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Louie Palu: Cage Call

Curator: Gaëlle Morel
University Gallery
Winter 2021

Between 1991 and 2003, Canadian documentary photographer Louie Palu established himself in the mining communities of Northeastern Ontario and Northwestern Quebec. Over time he accumulated an extensive, in-depth body of work that reveals the living and working conditions of the miners, while also capturing the formidable industrial architecture of the pits. Cage Call gathers together more than fifty black-and-white photographs and ephemera from Palu’s visual archive of this central but often overlooked and misunderstood aspect of Canada’s industrial culture.

A black and white photo of a miner wearing protective gear working with a furnace.
Fig. 1

Louie Palu, A furnace tapper using a thermal lance to test the purity of molten nickel in the furnace, which operates at over 1000 degrees Celsius at the Falconbridge Smelter, Falconbridge, Ontario, from the series Cage Call, 2003 (printed 2005), gelatin silver print © Louie Palu, courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

A photo taken from above showing a group of miners in hardhats entering a large doorway.
Fig. 2

Louie Palu, Miners entering the cage on surface for the beginning of day shift, Kerr Mine No. 3 Shaft, Virginiatown, Ontario, from the series Cage Call, 1993 (printed 2005), gelatin silver print © Louie Palu, courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

A miner wearing a hardhat holds a ladder into a dark pit.
Fig. 3

Louie Palu, Harold "Tubby" Burns holding a ladder at the exit of a shrinkage stope, 700 foot level, Cheminis Mine, Larder Lake, Ontario, from the series Cage Call, 1995 (printed 2005), gelatin silver print © Louie Palu, courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

A large industrial structure.
Fig. 4

Louie Palu, East Sullivan Mine, Val d'Or, Quebec, from the series Industrial Cathedrals of the North, 1994 (printed 1998), gelatin silver print © Louie Palu, courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery

Artist Bio

Louie Palu

Louie Palu (Canadian, b. 1968) is a Washington, DC-based documentary photographer and filmmaker. Focusing on socio-political issues, such as war, human rights, and poverty, his photojournalism has been featured worldwide, including in The Globe and MailThe GuardianLe Figaro, El País, and The Washington Post. Palu covered conflicts in Kandahar, Afghanistan (2006–2010); the drug war in Mexico (2011–2013); the Ukrainian crisis (2015); and the militarization of the North American Arctic (2015–2019). He has published five books, including Industrial Cathedrals of the North (1999) and Cage Call: Life and Death in the Hard Rock Mining Belt (2007) on view in this exhibition. In 2016, he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship. Palu is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto.