CAAF Residency st[art]@art central, October – November 2012
My family history was built on a Utopia.
One of my French ancestors left for the New World in the late 17th century in the hope of living better days. After settling in the province of Quebec under the name of Plamondon, he started a family. A few generations later, after living for some time in Michigan, a convoy of pioneers led by Joseph Plamondon trekked all the way to Canada, the Promised Land. At that time, to discover and develop Western Canada, the government promised to sell 160 acres for the modest sum of $10. After a long and arduous journey, on July 28, 1908 they stopped near a grove of spruce trees and a small creek where Joseph Plamondon decided to settle. They then built the first house in this place and named it Plamondonville, later shortened to Plamondon. Despite the climate and economic challenges, the community continues to grow and expand, while keeping the French culture of their ancestors.
In 1959, my grandmother, Dianne Plamondon, met my French-born grandfather, who had immigrated to Canada ten years before. He worked as a surveyor for the program “One Day – One Mile”, set up by the government to build roads in Alberta. After getting married, they went to live in France and had their three children. This romance was told to me in my childhood by my grandmother who has continued to maintain strong links with her family in Canada.
At the age of six, I discovered Plamondon for the first time. A big party was organized to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of my great-grandparents, Emile and Gladys Plamondon. We were all gathered round the lake of Lac La Biche with a multitude of people who were my cousins, aunts and uncles. I remember a blue wooden boat in front of which we posed for a picture. This boat, using by our ancestors to navigate on the lake, perfectly illustrates our history: that of a community founded on an unusual family adventure. This “epic story”, attached to my childhood memories, was gradually transformed into what I now call my Family Mythology.
I am conducting a photographic and documented investigation on the heritage of my ancestors and on the contemporary reality of their descendants. Lévi-Strauss discusses the idea of myth as a fundamental character of our society. He suggests that although we as a society no longer believe in myths, the widespread and cross-cultural nature of the themes and narratives in myths tells of our common history and origins. The need for belonging and being affiliated is the very essence of human beings. Proximity, “being together” is a way to survive and structure oneself. The history of this family that seeks to build its own territory is universal. It helps us to understand what we share with all people throughout the world.