Cage Call: Artist explores lost [mining] histories – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – September 22, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

When photographer Louie Palu set out to learn more about mining, his plan was to spend one month at a mine in Kirkland Lake. That was in 1991. Instead, 12 years, two provinces and thousands of photos later, the project came to an end.

“My dad told me about Kirkland Lake,” Palu said, speaking on the phone. “He was working up there. He’s not a miner. He was just working with some mining people.

“I’ve always been interested in these underrepresented histories and stories, especially sociopolitical ones. Suddenly from Kirkland Lake I got to Timmins, then Sudbury, Val d’Or and (Rouyn)-Noranda. There were all these sort of lost histories, these really important lost histories. I just felt like this story needed to be told.”

Since then, he’s been telling the story through two books and his photos, which have been put on display at art galleries and shows all over the world, including Sweden, France and the United States.

This month, the exhibit, entitled Cage Call: Life and Death in the Hard Rock Mining Belt is making its debut at the Art Gallery of Sudbury as part of the gallery’s Nickel City Stories exhibition.

“It’s quite profound, I think, with the photographs, and it’s a good way to start this series off,” said Shelagh Dabous, manager of development and communications for the gallery.

“The whole idea of Cage Call, of men getting ready to go underground and work, seemed a perfectly good fit to begin our series.”

Palu’s book, Cage Call, which he worked on with then journalist and current Timmins- James Bay MP Charlie Angus, will be for sale at the gallery.

“I think initially people are interested in the photographs. First they’re like wow, that’s an interesting visual, that’s a great piece of art,” Palu said, explaining the wide appeal of the photos. “And then they read the history and they’re like wow, that really happened?

“I think it’s an exercise in his-t ory, and people are really interested in history. People like being told or learning something they don’t know about, and I think that’s what those photos represent for a lot of people, whether they’re in Toronto, Sudbury or another city in the world.”

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