“I initially was interested in cars as a kid, bragging with my friends about what car I’ll drive when I’m rich and older. Now that I am one of those things, I still don’t have my license to drive one yet,” Alex Blouin laughs.
The Montreal-based photographer, whose work we previously posted on the site back in October when he took us behind the scenes and into the stands of Canadian tennis tournament the Roger’s Cup has returned, this time with The Car Show, a full-throttle immersion into the the petrol-headed world of car fantastics.
“Every summer my friends and I would receive The Car Guide of the Year,” Alex says of a youth spent pouring over the finer details of sports cars. “It’s this big book with the new cars of the year, full of colourful images, super satisfying charts giving us all the stats on the cars, with a major consistency in appreciation of detail. This shoot has been in my mind for a long time because of how strongly these visuals have effected my way of seeing,” he continues.
The Car Show is the result of not one but three trips on consecutive years to the Salon de l’Auto de Montréal or Montreal International Auto Show, an annual car show held for ten days each January. “Over 200,000 people each year attend the spectacle of the Salon de l’Auto de Montréal,” Alex explains. “It’s an occasion for car fans or future buyers to attend and give in to the experience the manufacturers’ have prepared for them, like a fashion week for car companies. The show is extremely busy so you have to go with the flow (or not) of large groups of gents, families, couples and singles coming from all around the province to get a peek or even sit down in a real car.”
“The visual noise the commotion creates makes it ideal to observe people fantasising and experimenting with the cars. What takes place at the show is a unique dialogue between the man and the machine. There is a real intimacy that takes place in the discovery of the new machine; touching and caressing the auto body.”
Salon de l’Auto de Montréal provides the perfect incubator for a photographer to thrive in the throng of ageing white male car fanatics. “From all the excitement as a voyeur and photographer I get placed in my own ultimate fantasy,” Alex tells us. “The people in attendance don’t mind their photo taken for a lot of reasons — people are feeling proud, impressed, and expect you’re feeling the same highs. Each car company is in their own competition to entertain the public the most, so attendees are on their own journeys and often are documenting their own experiences heavily. Finally you’re in a social setting with strangers where your camera isn’t a foreign object to be potentially threatening.”
“As I adjusted to the environment of the event, one of my first observations was the similarity to the presentation of these vehicles in their theatrical stage to the guides I used to love; sports car are placed in urban settings, mini-vans on a suburban street, trucks in the middle of a construction site,” Alex concludes. “Seeing the complex lighting, columns, rotating platforms, walls of material sampling and surrounded by manufacturer representatives in uniforms, the literalness of the stage became highly transparent.
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