WINNER 2011 CURATORIAL WRITING AWARD (short essay) – ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF ART GALLERIES
Justin Wonnacott I Remember and I Forget,
Sandra Dyck, curator, with an essay by Lilly Koltun.
Ottawa: Carleton University Art Gallery, 2010. Hardcover.
Available through Carleton University Art Gallery, or ABC Art Books Canada.
Let’s at least explore where we are, said the carp, sliding along the floor, and resting by a knife. Hey, photographer, is this about what you need me to see in you?
One last great acknowledgement before the curtain falls and memory dims, but on my terms as the artist, thinks the photographer, slouched in a corner, reading about the tragic end of the tuna and the poisonous aquaculture of the Mekong River catfish3. Is this what I need to remember in you, the vanishing of a species, like Edward Curtis saw the vanishing of the North American Indian? The sickening of the waters and the de-naturing of the farmed fish? Selective truths, hence lies. Am I lover or exploiter? Let me count the ways.
Or worst, and hardest, is this about what I need to see that I’d rather turn my eyes away from and forget?
Am I going to be left out, again? morosely asks the eel.
3. Paul Greenberg, “Tuna’s End,” The New York Times Magazine, 21 June 2010. See Teri Cerny’s video “Dirty Waters, Dangerous Fish” at www.vimeo.com/11817894.
Work In Progress
About: SITTINGS: Photographic Portraiture in Canada, 1890 – 2010
Below is a draft outline for a book, broad in scope and intended for a wide audience. Partly completed, the chapters are oriented around key themes, introduced by a featured practitioner, and overlap in time. Each tracks an issue from its past through to a moment of critical exposure within a milieu of concurrent issues and practitioners. Some enduring themes, such as the constructed mythos of the great photographic portraitist, surface throughout the chapters. The book presents many of these issues for the first time.
No publishers have yet been approached; enquiries are welcome: click contact.
SITTINGS: Photographic Portraiture in Canada, 1890 – 2010
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: 1890s – 1900: UNIQUE OBSESSION
- theme: creative reaction to the exhaustion of the conventional at the end of the 19th C
- featured: HANNAH MAYNARD, composites, manipulations, mug shots, tableaux, multiples, compilations, including precedents. Eli J. Palmer, Evelyn Lambart album, William Notman, J.A. Ringuette, A.R. Cogswell, etc.
CHAPTER 2: 1890s – 1910s: A NEW ART STYLE
- theme: exquisite surfaces as the professionals’ solution to the need for change
- featured: J. FRASER BRYCE/QUÉRY FRÈRES, Notman and Son, H. Hamilton Black, Dupras and Colas, Charles Aylett, A.G. Pittaway, S.J. Jarvis, Gauvin & Gentzel, John Powis, etc.
CHAPTER 3: 1890s – 1920s: DEFIANT DREAMS
- theme: conversion to the ideals of painterly art among amateurs creates the first avant garde
- featured: SIDNEY CARTER, H. Mortimer Lamb, Horace Boultbee, A.S. Goss, Newton McTavish, R. Flaherty, E.S. Curtis, Margaret Watkins; influence on commercial photographers: S.J. Jarvis, Minna and Violet Keene, Nathan Gettelmacher (Gilbert Studio), Mackenzie and Cutten, etc.
CHAPTER 4: 1900s – 1920s: TESTIMONY/TESTIMONIAL
- theme: portraits as a mass media threat to tradition and an opportunity for new voices in growing newspapers, magazines, news reels, advertising, government uses, and among marginalized groups
- featured: WILLIAM JAMES AND SONS, John Woodruff, A.P. Low, Geraldine Moodie, A.A. Chesterfield, A.S. Goss, J.J. Kelso, Mattie Gunterman, Harry Pollard, B.A. Haldane, C.D. Hoy, Mary Schaeffer, Edith S. Watson, Ernest Brown, C.W. Mathers, J.F. Atterton, Georgia Cunningham, N.E.A. (Newspaper Enterprise Assn), Associated Screen News, Canada Newspaper Syndicate Ltd., M.O. Hammond, Nelson Quarrington, Eugene M. Finn, Brodie Whitelaw, etc.
CHAPTER 5: 1920s – 1930s: FRESH AMBITIONS
- theme: the yearnings of an inter-war place and time, and the mythos of the great photographic portraitist, absorbed by a new “oriental” immigrant
- featured: young YOUSUF KARSH, T.G. Jaycocks, A.G. Nakash, J.A. Castonguay, J. Vanderpant, later S. Carter, National Gallery of Canada photo shows, Johan Helders, H.F. Kells, etc
CHAPTER 6: 1940s – 1950s: HOT AND COLD WARS
- theme: the action of portraits on public opinion as a heroic endeavour
- featured: JOHN GRIERSON/NFB, Ronny and Louis Jaques, Richard Harrington, Ken Bell, Yousuf Karsh (inc. cold war ads, factory views), Chris Lund, etc.; anonymous views (Thomas W. McLean POW collection, Edmond Alfred Blais fonds)
CHAPTER 7: 1940s – 1950s: GLAMOUR AND CATHARSIS
- theme: resolving profound anxieties of sitter, creator, viewer
- featured: YOUSUF KARSH at apogee, Jock Carroll, Roloff Beny, Paul Rockett, Peter Croydon, etc.
