berclaz of the Musée du Point de Vue. Since 1997 Berclaz has organized a photo event centered around the landscape. Photographers taking part present their work on the same spot where it was done.” In this museum with no fixed address, Berclaz examines the places as much as the photography. He adapts to the places where he installs works, performing an examination of the sites through that very process.
Claude Goulet was enchanted by this iconoclastic take on photography. “I told myself I could adapt that in my own way, in the Gaspé, where I live.”
On the road
In Paspebiac, the photographs of Larry Towell, member of the prestigious Magnum agency, are presented outside, on large panels. “These are photos that are highly characteristic of his output, taken from a project done on the Mennonite community and one on his family life, the latter a series entitled ‘The World from My Front Porch.’”
Not far from there, the work of Gabor Szilazi, dean of art photography in Québec, is displayed indoors this time, at the historical site of Banc-de-Pêche. “Szilazi is taking advantage of a photographer residency as part of the event. We thought in this case that the work would come off better under a roof.”
What else has he sown on his path? “Now I’m headed towards Chandler, where there’s an installation of the works of Jean-François Leblanc.” In this series, the contributor to the newspaper Le Devoir has devoted himself to the native peoples of Bolivia. An other regular contributor to Le Devoir, François Pesant, is also among the guests of this year’s Rencontres internationales de la photographie de la Gaspésie. “In Chandler,” Claude Goulet continues, “we’re also presenting ‘Les Portraits en papier,’ dedicated to the Gaspesia workers, on the very site of the former mill.”
In Matapedia, on the walls of the church, large photos of Haiti, taken after the disaster of January 12, 2010, attract all kinds of attention. “These 25 photos by Roger Lemoyne take on a special meaning, joined as they are to the walls of a church, in other words in place of the religious in this tragedy,” explains Claude Goulet. In 2010, the morning after the devastating hurricane, Lemoyne set off to photograph the streets of Port-au-Prince in color. This year the outstanding Montreal photographer traveled to Cairo during Arab spring, at the very moment when the population was rising up against its present-day pharaoh.
In Gaspé, still on the Egyptian trail, it’s impossible to avoid the photographs of Benoît Aquin, a world traveler with a modern and remarkable way of seeing things. Aquin journeyed up the Nile, on the trail of the life that water makes possible. And he grew interested in the shock of modern life meeting the old world. For the works of Dave Andersen, a photographer who hails from the southern U.S., Goulet used the covered bridge in Petite-Vallée. Andersen’s exhibit, “Rough Beauty,” was greeted with enthusiasm by American critics before becoming the material for a book that has been translated into three languages. “It’s striking, the ambience that this provides for these very serious photos,” says Claude Goulet, with a glimmer of satisfaction in his voice.
All along Route 132, “every place where photography is on display, there are projection evenings with the photographers in attendance. The whole population can attend. Everyone’s invited to come and hear the photographers talk about their work, very informally.”
We should mention many of the other photographers present, at least the work of Isabelle Eshraghy, devoted to the status of women. “No one can get enough of her! Everyone wants to talk to her, her work’s so powerful!” There’s also the extraordinary Serge Clément, in Marsoui, before his new works get to be seen this fall at Galerie Simon Blais [in Montreal].
Educating the eye
Claude Goulet stresses the importance of the educational aspect of an event like this. “We’re very keen for schools to be involved, for the eyes of young people to develop through our activities. We work hard on this component, which includes workshops for youngsters at the primary and secondary levels.”
Over the years, a number of writers, painters and photographers have found a land that nourishes their work in the Gaspé. Even Paul-Émile Borduas allowed himself to be tempted by photography there. Until October 2, the Musée régional de Rimouski is reminding us, thanks to an exhibit by Bertrand Carrière, that the great American photographer Paul Strand (1890-1976) visited the Gaspé on two occasions to practice his art. “We still haven’t collaborated with that excellent museum,” says Claude Goulet. “But,” he adds, with confidence in his new land’s cultural future, “we’d like to do something with them in the years ahead.”
L'ACTUALITÉ THE OTHER TOUR OF THE GASPÉ
Isabelle Grégoire August 12, 2011
Thirty photographers are taking the Gaspé by storm with exhibits, often outdoors, of 900 striking photos taken in the four corners of the planet. A trip around the world, in 13 towns and villages.
he docks of Matapedia. The covered bridge in Grande-Vallée. The historical site of Banc-de-Pêche-de-Paspébiac. The Parc du Souvenir in Chandler. The town hall in Percé, across from the rock...
