Past Event

This immersive story centres on Roxham Road, a small section of the border where people are arrested and welcomed at the same time. Photo installation presented in addition to the Particles of Existence exhibition.

Opening hours:
Monday: closed
Tuesday: 10 AM to 9 PM
Wednesday: 10 AM to 5 PM
Thursday and Friday: 10 AM to 9 PM
Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM to 5 PM

Free admission

Where: Plateau space (1st floor)

Photographer Michel Huneault documented border interceptions of asylum seekers moving from the United States to Canada and their confusing quest for a safe place.

- Stop! If you walk further, you’ll be arrested.
- I know; I am really sorry. You have to help us; we are entering.

In early 2017, the number of asylum seekers arriving at Roxham Road sharply increased. This quiet road between the United States and Canada became the location with the largest number of irregular border crossings in the country.

Roxham takes us to the moments when Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers intercept these individuals. Documenting 180 border-crossing attempts between February and August 2017, Michel Huneault captured their stories in images and sound, which are now also presented in virtual reality.

In the photographs, the asylum seekers are shown in silhouette. Composite images of various fabrics shield their identity, preserving their anonymity. These textures come from another photo series Huneault made during the 2015 European migrant crisis.

At Roxham Road—just like in the immersive experience—the border is invisible, the confusion is palpable and emotions run high. Migration, an exceedingly personal decision, has been thrust to the forefront of public and political debates. Roxham Road is quickly becoming symbolic: it embodies the tensions between the international responsibility to welcome others and the duty to protect a national territory.

The 10-metre-wide Roxham Road becomes a microcosm of the world’s crises, offering a personal glimpse into the confusing quest for a safe place.

The photo works are accompanied by auditive tracks. Headphones are placed around the exhibition. The virtual reality work Roxham is part of the Particles of Existence exhibition and can be experimented when purchasing tickets.

Michel Huneault

In his practice, Michel Huneault combines documentary photography and contemporary visual art. Committed to a personal, humanist approach, he brings together still images and immersive elements in his work.

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

Michel Huneault’s interest in development, trauma, migration and other geographically complex realities remains strong today. He develops his projects in chapters over a period of several years, presenting them through complementary platforms ranging from traditional media to contemporary art spaces.

His long-term project on the Lac-Mégantic train disaster won the 2015 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize and was published the following year by Schilt Publishing in a book titled The Long Night of Mégantic. In 2016, the R. James Travers Foreign Corresponding Fellowship enabled him to deepen his research on migratory issues. The same year, his project Post Tohoku, on the effects of the tsunami in Japan, was nominated for a Prix Pictet 7 and received a Prix Antoine-Désilets. His work has been presented in Japan, the United States, Canada and Switzerland. Michel Huneault lives in Montreal and has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

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