Register Sunday | November 29 | 2020

Spirit of the Night

Eleven years ago, I moved from France to Montreal. I’d always been attracted by North American culture, and with my graphic designer job contract in Paris ending, it was the perfect time to experiment with living in a different country. 

The first years were full of novelties and frequently amazed me: the Plateau architecture! The skyscrapers! The deep freeze of the winters, and the way the trees, parks, flowers sprang back to life in spring. But after a while, the routines of daily life started to fade my sense of discovery. 

I was studying photography at Concordia University and also working almost full-time; most of my classes were in the evening. Making my way home, I started noticing that some places I found boring in the morning became beautiful at night. It felt like looking at them for the first time.

I grew up in Lyon, France, where every December 8, children go walking in the streets holding lanterns, while people put little candles on their windowsills. It’s called the “Fête des Lumières.” I also remember taking drives with my family, gazing out at city lights through the backseat window. I was at peace—I loved it so much I always wished the rides would continue forever. It was magic. Walking through Montreal’s empty streets at night, taking photographs, I was continuing that journey, looking at lights and spaces to create a new reading of the city. The images I made came to embody a personal view of what my new home is made of, collecting motifs that stuck in my memory, like neon signs, or certain textures, or certain buildings. No matter how routine my life gets, looking at these photographs always reminds me why I love Montreal so much.