Chambre Noire/Darkroom, an immersive art installation built around archival photographs by Edward Hillel depicting St-Laurent Blvd. — a.k.a. the Main — during the 1980s, opens Wednesday evening at the Museum of Jewish Montreal.The St-Laurent Blvd. museum’s gallery space will be transformed into an imaginary darkroom, complete with work table, in an exhibit by the award-winning photographer and multidisciplinary artist that draws on archives from his 1987 book The Main: Portrait of a Neighbourhood and provides a glimpse into his creative process. The photos in the book were taken between 1978 and 1985.The exhibition features a 40-by-90-inch hand-drawn map of the Main, with locations from photos in the book marked on it and referred to as the artist’s footsteps, explained Pippa Bartlett, one of the curators. Visitors will be invited to make their own footsteps or to share a story or a memory on Post-its and stickers provided.
Chambre Noire/Darkroom, an immersive art installation by photographer and multidisciplinary artist Edward Hillel, opens Wednesday at the Museum of Jewish Montreal.
Kristin Linnea Backe
On the back wall are 18 enlarged contact sheets, marked by the artist to link the images of the people and places in the photographs to pages in his book — and also to points on the hand-drawn map, she said.Enlarged negative strips in the windows facing Duluth Ave. will be visible at night from the street, illuminated by the red glow familiar to anyone who has been in an analog darkroom.Decades have passed since the building at St-Laurent Blvd. and Duluth Ave. that today houses the Museum of Jewish Montreal was a garment factory, but its spirit occasionally makes itself felt. Hillel acknowledges that history as well as the processes of analog photography.A copy of The Main: Portrait of a Neighbourhood will be available for browsing as well as a video of the book created by the now-defunct Canadian Photography History website.Hillel has revisited The Main all these decades later, commissioned by the Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent, to create a new body of work that is to be published soon.Born in Baghdad, he grew up in Montreal, where he studied political science and philosophy at McGill University and worked as community organizer between 1975 and 1990 while developing his artistic practice.
Rothstein Pants, one of the images from Edward Hillel’s 1987 book The Main: Portrait of a Neighbourhood.
Edward Hillel /
He lived in Paris between 1990 and 2000 and in 2006 opened a studio in New York: Hillel is the founder and current director of the Harlem Biennale. He has won several awards and prizes for projects in cities including Berlin, Grenoble, Manchester, New York, Paris and Venice along with Montreal — the German Critics Visual Arts Prize and Canada’s Golden Sheaf Film Award among them.Chambre Noire/Darkroom, a part of the museum’s 2018-2019 exhibition series Mouvement & Migrations, was made possible with the support of the Conseil des arts de Montréal.The vernissage, free and open to all, begins at 7 p.m. and the artist will be in attendance. But the museum is open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and visitors can have a sneak peek as finishing touches are put on the hand-drawn map.Chambre Noire/Darkroom runs to Sept. 15 at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, 4040 St-Laurent Blvd. at Duluth Ave.Related