“Early Sunday Morning” – a Cold and Magnificent Portrait of Montreal

 

couvJC Here is the cover of this mysterious and poetic photography book named “Early, on a Sunday Morning” (Tôt un dimanche matin) made by Julien Coquentin, referring to the “Early Sunday Morning” painting by Edward Hopper (1930). In the introduction of his book (in french), Julien says he recognize himself in the work of the painter, the way Hopper looked at the city, mostly focusing on daily life, walking distances, close-ups, sidewalks and empty streets. They both show the city as empty, “human free”, yet at a very human scale.

The work of Julien Coquentin is very intimate. You can tell that pictures are always taken from the street, sometimes very close to the ground as if the photographer was crouching or even laying down on the wet floor.

“It gives an impression of being totally immersed in a sea of grey asphalt, to feel cold and lonely but strangely appeased and safe at the same time”

 

Julien is not a pro photograph. He works as a nurse and was doing night shifts in the E.R. during the two years he spent in Montreal. This nostalgic and gorgeous photo book is only a sample of a vast collection of Montreal photographs Julien started to take when he got in Montreal, in April 2010. Until June 2012, he would publish one picture per day on his website  in a set called “Montreal Journal”, which makes a total of around 700 pictures.

You can look at the unpublished (not in the book) pictures of the Montreal Journal photographs on the author Flickr Set.

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Julien was living in the Mile End neighborhood, a very english-hipster spot also highly multicultural, between the Saint Laurent Boulevard, the Plateau and Little Italy. Most of the picture he took indeed depict the area (the Rosemont Viaduc, the Saint Viateur famous bagel shop, the industrial relic of the past around), but also show downtown buildings (like the one on the right, on the board above), the Old Port (like the board below), the jewish neighborhood Outremont and other less famous streets.

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Coquentin says he enjoyed getting out of the E.R. in the early mornings, when the city is still asleep, cold, raw, authentic. It feels like the city wears no make up, that “she” is just herself, sleepy and misty, and that you own the streets, the light, the buildings. Those very intimate moments of walking from work to home after nights we can imagine being busy, sometimes dramatic,  lead to a very unique atmosphere that makes Julien’s look at the city very different from the usual clichés.

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The book is available on the Edition La Main Donne Website : http://www.lamaindonne.fr/lamaindonne/tot.html, for 25 euros. If you’d like to get it delivered outside of Europe, contact the editor at editions.lamaindonne@orange.fr for details and fees.

Definitely a great book to have at home for some occasional poetic escapes in the empty, wet, cold and beautiful streets of Montreal.

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“Early Sunday Morning” painting, by Edward Hopper, in 1930