In: Penny Cousineau-Levine
The Banff Purchase – An Exhibition of Photography in CanadaOctober 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 WaltonRead More
Faking DeathJuly 24, 2021
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 WaltonRead More