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Transits and Migrations: A Summer in Berlin

October 27, 2016–April 15, 2017
Opening reception: Thursday, October 27, 6–8 p.m.
Porch and University Galleries
Center for Documentary Studies
1317 W. Pettigrew St.
Durham, NC  27705

Duke’s summer course, Capturing the City: Documentary Photography in Berlin, pushed students to immerse themselves fully in one of Europe’s most dynamic capital cities. They interpreted scenes of cultural life, public spaces, landscapes, and people. Project fieldwork sites included Tempelhof airfield—a Nazi-era airport made famous during the 1948–1949 Berlin Airlift and now used as a public park and reception center for refugees—as well as the U-Bahn, Berlin’s subway system. Students also wrote fictional short stories based on vintage photographs purchased at Berlin flea markets and met with Berlin-based documentary photographers and writers.

Transits and Migrations: A Summer in Berlin includes work by students Rachel Corr, Dai Li, Ellen Liew, Barbara McHugh, Iliana Sun, Genevieve Valladao, Katlyn Walther, Wenqin Wang, and Deanna White, as well as recent John Hope Franklin Award winners Grace Farson and Amirah Jiwa and class instructor Christopher Sims.

The class and exhibition were supported by Duke University’s Duke-in-Berlin program, German Department, Center for Documentary Studies, as well as The Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation Endowment Fund. Deanna White’s independent study was supported by the Center for International Studies Undergraduate Summer Overseas Travel Research Award and her senior year research work with Christopher Sims was also supported by funding through Humanities Writ Large. The Duke-in-Berlin summer program is offered through Global Education for Undergraduates; the program director is Susanne Freytag, the academic director is Jakob Norberg, and the resident director is Jochen Wohlfeil. DOCST 271S—Capturing the City: Documentary Photography in Berlin—is cross-listed with GERMAN, ARTVIS, and VMS.

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Post Mégantique

December 5, 2016–February 18, 2017
Reception, artists' talk, and book signing January 12, 2017
Kreps and Lyndhurst Galleries
1317 W. Pettigrew St.
Durham, NC 27707


Canadian documentary photographer Michel Huneault was awarded a solo show at CDS as part of the Lange-Taylor Prize, which he won in 2015 for Post Mégantic, his project on a small town in Quebec that was the site of Canada’s deadliest train disaster in 150 years. The $10,000 prize supports documentary artists, working alone or in teams, whose extended fieldwork projects rely on the interplay of words and images.

A meditation on loss and mourning, Post Mégantic incorporates photographs, videos, oral histories, and installations to tell the story of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, where on the night of July 6, 2013, a cargo train from North Dakota carrying nearly 8 million liters of shale oil derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and effectively destroying the town. From a population of 6,000, one out of every 128 citizens died. The explosion leveled most of the town center, creating a 400-meter-wide area that is still inaccessible.

More information on Michel Huneault and Post Mégantic, including a slideshow and short video

A New York Times Lens Blog story, a TIME Lightbox story, and a PDN Pulse feature on Huneault, Post Mégantic, and the Lange-Taylor Prize

“After fourteen visits and seventy days on the ground, up to mid-July 2014,” Huneault writes in his project statement, “I had completed a symbolic one year of mourning with the community. . . . Through the seasons and aftershocks, I became friends with many Méganticois, sharing in the ebb and flow of their emotions: pain, anger, hope for healing and peace of mind. Late in 2014, I was present to document another peculiar event: After more than a year of debates, the city decided to flatten half of the Red Zone, the still-contaminated downtown, that had not been destroyed in the explosion but had continued to soak up oil. As a farewell, the zone was opened for eight hours on a single day. For the first time in eighteen months, the citizens had access to the heart of the town before it was erased.”

Huneault describes Post Mégantic as a “requiem to the victims,” a documentary narrative about life, death, the fragility of existence that he hopes will evoke for viewers of the work a “visceral sense of empathy, an appreciation based on introspection, imagination, and compassion.” His collaboration with the people and town of Lac-Mégantic will continue, as he returns “hopefully to find more light and healing.”

CDS Gallery Fall Hours

Monday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m
Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: closed

On occasion, the galleries are closed for installation, maintenance, and university scheduling considerations. Visitors might wish to call 919.660.3663 before they make a special trip to see an exhibition, to ensure that the galleries are open. 
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