Sunday, 19 September 2010

(ruelle St. André / de Mentana)

A photographic installation illuminating the history of a Montreal alleyway.

The subjects of Loren Williams’ photographs frequently lead her below ground level into museum basements, along underground rivers and into the past. Laterna Magica, a site specific installation which opens this month in Montreal, excavates the photographic history of her neighbourhood on the Plateau from the 1920’s to the present.

Over the past year the artist has invited residents to show her their photo albums and talk about their memories of the St - André and de Mentana neighbourhood where they live. With its history as a tough, working class neighbourhood, the area was home to large families, kids playing hockey in the alleyway, rival bike gangs, numerous artists and musicians, four candy stores and a nearby zoo in Park Lafontaine whose animals occasionally were known to escape.

The Laterna Magica installation traces the memory and geography of the neighbourhood through photo album images, returning to the original sites where the photos were taken and juxtaposing these views of the past­­ with the present. Enlarged photographs, installed primarily in the alleyway shared by rue St. André and de Mentana, are visible in residents’ windows and illuminated each night of the event from dusk to midnight. Over 100 other album images are mounted on exterior walls and fences forming a block-long corridor of photographs from rue Roy to rue Bousquet. Both the alleyway, with its less formal and unruly character, and the photographs navigate between the private and public experience, revealing the individuality of past and present residents as well as the complexity of the neighbourhood as a whole.

Originally from the Kootenay’s in British Columbia, Loren Williams has lived in Montreal since 1992.
The passage of time, natural history, museums and obsolete photographic technologies are the inspiration and vocabulary of her practice.  Frequently, there is a connection between the artwork and the site where it is presented.  She has received awards and grants from the federal and provincial art councils and has exhibited her work nationally.