CHAPTER 8: 1950s – 1970s: COMMITMENT
- theme: socially engaged interpretive imagery as the new essential truth
- featured: MICHEL LAMBETH, Walter Curtin, Sam Tata, Gabor Szilasi, Lutz Dille, John Reeves, Ted Grant, Montreal Star, Kryn Taconis, Horst Ehricht, Duncan Cameron, Tom Gibson, Bern Will Brown, Peter Pitseolak, Fred Herzog, Robert Minden, etc.
CHAPTER 9: 1950s – 1980s: ALIENATION
- theme: socially repudiating, critical stances; raw expressionism of anxiety
- featured: JOHN MAX, Pierre Gauvin-Évrard, Michael Semak, David Heath, Pierre Gaudard, Sylvain P. Cousineau, Condé and Beveridge, John Paskievich, Angela Grauerholz, etc.
CHAPTER 10: 1960s – 1980s: MAINSTREAMING THE ART
- theme: photographic images and issues re-framed as art again, this time, within an infrastructure of acceptance
- featured: RAYMONDE APRIL, Disraëli project (Groupe d’action photographique: Michel Campeau, Claire Beaugrand-Champagne, Roger Charbonneau, Cedric Pearson; later joined by Gabor Szilasi, Pierre Gaudard), Judith Eglinton, NFB gallery from c 1965/67, Av Isaacs gallery, Pénélope Cousineau, Michael Torosian, Sandra Semchuk, Michel Saint-Jean, Pamela Harris, Frank Pimentel, Denis Plain, Robert Taillefer, David Neel, Vincenzo Pietropaolo, Nina Raginsky, Andrew Danson, Paul Orenstein, Ursula Heller, Clara Gutsche, Orest Semchishen, Susie King, James Stadnick, Barbara Astman, Jean-François Bérubé, Lawrence Chrismas, etc. (and its legacy: V. Tony Hauser, Chick Rice, Michael Mitchell, others, through 1990s-2010)
CHAPTER 11: 1970s – 1980s: AN ALTERNATIVE AVANT GARDE
- theme: challenges to art intentions and images from within the art construct
- featured: ARNAUD MAGGS, Suzy Lake, Evergon, George Steeves, Michael Schreier, Karen Smiley, Jack Burman, Michael Snow, Lisa Steele, Irene Whittome, etc.
CHAPTER 12: 1980s – 2000: POSTMODERN CAPERS
- theme: dismantling, re-framing, mocking reflexivity, searching in the margins for counter-intuitive reflections of the self, the subject, the viewer, the medium, cross-over to photo-based art
- featured: GENERAL IDEA, JEFF WALL, Charlotte Rosshandler, Rodney Werden, Sorel Cohen, Istvan Kantor, Geneviève Cadieux, Ian Wallace, Steven Livick, Andrew Danson, later M. Schreier, later David Heath, Sara Angelucci, Michael de Courcy, Marie-Jeanne Musiol, Patrick Altman, Stan Douglas, Janieta Eyre, Rafael Goldchain, Linda Dawn Hammond, Micah Lexier, Paul Litherland, Kevin Madill, Theodore Wan, etc. (photo-influenced painting: Steven Shearer, Charles Pachter, Attila Richard Lukacs, Evan Penny, Karel Funk)
CHAPTER 13: 1990s – 2010: IMPEACHMENTS
- theme: roar back from the margins; hybridity and the new social consciousness
- featured: JIN-ME YOON, DONIGAN CUMMING, Barbara Woodley, Lorraine Gilbert, Lori Stadnick, Ken Lum, Steven Andrews, Rosalie Favell, Jeff Thomas, Carl Beam, David Neel, KC Adams, Jane Ash Poitras, Kent Monkman, Lincoln Clarkes, Condé and Beveridge, Diana Michener, Lori Newdick, Andrew Stawicki/PhotoSensitive, Larry Towell, Tony Fouhse, etc.
CHAPTER 14: 1990s – 2010: FUTURE INTENSE
- theme: where to now? a-v, digital/interactive, the cool intensity of deflected pain
- featured: LUC COURCHESNE, John Oswald, Pascal Grandmaison, Nicola Feldman-Kiss, Max Dean, later Maggs, Spring Hurlbut, Cheryl Sourkes, Sara Angelucci, Tetsuomi Anzai, Annie Baillargeon, Bertrand Carrière, Olga Chagaoutdinova, Dave Kemp, Tim Lee, Elaine Stocki, Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak, Peter Wilkins, etc.
TOTAL: c. 300 text pages, plus c. 80 plates and c. 120 figures, mixed b/w and colour; totaling c. 400 pages in all