Montreal gets the first look at the GAIA exhibit

June 22, 2011

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From September 1 to October 10, the Quartier des spectacles will host the world premiere of the GAIA exhibit, the photographic result of the 2009 "social and poetic mission" undertaken by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté on the International Space Station.

by Marie-Pierre Bouchard
The public will be able to view, for free, over 50 giant photographs shot 350 kilometres from the surface of the Earth. This makes Guy Laliberté the first private space traveller to exhibit his "vacation photos". This amazing perspective let him catch unseen landscapes, even at speeds of over 28,000 kilometres per hour, which took him through 16 orbits every 24 hours for 11 days! It goes without saying that these visual documents are tremendously rare and captivatingly beautiful, all the more so that none of them have been retouched. Many photos offer a close-up glimpse of fine details, making a natural work of art out of an abstract grouping of colours and textures.


Photo credit | Guy Laliberté
Photo credit | Guy Laliberté
Photo credit | Guy Laliberté
While waiting for your chance to see these extraordinary photos at the Promenade des Artistes in the Quartier des spectacles, you can get the 300-page book version published by Éditions Assouline. All profits from the sale of the book will benefit ONE DROP, a nonprofit organization founded by Guy Laliberté.*

Guy Laliberté says that he didn't envision this project when he set out for space. Of course, he had state-of-the-art photo equipment with him that could capture the kind of images he wanted to bring back from his journey. But it was only after seeing the results that he thought about sharing them with the public: "I showed the  photographs to my photographer friends, to get their opinion. They said that I passed the quality-control test! From that point on, my goal was to reach people with my photographs. I took the time to choose quotes from books and poems, written by more significant people than I, and juxtaposed them with my photographs. All the excerpts point to the same thing: urging us to take care of the paradise where we live, Gaia, our Earth."

Some examples of the texts that accompany the photos:

"Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams" - Charles Baudelaire

"It will flow, water, under bridges / It will flow from clouds / Above the trees / And the highest eaves / The Earth in its turns and loops / And will continue its voyage / Carrying my body along with my song" - Gilles Vigneault

The GAIA exhibit and book, just like Guy Laliberté's space voyage, are dedicated to increasing awareness of the water issues that confront humanity. These photographs of our greatest treasure -- the Earth -- highlight the need to take action to preserve it for future generations.

*About ONE DROP: An initiative of Guy Laliberté, this international NGO has its headquarters in Montreal. The creative projects led by ONE DROP aim to increase popular awareness of water issues, and to encourage the adoption of responsible water-management practices.