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Lorraine Gilbert

Paysages canadiens 1988 – 2013

August 17 to October 27, 2013

In 1987, while planting trees in British Columbia, Gilbert began a seven-year photo project documenting the forestry industry from a tree planter’s point of view. Stylistically, she borrowed the panoramic aesthetic of early Wild West explorers and Ansel Adams’s fine art approach to the mountain wilderness, still pristine and untouched for the most part even in the early 20th century. The body of work that arose from this experience, Shaping the New Forest, testifies to the far-ranging impact of Canada’s natural resource exploitation on the environment.

Twenty years later, Gilbert turned her camera on the landscape of Quebec and found it reshaped by economic parameters. The fallout from free-trade deals and the impact of globalization have led to a surfeit of local and collective cultural disasters the world over: the death of family farms and the small towns upon which they depend; the loss of jobs with the depletion of primary resources; the exodus of rural populations to the cities. Global economics has shifted wealth dramatically, leaving much of North America in a state of decline. And Quebec is no exception. Le Patrimoine depicts a cultural landscape slowly transformed in the collision of environmental and economic imperatives. Moving from the rural to the urban, and reflecting this collision at a macro scale, The Messengers takes us to the sites of graffiti artistes, to look not at their already ubiquitous work, but at the detritus that they leave behind. The photographs are aesthetic reconstructions of the ground from wich they work, their studio floor, while they exercise their own form of political art-making and reclaiming of public space.

Gilbert’s latest work, a diptych titled Once (Upon) a Forest, takes a radically different approach to the landscape. Here the high-res, plastic quality of the scanning process reveals the complexity and plenitude of a mixed deciduous boreal forest over the length of a growing season. Parallel views show how, in less than 200 years, such forests have been transformed into treeless, weedy vacant lots on the outskirts of countless cities, like this one teeming with weeds and flowers just west of downtown Ottawa.

This exhibition presents photographs taken over the 25-year period from 1988 to 2013.

Presentation on Saturday, September 14, at 2pm
Opening \ Launch on Saturday, September 14, at 3pm