New Criticals

Out West


Neither contemporary nor nostalgic, the production of the visual component for this project was a simple execution. I documented small rural communities (one thousand inhabitants or fewer) in the Canadian West. The built landscapes featured in these images are changing.  Taking a cue from Louis Argon’s Paris Peasant, my goal was to document fixed moments within this ongoing process of change before further transformations took hold of the space. Alternatively, my accompanying written work was diverse and complex. Driven by the visual work, the project raised questions I felt were not adequately being dealt with in Canadian photography. The topics included conceptions of geography, legacy retention, place attachment, identity (of the land and its people) and the questionable dichotomy of urban/rural space.

Working in synergy, the images and text from this project have accumulated into a book—Out West, which illustrates my view of rural Western Canada. Human progress is thoroughly meshed with the idea of the city. The rural, meanwhile, has been disregarded as nothing more than an insignificant has-been with little, if any, relevance to our future. In response to these concerns of rural marginalization, the Out West project apprehensively details the fears, and whimsical interest people take in an environment haunted by a proud past and a uncertain future. The project questions the future of rural areas by foregrounding elements of their past in a contemporary setting. The images of Out West capture a place of past construction, a performance specific to a particular moment in time. They represent a place as it was once viewed, a simulacrum, neither real nor imaginary, that visually exhibits the symptoms of a lag—an urban to rural time lag.