INCIPIT – COVID-19 - Photography exhibition - McCord Stewart Museum
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Photography Exhibition

From September 16, 2022, to January 22, 2023

INCIPIT – COVID-19

Photographs by Michel Huneault

In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began in Montreal. Struck by the historic nature of the situation, the Museum gave photographer Michel Huneault carte blanche to document this unprecedented upheaval. Named for the Latin word incipit, meaning “here begins,” the exhibition INCIPIT – COVID-19 recalls the early stages of the crisis, a chance to reflect back on the series of events that put the world on pause, starting from the first outbreak.

Featuring 30 works that are now part of the Museum’s collection and 3 projections of photos and videos comprising over 150 images, the exhibition expresses the many facets photographer Michel Huneault explored in his efforts to convey the complexity of this challenging period and understand history in the making. Using a singular approach that intertwines several research and creation activities, Huneault chronicles various lived experiences in the public sphere, in private life and in healthcare institutions.

  • Michel Huneault, <i>Waiting line at the Costco Anjou, Montreal, April 10, 2020</i>, M2022.13.14, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Michel Huneault, <i>Temporary COVID-19 intensive care unit, Notre-Dame Hospital, Montreal, May 26, 2020</i>, M2022.13.11, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Michel Huneault, <i>Temporary annex, Verdun Hospital, Montreal, May 29, 2020</i>, M2022.13.23, McCord Stewart Museum
  • Michel Huneault, <i>Freda leaves the isolation floor after recovering from COVID-19, Maimonides, Geriatric Center, Montreal, June 22, 2020</i>, M2022.13.26, McCord Stewart Museum

Michel Huneault

Michel Huneault is a documentary photographer and visual artist. Committed to a personal, humanist approach, he brings together still images and immersive elements in his work. He is interested in collective trauma, migration and other geographically complex realities such as the consequences of climate change.

Michel Huneault has a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where, as a Rotary Peace Fellow, he studied the role of collective memory after major traumatic events. He studied under and assisted Magnum photographer Gilles Peress at Berkeley and in New York City. Before devoting himself to photography full-time in 2008, he worked in international development for over a decade, a career that took him to over 20 countries, including Afghanistan, where he spent an entire year in Kandahar.

His project documenting the Lac-Mégantic train disaster won the 2015 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize in the United States. In 2016, his project Post Tohoku about the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan was nominated for the seventh Prix Pictet award and received an Antoine-Desilets award in Quebec. In 2018, his series ROXHAM was transformed into a virtual reality project by the National Film Board of Canada. He develops his projects in different chapters, presenting them on complementary platforms ranging from traditional media to contemporary art spaces.

Collaborative photography project

Alongside the photographic mission entrusted to Michel Huneault, in April 2020 the Museum launched a collaborative public project, Framing Everyday Life: Stories of Confinement. This project invited the public to express, through photography, how the pandemic and confinement influenced their relationship with the outside world and each other.

After more than 2 years, over 4,000 photographs with the hashtags #FramingEverydayLife and #Cadrerlequotidien have been shared on social media, providing a portrait of the diverse realities experienced by Quebecers and the way they evolved.

Discover the gallery.

  • © Leila Afriat
  • © Leila Afriat
  • © Leila Afriat
  • © Leila Afriat
  • © Leila Afriat

Not to be missed!

What people are saying about it

« A beautifully raw collection of photographs showcasing diverse perspectives of the people impacted by the first wave of the pandemic. » The McGill Tribune
Thanks to our partners
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