Through the medium of photography, my work creates connections between the histories of places, and their present social and built environments. The forms the built environment and landscape take reflect the needs and desires of the population that occupies them, and are constantly changing. I often photograph spaces which embody this constant change, spaces which have been shaped as much by external economic cycles as they have by small human interventions.
Interiors are of particular interest to me, as they often reveal much about a space’s use, history and occupants. While the exteriors of the places I photograph may be modified to look more current, or disguise the building’s use, the insides often remain unchanged, and therefore disclose much more about the place’s history and occupants. Often these spaces will exhibit a kind of physical layering of materials, modifications both structural and decorative. The absence of people in many of the pictures emphasizes the importance of this phenomenon, of functional architecture becoming palimpsest of many people’s use and interaction with the space throughout time.
Often I focus on smaller communities like the one I grew up in, whose history has been closely intertwined with that of industry and changing modes and routes of transportation. Their status as both independent from, and dependent on larger economic and societal trends can place them in a tenuous position which is at times reflected in their built environment. The cyclical nature of resource-based industries shape the downtowns, while the decision to create new highways or cut rail service through a town has lasting impacts on the direction of a cities development and residents.
This interest in small communities, their economies and connections with urban centres were points of departure for my more recent work on the fur industry in Canada. Represented both by the community of garment manufacturers in Montreal, and the small communities themselves from which the raw materials flow, this ongoing project is an amalgamation of many of my concerns explored in previous work. However, where my previous work considered mostly 20th century development, this project, while focused on the present, cannot help but deal with a much longer timeline of Canadian history.
While my work is grounded in traditions of documentary media, it simultaneously questions the history and validity of the practice. I am very interested in the intersection of documentary, a largely 20th-century creation, and longer-established art forms such as painting and sculpture. At times I explore this overlap through visual references in my photographs or by making the photographic image itself more sculptural in it’s presentation. My work thus takes many forms, from traditional colour photographs, to lightboxes and projection media which implicate the viewer more physically with their scale.