La Vallée by Ambroise Tézenas

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A series of photographs that captures gloomy settings in small Canadian villages.

When French photographer Ambroise Tézenas was invited to participate in a two-week artist residency in Québec as part of the Franco-Québec Gaspé–Picardy for Photography partnership, he decided to let the local setting guide the theme of his new work. An award-winning landscape photographer, he has published the celebrated “Theater of the People” photo book and has won the Nikon Story Teller Award for his Cuba series, a commission from The New York Times Magazine. Ambroise Tézenas’ latest book “I Was Here” captures people’s interest in visiting places linked to destruction and death. In Gaspésie, Canada, he started exploring the Matapédia Valley, taking photographs along the way. The series The Valley captures the gloomy landscapes and often dreary settings of small villages.

In contrast with the picture-perfect, sunny coast road that surrounds Gaspésie, the photos show country roads in disrepair, abandoned houses, and quiet residential areas. A thick mist blankets the villages in snow while gray clouds keep the sunshine from brightening the valley. This dark setting provides the perfect backdrop for the photographer’s subjects: a dilapidated house with a caved-in porch, village schools at risk of closure, a local garage without any cars to repair. Even for the medium of photography, the images display a great sense of stillness. Without ever focusing on people directly, the photographer uses the villages themselves and the surrounding landscapes as a way to highlight the challenges of living in struggling communities that shrink from one year to the next. Ambroise Tézenas exhibited The Valley series during the Photaumnales festival in Beauvais, France and at the 8th edition of the Rencontres in Québec. Photographs© Ambroise Tézenas.

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