During the second Rencontres internationales de la photographie en Gaspésie, from August 5 to September 12, a long list of places are being transformed into short-lived museums, hosting works by 30 photographers from Québec and elsewhere.
In all, 900 photos are on display – in large size and, for the most part, in the open air – in various municipalities on the peninsula.
“We’re using the enormous Gaspesian territory to promote an encounter between the public and artistic creation as well as between well-known and emerging photographers,” says Claude Goulet, executive director and founder of Rencontres.
The event, which is free of charge, consists of exhibits by guest artists and by artists in residence plus 20 photo projections (with their authors in attendance) as well as lectures and workshops for young Gaspesians. Contributors to L’actualité, including Jean-François Bérubé and François Pesant, are some of those taking part.
A Montreal native and Gaspesian by adoption, Claude Goulet, 55 years old, worked for a long time in the world of the performing arts, identifying shows elsewhere that he then produced in Québec. A fan of photography, and a regular attendee at encounters, exhibits and galleries in Paris, Arles and New York, he patiently developed the idea of an large-scale initiative that would spotlight his region.
In 2009 he set up Parcours du point de vue – Gaspésie, which brought together 10 photographic installations in the very spots where the pictures had been taken. (A concept adapted from the Musée du Point de vue, created in France, in 1997, by the Swiss artist Jean-Daniel Berclaz, himself associated with the Parcours.) The welcome from the public and the municipalities was such that Goulet launched Rencontres the following year, with the ambition of making it an annual international rendezvous.
On the theme of “Photographic Itineraries,” the 2011 Rencontres invites the public on a trip around the world at the same time as a journey through the Gaspé. An invitation to discover the singular way of seeing of the 30 participating photographers, five of them from abroad. In Bonaventure, for example, the Franco-Iranian Isabelle Eshraghi is displaying 40 photos taken from her book Femmes hors du voile, the fruit of 10 years’ worth of research in Muslim countries.
Femmes hors du voile (Women Outside the Veil), Isabelle Eshraghi
“Isabelle is showing us these women in a different way,” says Claude Goulet, who discovered this artist’s work during a visit to Paris. “Through sports, education, leisure activity... Women who are modern, full of laughter and life, but also conscious of their condition – material to dispel prejudices.”
The director of Rencontres takes pride in having persuaded American photographer Larry Towell, of the renowned Magnum agency, to be here this summer. Ontario-born but living in New York, Towell is exhibiting two series of black-and-white photos in Paspebiac: Mennonites, reportage carried out in the Ontario countryside and in Mexico, and The World from My Front Porch, pictures taken on his Ontario farm.
Québec photojournalists François Pesant and Roger Lemoyne, meanwhile, have brought with them gripping images of their wanderings abroad. The former is presenting Les réfugiés du climat [Climate Refugees] in Carleton-sur-Mer, some 60 shots taken in India; the second, Espwa fè viv in Matapedia, photo coverage of Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
Espwa fè viv, Roger Lemoyne
As for Montreal’s Cynthia Copper, she’s proposing a “photographic tour” in downtown Gaspé, with her impressions of the mythical Timbuktu.
Young Montreal photographer Catherine-Lune Grayson delivers her account of populations displaced by war and violence in Africa. In the refugee camps of Somalia, Yemen and Kenya, she lent small cameras to adolescents “so that they could tell the story of the places where they’re growing up.” Their photos are also exhibited in Gaspé, alongside those taken by students from the town over the last year in the context of “Regard sur ma ville” (A Look at My Town), the educational component of Rencontres. “We’re working on stirring up the interest of young Gaspesians in all types of photography,” says Claude Goulet.
However much Rencontres is open to the world, the photogenic Gaspé nonetheless remains very much at the heart of the event.
Gaspésiennes, Jean-François Bérubé
Gaspésiennes, by Jean-François Bérubé and Sophie Jean, pays tribute to more than 30 women who are involved in the community and whose portraits will be exhibited in Carleton-sur-Mer. Les Portraits en papier – a dozen giant portraits of former workers at the defunct Gaspésia pulp and paper mill, a project by Toronto’s Dan Bergeron – will be on display on buildings in Chandler. And the Manifestation pour la mémoire des quais – a “participative performance” created by Maryse Goudreau – will invite amateur photographers and media in the region to underscore in pictures “the urgency of restoring this access to the sea.”
Thirteen municipalities are taking part in the second Rencontres internationales de la photographie: Cap-Chat, Marsoui, Grande-Vallée, Gaspé, Percé, Chandler, Paspebiac, Bonaventure, New Richmond, Maria, Carleton-sur-Mer, Nouvelle and Matapedia. In all, a little trip around the world in close to 700 kilometers!
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