For over three decades, Benoit Aquin has conducted photographic research on the modes of human existence and the tragic convergence of environmental and spiritual upheavals.
At the turn of the 21st century, he began a series of projects of a predominantly ecological nature. La Chasse(2002-2009) portrays the relationship between Quebec hunters and their environment; Le Grand Nord (2004) reveals the repercussions of climate change on the ancestral practices of the Inuits. Le Dust Bowl Chinois (2006-2009 ), an investigation of the desertification in northern China, of human origin, was awarded the inaugural Prix Pictet in 2008. A monograph entitled Far East Far West (Les éditions du passage, 2009) closed the cycle.
His attention then turned to the subject of agriculture and world hunger, as reflected in his documentary Les Dépossédés (dir. Mathieu Roy, 2016) and a series entitled L’Agriculture au Québec, un photo-roman d’anticipation (2015). His book Mégantic (Vu, 2015) depicts the devastating shock waves that traversed the small Quebec community after the derailment of a train carrying crude oil.
In 2013, Benoit Aquin completed two major photographic cycles. Yamaska, created in collaboration with art historian Alexis Desgagnés and geobiologist Benoît Tramblay, tracks the course of the Yamaska River and its watershed, painting a vivid portrait in the process. La dimension éthérique du réseau par Anton Bequii (2019)approaches the rise of the technological empire by means of a photo-literary fiction inspired by the theories of Jacques Ellul.
The photographs of Benoit Aquin can be found in the collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Canada Council Art Bank, the National Gallery of Canada, the Banque Pictet in Geneva, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. His works have been exhibited at such major venues as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2008), the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne (2010), the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego (2011), Somerset House in London (2013), the McCord Museum in Montreal (2013), FotoDok in Holland (2014), Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal (1993, 1997, 2003), the Canadian Biennial of the National Gallery of Canada (2012, 2017), and the Rencontres d’Arles in France (1991, 2014, 2018).
Benoit Aquin is represented by the Galerie Hugues Charbonneau in Montreal.