Carleton University Art Gallery CUAG

Carleton Curatorial Laboratory (CCL) / On Location: Human Interventions in the Landscape

Curated by Amira Ashraf, Tera Bruinsma, Maggie Bryan, Amanda Buessecker, Emilie Hill-Smith, Anna Kim, Jessa Laframboise, Katie Lydiatt, Elizabeth Stewart and Ginny Stovel

21 May – 25 August 2019

On Location: Human Interventions in the Landscape features work by Lorraine Gilbert, Stephen Livick and John Pfahl drawn from CUAG’s collection. The images reflect the artists’ exploration of specific sites and engagement with the genre of landscape photography.
The photographs of Gilbert, Livick and Pfahl, like the larger bodies of work from which they are drawn, also document individual encounters with how processes of resource extraction and the infrastructure of the built environment impact the natural world. Yet the images are neither straightforward critiques nor calls to action. As Pfahl writes, citing photography historian Estelle Jussim, “it is almost impossible for a single photograph to state both the problem and the solution.”
Landscape as a genre and as an understanding of nature as separate from humans is a Western construct. The development of landscape photography in North America as a mode of reportage and expression coincided with settler-colonial territorial expansion. Early photographs that often portrayed vast, seemingly unoccupied, expanses of land contributed to shaping the belief that such lands were available for occupation and exploitation, in the name of colonial “progress.”

Alert to the historical and ideological dimensions of landscape photography, Gilbert, Livick and Pfahl produced these images during an era of growing environmental awareness. Working “on location” and in direct relationship to specific sites, the resulting photographs embody the artists’ diverse experiences.

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