PDN Photo of the Day

A Photographic Response to an Oil Train Explosion

Lac-Mégantic, Quebec is a small, scenic, tourist town suffering from a great loss. Around 1am on night of July 6, 2013, multiple train cars, filled with crude oil, derailed, causing an explosion that killed 47 people, and destroyed much of Lac-Mégantic’s downtown.

Michel Huneault, a photographer based in Montreal, first heard about the incident on the news. But it wasn’t until he met residents of Lac-Mégantic, which is named after the town’s freshwater lake, that he realized there was much more to the story than public safety and environmental repercussions.

Huneault made multiple trips to Lac-Mégantic over the course of a year to speak with its residents, listening to their stories and exploring the deeply personal repercussions underlying the disaster and aftermath. He created a series of large-format and smaller images primarily of the town’s landscape, photographed at night in areas directly affected by the accident. “La longue nuit de Mégantic” is “also about the informational darkness in which the residents had to evolve with over time, as authorities were carefully limiting access to the site and to information,” Huneault writes. The images are quiet and eerie, evoking a sense of loss.

“La longue nuit de Mégantic” is currently on view through March 13, 2015 at CONTACT Gallery in Toronto. The show will travel to Lac-Mégantic after the run at CONTACT. For more information about the project and to see more of Huneault’s work, please visit his website.

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