WorkSpace Canada on Pause
Like many other artists I had to let go of this year's ambitious plans - for the obvious reason of a world being unhinged by the spread of a virus. The time line was already set for my 2020 departure going back on production for WorkSpace Canada. Among other places, the intended tour was meant to bring me to the Yukon for the first time, maybe briefly even to the NWT. I was hoping to nearly complete the project geographically this year. I was supposed to leave in September but considering the current circumstances I had to cancel the whole undertaking last week. Believe me, it was done with a heavy heart, though I am aware that many people in the world have to make sacrifices worse than mine.
As I was often speaking of the project's upcoming completion, I should mention what its intermediate status is at the moment. Believing my statistics, I have gathered 227 occupational fields since that day in April 2006 when I photographed Ben Cleveland on the Mississauga truck terminal. Quite a meaningful day for me, as it officially marks the very first pictures made for this project. In total I exposed and developed precisely 1,168 rolls of medium format film so far and digitized about 3,500 images from the negative strips with high resolution scanners.
Besides the two geographical areas being still due, I am eager to add a number of new work fields to the collection. Either because I consider them important as a Canadian profession / labour specifically, or for being of great significance for our day and time in general. Examples for gaps that I would like to fill are: the work on cross-country hydro poles, the environment of large computer server rooms, biotechnology, the work with sled dog and the maintenance of winter roads, the specific work reality of sex workers as well as something so seemingly mundane like the postal service.
So what is it that I am planning to do now? Very good question these days. First of all I decided to use the extra time for gelatin silver printing. I began to use a new developer duo and can happily announce that the 2020 prints have pushed another step further in quality. Currently I am building up two specific print collections - one featuring the Navy, the other focussing on the 2018 Alberta production (samples from the latter can be seen in the Alberta Views article, January/February 2020). The prints are meant mainly for potential exhibits, some of them also for collector's sale. The next printing session will be destined to create industrial landscape triptychs, particularly for collector's interest. I will present some drafts soon and will be curious about comments.
The new planning for the next Canadian production is set tentatively toward the early spring in 2021. On that note I want to express my utmost gratitude for the people in the Yukon who were willing to support me in 2020 and confirmed very recently that they would keep their generous offers for 2021 - thank you very much for that! The same applies to dear friends in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan where I also was announced for returning in 2020.
Note for all WorkSpace Canada participants - if you want to review some of the respective photographs, please do approach me by email or through Twitter (@WorkSpaceCanada). Unfortunately, I cannot afford anymore sending out complimentary prints but will try my very best to provide pdf presentation sheets with samples of the work we did together.
What happens after a film is exposed?
Since time and again project participants are asking the very reasonable question why it takes so long for me to provide some imagery for review, I wanted to describe with a sample story what happens after I did expose a roll of film for the project's collection.
WorkSpace Canada geht in die Verlängerung
Im vergangenen Jahr fiel die wichtige Entscheidung, das Dokumentarprojekt fortzusetzen und WorkSpace Canada geographisch zu komplettieren. Die 2018er Kanada-Reise war daher speziell der Suche nach Unterstützung für die im Jahr 2020 geplante Produktion (North West Territories u. Yukon) gewidmet. Daneben gab es eine Vortragstournee, die mich mit Projektpräsentationen und Workshops unter anderem an drei kanadische Universitäten (Edmonton, Saskatoon, Toronto), an die School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa und ins Hauptquartier der kanadischen Marine führte.
WorkSpace Canada's journey in 2018
In 2018 I made the decision to extend the time frame for the project's production (originally set for 2006-2016) in order to fully accomplish WorkSpace Canada's documentary mission. That relates to the missing Canadian territories - Yukon, North West Territories - as well as to occupational fields still missing in the collection. In order to tackle these objectives, I took off in September 2018 and went on a combined production and promotion tour. Certainly a highlight was the project's presentation in Edmonton, at the University of Alberta, thanks to Sara Dorow and Harvey Krahn. Just to mention a few other highlights along my travels - I had a great meeting with the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Admiral Lloyd, and his team in Ottawa, and I was discussing prospects for the project's collection with the director of Library and Archives Canada, Guy Berthiaume.
