☛ Charlevoix 1970 by Gabor Szilasi, Quebec: L’instant même, 2012, p. 57. Photo no. 116: “Rue Saint-Adolphe, Baie-Saint-Paul” 4″ x 5″, September 20 or 21, 1970, negative no. 70-432. © Gabor Szilasi
More details about the “Charlevoix” project from the essay “Gabor Szilasi. 1954-1996 Photographs” by David Harris:
While individual and group portraits remain at the centre of this project, Szilasi included photographs of the interiors and exte-riors of his sitters’ homes and of the surrounding landscape, deliberately situating individuals within a broader social environment. The interior views reveal patterns of taste and decoration through the presence of paintings, photographs, crosses, and religious statuary, and in the arrangement of furniture, including prominently placed television sets. This genre of photograph invites the viewer to construct a psychological profile of the absent owners through a visual inventory and analysis of the contents of their rooms. Similarly, the exterior views reveal the coexistence of a vernacular architectural tradition alongside a predominantly American consumer culture, as evidenced by commercial signage. Finally, the landscape photographs provide a larger sense of the country-side with its strong agricultural base and omnipresent Roman Catholic church. In the Charlevoix photographs we encounter an isolated community rooted in a strong religious and agrarian heritage, where premonitions of future change are indicated by the, as yet relatively small, incursions of the television set and advertisements.
In 2006, Catherine Martin directed a magnificent documentary about Szilasi’s Charlevoix titled L’esprit des lieux (The Spirit of Places, see IMDb). The film is available on DVD via Les Films du 3 Mars:
In 1970, Hungarian-Québécois photographer Gabor Szilasi set out for the Charlevoix region of Québec to photograph the last vestiges of a disappearing rural world.
Thirty-five years later, filmmaker Catherine Martin (Océan, Dans les villes, Trois temps après la mort d’Anna) went back to revisit the landscape, places and people he photographed. L’esprit des lieux retraces Szilasi’s photographic journey, taking stock of what remains and what has disappeared.
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