Movie ~ Le Deluge

Down In The Flood

"Two days in a Catholic country and we get an Act Of God!"

Jeannie Kamins

14 juillet 1987


It is our second day in Montreal. We have moved into a temporary apartment on Avenue du Park and put our stuff in a storage locker in St-Henri.

A massive storm descends on the city. It rains eleven inches in one hour. Cascades shoot off the roofs, filling the streets with flood water mixed with backed-up sewage – not a single basement is spared the inundation. The power goes out. The phones go out. The Decarie Expressway is 17 feet under water – two people drown in their cars. I think to myself – my God, I'm going to have to adjust to this eastern weather.

In St-Henri the Pancanadienne Gianthropological Survey goes down in the flood. Forty-five panoramas are lost and several boxes of early prints are destroyed. A dozen panoramas still in Toronto after my show at the Toronto Photographers Workshop in April survive. Sorel Cohen generously lends her studio for a dry out but the Pancanadienne Gianthropological Survey has effectively come to a watery end.

This three and a half minute movie is stitched together from video footage shot on July 18, four days after the flood, and after the framed art works had been disassembled. Jeannie Kamins also lost drawings, paintings and fabric works going back thirty years in her artist's life. The video was made in order to come to some kind of monetary value for the lost work in case of insurance coverage, but the city declared that an "Act Of God" had taken place and that the insurance industry was off the hook. Mayor Jean Doré, who was out of town on a holiday at the time refused returning to Montreal to deal with the flood aftermath, famously commenting, "What am I supposed to do? Come back with a bucket and bail out basements?"