April 24 – June 12, 2010
Subjective is a group exhibition featuring work by Canadian photojournalists: Kitra Cahana, Ryan Carter, Simon Hayter, Eamon Mac Mahon, Dominic Nahr, and Liz Rubincam.
Contemporary photojournalistic practices exist under the cloud of a double threat posed by the shifts in traditional news media based in the 21st century democratization of photography via digital imaging. We live in a time when every bystander with a cell phone capable of taking a picture can become a documentarian of record in the moment that events transpire. What has not changed, despite this ubiquitous trend, is the heartfelt compulsion of a new generation to go forth and place themselves at risk to tell a story in hopes that others will see the world differently. It is a pursuit that is in marked contrast to the contemporary trend of archiving one's own life obsessively.
The 6 photographers that are being presented in Subjective are the foundation of a new generation of photojournalists, already accomplished and recognized well beyond their peers. They are all under the age of 35, all hold Canadian passports, all are under the influence of a pervasive medium that tells no truth other than the subjective truths of the photographers themselves. There is a long cherished belief that the photojournalist must be held to a different standard, that they must somehow be an objective voyeur in order to allow the eventual audience to see the world beyond our own sphere of what we know. However, it must be taken into account that while these ethical provocateurs are using a machine to record what they see, the machine itself is absolutely driven by their subjective pursuits and integrity of intention. They each hold a willingness to pursue their narratives to the bone, to take the risks needed to walk a fine line of potential harm, sometimes physical but always emotional, to oneself. They recognize the importance of the repercussions in being an uninflected viewer who neither disrupts, inflates, nor conflates the unfolding of events, yet who desire change in their understanding of life so deeply that they expend their own resources to tell the stories of others. The dissemination of the stories they tell is done in the hope that others will begin to examine their own lives differently.
Of these, several take risks by putting themselves in the midst of conflict: the exodus of Israelis from Gaza (Kitra Cahana), altercations at Caledonia between police, white landholders and aboriginal claimants, (Simon Hayter), the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti (Dominic Nahr). Others show us worlds that pass us by, unnoticed, their intentions in helping us understand social issues beyond our own backyards: the United Arab Emirates (Ryan Carter), women who work as truck-drivers in South Africa (Liz Rubincam), Eamon Mac Mahon, a photographer who ordinarily shows us the planet from spectacular height, brings it back down to earth, documenting the isolated culture in the Tar Sands of Northern Alberta and the environmental advocates who attempt to reveal the threat imposed on our land.
Representative images from a selection of photo essays from each artist will be shown during Contact. The work will be exhibited at both O'Born Contemporary and The Spoke Club to allow for a broader survey from each artist. Demanding of ourselves that we take on the role of slow consumers, traveling between locations, is an action to which we seldom subscribe. Moving through the city will afford the viewer an opportunity to consider the journeys of generations of photojournalists who have dedicated themselves to pursuing the unknown in an effort to tell us more about ourselves, relative to the world beyond our daily routines.
- P Elaine Sharpe – April 2010