The Great North of Valérian Mazataud

Le Grand Nord de Valérian Mazataud

Photo: Valérian Mazataud
The project Valérian Mazataud also aims to establish a dialogue between the different generations of inhabitants of Montréal-Nord.

The Great North, it is not always the end of the world. For Valérian Mazataud, a photographer with the Duty that presents a photo exhibition at the gallery Skol, Montreal, the Grand North is very close, a few kilometers to the north of the Plateau Mont-Royal.

It is thus that he refers to the borough of Montréal-Nord, where he worked on this project since 2013.

And his exhibition bears witness to the passage of time in this area of Montreal.

“I started this project five years after the death of Fredy Villanueva. I was wondering : is it that one could not speak of this district, other than through the cliché of street gangs ? “

It then creates a series of photographs that document the social ties of the neighbourhood, through community activities, cultural or religious.

The gallery Skol, which presents works that focus on citizen participation, inspired a second project. The photographer selects images from the 1940s until 1970, in the archives of the Society of history and genealogy of Montréal-Nord. We see a couple of new married, a religious or a skier, for example, testimony of the rural past of the place. The photographer, who also provides workshops in photography, decided to make it a working basis for meetings. It shows a group of young participants in the organization to the Bands of Hope, newcomers enrolled in French language courses and teenagers are in a phase of professionalization.

Le Grand Nord de Valérian Mazataud

Photo: Valérian Mazataud

And it offers them a chance of photographing the same scenes, but with actors today. “The idea was to mix the two, the photos of yesterday and those of today, and turn it into a work of art. “

The project also aims to establish a dialogue between the different generations of inhabitants of Montréal-Nord. “The people who lent me photographs from the archives have told me about how their neighbourhood has changed, how this small community has grown quickly, from a time when there was no bridge,” says Valérian Mazataud.

The result is quite revealing of the transformations suffered by the area over the decades, and the strong immigration that has peopled the district. The residents of Montreal North are now of all backgrounds.

On the photos in the archives, you can see a cyclist on boulevard Henri-Bourassa, which is gravel. The town of Sainte-Gertrude of the 1940s and has hosted, over the years, the refugees of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, fields of turnips gave birth to shopping centers.

As for the title of the exhibition, Great North, it is a bit of a wink to the distance of perception that exists between the Quebec of the South and Nunavik. However, it happens that even in a city like Montreal, it is a prisoner of preconceived ideas about the other, even though he lives nearby.

Great North

Exhibition photo-video-sound of Valérian Mazataud. Until 6 April 2019. Centre des arts actuels Skol. 372, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest. Espace 314, Montréal. www.skol.ca

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