Shelley Miller


Detail of billboard (composite image).


Montreal, Quebec (Duke St. at corner of William St.), 2009. 66” × 138” (168cm × 350cm)

Cargo is a public billboard initiative with the Darling Foundry presented in the context of le Mois de la Photo à Montréal (The Month of Photo), a biennale of contemporary photography that occurs in Montreal every 2 years. This project involved 2-parts: The first component was the creation of a sugar mural, created in the guise of a traditional ceramic “azulejo”. The image depicted speaks of the history of sugar, linking the port of Montreal into the global network of sugars history and the slave trade that supported this industry. The image links source and destination for all of the “cargo” related to this history, both sugar barrels and human cargo that were carried across the oceans.

An online interactive version of Cargo's demise can be found here. Tiles can be faded in 4 stages by scrolling over them and can be moved around or off the frame by clicking-and-dragging.

Day 1.
Day 2.
Day 3.
Day 5.
Day 7.
Billboard (composite image).

Documentation of this temporary sugar mural was then used to create a photomontage, using various images from the murals demise. The resulting image is a double trompe l’oeil: a photo representation of an original that was a trompe-l’oeil of a ceramic mural. It opens a dialogue on perception of both the ephemeral and the permanent, as well as perception of history and truth. This backlit public billboard will remain for 4-years. For more images and info, visit the project blog.

Details of billboard (composite image).
Details of billboard (composite image).
Backlit photo billboard seen at night.