Fraternite Sacerdotale is a social documentary study of a hotel for traveling nuns and priests, who gather from all corners of the world to live together in Montreal, Quebec.
Originally a Hebrew orphanage, the building was repurposed in 1972 by a religious order founded by Father Eugene Prevost. The income from its 19 rooms enables the hotel to be self-sustaining at a time when Catholic institutions in the province are in steep decline. The series comprises the hotel’s common spaces, as well as environmental portraits of the religious core and residents who devoted their lives to their faith and the community to which they belong.
I grew up two blocks away from the hotel and as a child I remember being very curious about the nuns who routinely walked the neighborhood streets in pairs. My approach to the project was to gain the trust of the community, to interact with its residents and document the interior spaces in order to gain a deeper understanding of their way of life.
Spending time at the hotel I was overwhelmed by the feeling that time had slowed inside its residents, decor and color palette are from a bygone era. The photographs from the series were created using a 4×5″ view camera, capturing the beauty and intricate details of each unique space. I was attracted to the symmetry and organization of objects in every room I entered and this speaks to my own personality and photographic style. I attempted to infuse each photograph with as many poignant details as possible, to allow the viewer to wade into the image, to linger in the space much the same way the residents do.
I am deeply interested in how spaces are created and arranged and what they say about those who live in them. Though every bedroom shares the same furniture, wall-to-wall grey carpet and off-white walls, bursts of self-expression can be seen in the arrangement and collection of personal objects. Most notably, the diverse range of bedspreads speaks to an expression of this individuality.
Through this series I wanted to give an audience the opportunity to look into this wonderful world that normally exists behind closed doors to document this unique institution in Quebec, at a time when religion is no longer at the forefront of our society. Some day in the future, the fraternity and hotel will disappear, as its members are aging and no one is replacing them, living out their days in a society that has seemingly passed them by. It is my hope that this series will serve as a reminder and documentation of this unique institution, and a testament to its residents and the community they have created together.
Mika Goodfriend is a visual artist born in Montreal. His work is largely concerned with identity, belonging and culture as it is uniquely expressed through a Quebecois aesthetic. Interested in the intimate living spaces of others, he explores what being a Quebecer means to him by engaging with those who feel they are woven into its cultural fabric. Mika is currently pursuing an MFA in Studio Arts at Concordia University. In 2012, he was the National Winner for the BMO 1st Art! Competition. In 2013 he received the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship from SSHRC, the FQRSC Fonds quebecois de la recherche sur la societe et la culture, as well as a research/creation grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec. His work was shown in solo exhibitions at VU Photo, FOFA Gallery and at Le Labo, as a featured exhibit at the 2014 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. In 2014, he will pursue an eight-month research period abroad affiliated with the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Israel, as part of the CGS Michael Smith Foreign Study Scholarship. His work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States and Europe and is held in private and public collections, including the Bank of Montreal.