Artist’s Statement for A New Wilderness
Construction in Vancouver of facilities for the 2010 Olympic Games created such disruption that many nearby small businesses were forced into closure or bankruptcy. Of those who managed to stay open some lost tens of thousands of dollars, one lost millions. For the owners of these businesses the Olympics were as destructive as an earthquake.
The pictures in this exhibition are not their story but part of a record illustrating the cause of their despair; an example of how we destroy our environment temporarily to improve it.
In big cities such as Vancouver change never stops. construction continues endlessly, moving from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. The Olympic Games increased the normal turmoil into a frenzy. This is the modern urban landscape, a new wilderness completely different from what we think of to be Canadian. It remains largely undocumented in photographs.
The photographs in this show are part of my modern landscape series, inspired by a belief that the ordinary must be photographed because when it’s gone we will realize this was the most interesting and important of all that surrounded us. The pictures are records of what we pass by every day without interest or thought, showing this is what we do, this is where we have been, and like a map indicate in some way as to the direction we are heading. The content of the pictures are in the spirit of Eugene Atget, Walker Evans and the almost forgotten Ernst Haas.
This approach to photography follows somewhat in the tradition of a George Eastman House show in 1975 called, “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape”. The photographers in this exhibition rejected the notion of landscape as beauty, isolated from its context. It was an attempt to make photographs with a critical viewpoint but without style. They were returning to the photographs taken by Timothy O’Sullivan in the American west during the 1870’s and rejecting the poetry or drama of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.
If I differ slightly in my approach it’s that I’m not trying to be critical or judgemental, just making an attempt to have people stop and look around them and take note of where they live and how it’s changing.