In: Canadian photography

Necropolis | Jon Lepp
May 18, 2022

Necropolis | Jon Lepp Necropolis | Jon Lepp, The Open for Business Series @deadendstories Photographs, [Virginia] Woolf claims, "are not an... Read More
Gabrielle de Montmollin | Weird Baby World – Femme Folks Fest Repost
March 14, 2022

Gabrielle de Montmollin’s installation Weird Baby World is both engaging and eerie, employing iconography that is evocative and somewhat unsettling. Bart Gazzola offers a response to this street level exhibition, on display at Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) in St. Catharines.

Read More
The Banff Purchase – An Exhibition of Photography in Canada
October 22, 2021

The Banff Purchase
An Exhibition of Photography in Canada
John Wiley and Sons, 1979

It never ceases to amaze me how many incredible books one can find at local used bookstores and antique markets. The Banff Purchase is one of them for me. Published in 1979 to celebrate the Banff Centre’s purchase of 153 photographs by seven contemporary (at the time) Canadian photographers, the book is a treasure trove of work by the likes of Nina Raginsky, Orest Semchisen, Lynne Cohen and others. The introduction by Penny Cousineau presages her work to clarify a Canadian artistic identity, as published a quarter century later in Faking Death, previously reviewed on curated here.

Semchisen’s work is a dustier, emptier distillation of Walker Evans’ Depression Era work in the American south. Lynne Cohen is known for her large scale, uninhabited set pieces. Nina Raginsky’s playful, hand-tinted portraits often portray people who are IN the scene, but not OF the scene. Also accompanied by the works of David McMillan, Robert Boudreau, Tom Gibson and Charles Gagnon, the images that comprise The Banff Purchase are a great starting point for anyone wanting to get to know the history of Canadian photography.

Long out of print, you can find this book quite inexpensively in the aforementioned places, or online.

For more images see the full post here.

~ Mark Walton

Read More
Faking Death
July 24, 2021

Penny Cousineau-Levine
Faking Death
Canadian Art Photography and the Canadian Imagination
McGill-Queen’s University Press

Penny Cousineau-Levine’s “Faking Death” is considered by many to come closest to defining the characteristics of “Canadian” art; specifically the photographic arts but her conclusions can be applied to visual, performing and literary arts as well. She posits that the photographs she used for her study (all artistic photos by a select group of artists taken between 1950 and the 1990’s) are rarely about the referent… as she puts it, “a pipe in Canadian photography isn’t usually a pipe. It’s probably a crucifix”. This “dislocation” is at odds with straight American documentary photography, where the “truth” of the image is its most important characteristic.

The book, although academic in tone (indeed it was written in an attempt to describe to her university students the notion of a Canadian tradition of art), is a captivating read and draws many more fascinating conclusions. Once enlightened by her observations, you can’t help but see the characteristics she lays out in almost every piece of Canadian work.

This book is a MUST read for all Canadian artists and art lovers. It is available at McGill-Queen’s University Press. ~ Mark Walton

Read More
Saskatchewan: Uncommon Views
June 9, 2021

Saskatchewan: Uncommon Views, John Conway, 2005

Full disclosure: I know John Conway, as our tenures in ‘next year’s country’ of Saskatchewan overlapped, and I obtained a copy of Uncommon Views when it first came out. Saskatchewan visual culture is rife with stereotypical landscapes, but Conway offered something different, whether it be the vibrant variety of colours or the almost irreverently morose tone. Conway would leave Saskatchewan for B.C. not long after this book was published, and I would depart ten years later, so in some ways Uncommon Views is a memento, or perhaps a memento mori. John’s words resonate with me: ‘Collectively, the photographs tell something of the story of this place that was my home for much of my adult life. Themes from this story of Saskatchewan are: Promise, Survival, Sentimentality, New Jerusalem, Quirky, and Quietus.’

Accompanying texts from Sharon Butala, David Carpenter and Helen Marzolf all offer a considered response to Conway’s images, by writers who understand that “the plain is a metaphysical landscape…where there is almost nothing to see, there [one] sees the most.” (Wright Morris)

Originally published by the University of Alberta Press (a prophet is without honour in their own country, ahem, as ironically the year of publication was Saskatchewan’s centennial year), Uncommon Views is now out of print, but copies can be purchased from the artist. ~ Bart Gazzola

Read More
Untitled, from Joe Martz’s Underpass series
July 15, 2021

Waterloo Ontario based photographer and graphic designer Joe Martz has a strong eye for the architectural. His ability to capture the beauty in the details and structure of buildings and infrastructure we barely notice as we walk by them is powerful. One cannot help but begin to seek them out on one’s own after seeing his work.

A member of the foto:RE collective, Joe seeks the “strong lines, patterns and symetry” of a subject and often tries to find an “abstract perspective to present a different view”.

Joe’s work can be found on Instgram @joemartz and at joemartz.com – Mark Walton

Read More
Gabrielle de Montmollin | Weird Baby World
August 13, 2021

Gabrielle de Montmollin’s installation Weird Baby World is both engaging and eerie, employing iconography that is evocative and somewhat unsettling. Bart Gazzola offers a response to this street level exhibition, on display at Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) in St. Catharines.

Read More