Benoit Aquin | Haïti

31 March - 28 April 2012

Exhibition Dates: March 31 – April 28, 2012

Reception for the Artist: Saturday, April 14, 2-5pm


The gallery is pleased to present our second solo exhibition by Benoit Aquin, entitled, “Haïti,” which documents the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12th, 2010 and the resiliency of people who have been plagued for decades with political and social unrest.

On January 16th, four days after the earthquake, Aquin arrived in Haïti as a volunteer with the CECI (Centre for International Studies and Cooperation). For years, Aquin has sought to document and further understand the relationship between people and their environment and he knew that this journey would be instrumental to his personal and professional growth. Over the course of five different trips, Aquin documented what he describes as “a metaphor for the cycle of life.” On his first trip, he photographed at dusk where the blue-grey tone inherent to this time of day emphasized the unbearable atmosphere of death and was reminiscent of the sepia tone that pervaded Aquin’s images from his “Chinese Dust Bowl” series.  The normally brimming and populated city streets of Port-au-Prince were destruction zones, with people isolated in its spaces.  On his second visit, three months later, the affected atmosphere begins to dissipate and in his most recent images, scenes from carnival and of daily life depict a genuine exuberance; life celebrating a victory over death.  


Aquin’s work has long been recognized for its formal beauty and documentary style, with attention devoted to detail and composition. In this series, his focus on colour and the vibrancy of the people in the face of a catastrophic disaster has helped him push into new formal boundaries, which verge on abstraction.  His highly informed and articulate work addresses the ever shifting complexities of global concerns ranging from Nicaragua’s pesticide crimes, the melting ice flows in Northern Canada to China’s desertification disaster. Aquin is currently working on a project about the world food crisis.

In 2008, Aquin (b. Montréal, 1963) won the inaugural Prix Pictet for his “Chinese Dust Bowl” series, which was published as a monograph, Far East, Far West, by les éditions du passage in 2009. His work can be found in the prominent collections of Museum of Contemporary Canadian Photography, Ottawa; Musée National de beaux-arts du Quebec, Quebec City; the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa; Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Montréal; Art Bank of Canada, Ottawa; amongst others.


This project was made possible with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.