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The big ships are waiting


Iron thoughts sail out at evening on iron ships.

(Malcolm Lowry).




In the middle of the marine estuary of the St.Lawrence, off the reefs called Razades, three or four kilometers from the shore, there is a unique place: a large parking lot reserved for large merchant navy ships on their way to the interior of the continent. They are waiting here to be able to cross a virtual line connecting Trois-Pistoles to Les Escoumins, beyond which they will be required to board an expensive Saint-Laurent Pilot. Flying the Nigerian or Greek or Maltese flag, they can remain frozen like this for days, sometimes weeks, hanging on their anchors. When they are given the signal that a berth at their destination port becomes available for unloading their goods produced on the other side of the world, they will start moving again.


These colossal masses of steel - container ships, bulk carriers, tankers ... - are in themselves a perfect symbol of the unshakeable and anonymous flow of globalized trade. But thus stopped in their course in the middle of the St.Lawrence Estuary, they become an anomaly, an aberration at the heart of the economic system: their stationary state in a grandiose natural setting diverts them from the speed and performance objectives normally targeted. by mercantile logic. The large boats then change into floating objects whose function in the landscape is no longer clearly defined: they become repetitive motifs and invite the spectator who stands on the banks to contemplate.


From home, usually installed in my living room behind a foggy window, I photographed hundreds of these ships through the eyepiece of an approach telescope. The circular images thus obtained are degraded in optical terms - by the distance, by the elements, by the rudimentary side of the camera; stripped of their original black outline, they take on the appearance of stars and gain in poetry what they lose in their descriptive power.

Consult the articles in Le Devoir and Le Soleil and see the capsule of the Drummondville Open Air Museum.

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