Work Life in Native Communities in Canada
The exhibition Ideas of Land and Gainful Employment is featuring specifically First Nations people in Canada in their work environment. The photographs introduce personalities with their occupations, ranging from traditional craft in Northern Saskatchewan, road construction near Thunder Bay to gold mining in Nunavut. The selected portraits and work series are part of the overall photo documentary WorkSpace Canada. For anyone visiting Berlin, the show is still on display in 2020 at the John-F-Kennedy Institute for North American Studies. Admission is free, please check the library's website for reopening after the Corona shutdown.
Über das Arbeitsleben von First Nations in Kanada
Am John-F.-Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien wurde am 23. Mai 2018 die Ausstellung Ideas of Land and Gainful Employment eröffnet. Aus dem Gesamtprojekt WorkSpace Canada habe ich eine Auswahl an Bildern getroffen, die indigene Arbeitsumfelder in Kanada vorstellen und die Menschen mit diesen Berufen im Portrait zeigen. Der Bogen spannt sich von der Innu First Nation in Labrador, über die Ojibway im nördlichen Ontario, bis zu den Woodland Cree in Saskatchewan. Die Ausstellung ist weiterhin in der Bibliothek des John-F.-Kennedy-Instituts für Nordamerikastudien zu sehen. Wegen Öffnungszeiten nach dem Corona Shutdown bitte vorher auf der Internetseite des Instituts nachsehen.
Das Projekt WorkSpace Canada im Jahr 2018
Nach langer Winterpause gibt es wieder Nachrichten zur Fortführung der WorkSpace Canada Dokumentation. In den vergangenen Monaten habe ich mich mit einigen Mentoren des Projektes beraten und die einhellige Empfehlung war, das Projekt nicht geographisch unvollendet zu lassen. Das heißt, daß WorkSpace Canada nicht mit der Produktion im Jahr 2016 beendet sein wird, sondern noch um die beiden fehlenden Territorien - Yukon und die North West Territories erweitert.
Talking about an important province for the WorkSpace Canada Project
Recently I had the pleasure to talk to Sheila Coles, host of CBC Saskatchewan's The Morning Edition. Subject was the project in general but also aspects relating to Saskatchewan specifically, as one of the most important provinces for the WorkSpace Canada photo documentary. In five different years I took pictures in Saskatchewan for enhancing the collection. To be honest, I would be more than happy to add another couple of more production trips to the province's prairies and the boreal forest, as everytime I feel a new door is opening and I find more people and their workplaces to capture. For those who are curios to read a condensed version of the interview, please go to the CBC Saskatchewan website. There is also a good collection of Saskatchewan pictures accompanying the text.
Opening on September 5th
I would like to thank everybody who came to see the exhibition since the installation was completed. The opening on September 5th was packed, I could tell from the pictures that I was sent by email. It makes me very happy that the exhibition conveys a sense of what I would like to achieve with the WorkSpace Canada Project. I am very grateful for any comment on the current show and already have to thank a number of people for their substantial feedback. I hope the show will have many more visitors and that I can be there in person for the next exhibition to come about WorkSpace Canada.
Face to Face with Canada - A Nation at Work
This is the title of an exhibition about the WorkSpace Canada Project that will be opening soon in Downtown Toronto. Thanks to the kind collaboration with Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts / the Documentary Media Research Centre, it was possible to set up a show which is representing a decade of my documentary production in Canada. All photographs on display are original gelatin silver prints made in my own darkroom facility. Some of them were just recently coming out of the drying press, as there are for instance the first 2016 photographs, depicting people from Nunavut or the Canadian Navy. Due to the spatial conditions it will be a very compact exhibition. Nonetheless the show is taking the viewer on a unique journey throughout the Canadian provinces, offering lots of inside views to a great variety of work lives.
I would particularly like to thank the curator of this exhibition, Don Snyder, who is also my long-time mentor for this project. Without his unbelievable commitment and support the show wouldn’t have been possible.
Face to Face with Canada will be running from Friday, September 1st, 2017 – Sunday, September 24th, 2017.
The opening takes place on Tuesday, September 5th from 6:30-8:30 pm.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the opening. Due to budget restrictions I can’t make it to Toronto. I am very sorry for that but I still have to cope with the expenses of the 2016 production.
The gallery's regular hours of operation are:
Thursday & Friday 1-8pm
Saturday & Sunday 12-7pm