September 23 2011
La Petite Mort Gallery presents
September 23 – 29, 2011
Vernissage Friday Sept 23 / 7 -10pm
USER was always conceived as a multiyear project. A series of
portfolios that, though shot on just one 30 meter strip of sidewalk
and using portraiture only, aimed to explore the face and the feel
of the addicts who congregate there.
The latest (and last) work from this project, USER 2010, is a series
of images, shot simply, in natural light, almost snapshots. Echoes of
all the previous shooting I have done on the corner, about faces and
relationships. A summation.
USER STATEMENT (previous years)
There’s a corner in Ottawa where anarchy reigns. The people who inhabit that corner aren’t terrorists. They don’t blow stuff up nor do they want to overthrow any system or government. Mostly they just want to be left alone to fight their pain. Their weapon of choice is crack cocaine; the battleground is their bodies and their spirit. Crack addicts.
Since 2007 I’ve been going to this corner over and over again, obsessed. Obsessed with documenting the feel and the face of this small society. I work with a camera and the cooperation and acceptance of the addicts I’m photographing. They know me, I know them. We have an understanding. The work I’m doing there feels like collaboration. Some have said I’m collaborating with the enemy. They say that the addicts on that corner should be swept away. Of course, where they’ll go, how they’ll be treated is left unsaid. Addiction has always been with us, always will be. Lip service and knee-jerks count for nothing.
I don’t go down to that corner to fight for or against the addicts, I’m not there to judge. I’m there as an observer, one who has a point of view and the means to express that point of view. The casual passerby will see ugliness and conflict and degradation on that corner. Those all exist there, as they do on other corners, in other places.
But there are other emotions and dynamics to be seen there, too. I see community and fellowship, I see street mothers looking after the young women. I see one kind of pain being replaced with another kind of pain, one that is somehow – we can’t even begin to imagine – more acceptable to the addict. I see creativity, friendship and humanity. I see humans.