Canadian photographer Michel Huneault has won the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize from The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University, CDS announced today. Huneault was recognized with the $10,000 award for his project documenting the aftermath of an oil train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.
The award, named in honor of the partnership between documentary photographer Dorothea Lange and writer Paul Taylor, supports long-term documentary work that combines images and words to tell a story.
Huneault’s project, “Post Mégantic,” relies on photographs, videos, oral histories, and installations to delve into the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion in 2013, which levelled the Lac-Mégantic town center and left one in 128 citizens dead. Huneault has spent more than two months in the town over the course of fourteen trips, and he plans to use the the Lange–Taylor Prize to continue the project.
“I’ll keep going back [to Lac-Mégantic]—hopefully to find more light and healing—but also up the train track toward North Dakota, to where this oil and darkness originated,” Huneault writes in his project statement. “Today, although Mégantic’s center remains flattened and contaminated while the criminal investigation continues, the tracks were the first thing to be rebuilt and train traffic has resumed. While no oil is transiting here, [they are] passing through other North American towns.”
The Center for Documentary Studies awarded an honorable mention to Alice Leora Briggs and Julián Cardona for their project about violence in Juárez, Mexico. In addition, Serge J-F. Levy received special recognition for his project about relocating from New York City to Tucson, Arizona.
Previous winners Lange-Taylor Prize winners include Antonin Kratochvil and Jan Novak; Donna DeCesare and Luis Rodriguez; Paola Ferrario and Mary Cappello; Larry Frolick and Donald Weber; Teru Kuwayama and Christian Parenti, and Jen Kinney. The prize has been awarded a total of 23 times.