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Prairie Gothic: Photographs by George Webber

Prairie Gothic: Photographs by George Webber

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Prairie Gothic: Photographs by George Webber

Lunghezza:
145 pagine
45 minuti
Pubblicato:
Jan 1, 2013
ISBN:
9781927330296
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

George Webber’s poignant black-and-white photographs transport us into the forgotten, unknowable communities of the Canadian prairies. Throughout the journey, we’re confronted by the mysterious particulars of life, death, landscape and faith. Intimate portraits and the hard facts of the place are woven together to create a body of work that is by turns inspiring, consoling and sometimes achingly sad. Individually, these works startle and challenge. As a collection, they represent a photographer’s decades-long meditation on the ever-changing face of the Canadian West.

Pubblicato:
Jan 1, 2013
ISBN:
9781927330296
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

George Webber’s previous books include In this Place, Last Call (RMB, 2010), A World Within: An Intimate Portrait of the Little Bow Hutterite Colony and People of the Blood: A Decade-long Photographic Journey on a Canadian Reserve. He is the recipient of numerous National Magazine Awards (Canada), two Awards of Excellence from the Society of News Design (USA), and the International Documentary Photography Award (Korea). His photographs have been featured in American Photo, Canadian Geographic, Lenswork Quarterly, Photolife, The New York Times and Swerve. In 1999 he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in recognition of his contributions to the visual arts in Canada. George lives in Calgary, Alberta.

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Anteprima del libro

Prairie Gothic - George Webber

PRAIRIE GOTHIC

PHOTOGRAPHS BY GEORGE WEBBER

TEXT BY ARITHA VAN HERK

This book is dedicated to my grandparents:

Frank and Margaret Webber, and Joseph and Emma Cramer.

In the early part of the last century they left their homes in Nova Scotia, Britain and the Netherlands for a new start in southern Alberta.

They found something beautiful here and their lives added to the sum of that beauty.

PRAIRIE GOTHIC

Aritha van Herk

To the memory of my family’s Edberg farm

and the hauntings of a Battle River childhood.

In my memory the scalding afternoon stretches beyond endurance. Grasshoppers buzz under the bowl of a transparent sky. The dog turns on his side and sighs from a place deep under his rib cage. He twitches and almost decides to run in his sleep, chasing a gopher or a scent, but then lets his ears flop and exhales that specific groan of a pyretic dog.

I sit on the stoop. The stoop leads to the scarred door that leads to the porch snugged against the front of the house, a lean-to really, added to provide a protective breach between outside and in. The porch serves as a mud room but we do not call it a mud room because that is not a word we know or use. We call it the porch. On very cold winter nights the dog is allowed to sleep in the porch. We leave chore boots and coats in the porch, my mother runs the cream separator in the porch, and the porch separates the prairie wind from the interior of our house.

I perch on the top step of the stoop in a pair of old shorts and sneakers, my legs pulled up to my chest and my hands dangling, while I try to imagine a world beyond the searing August heat. Impossible. The world has stopped turning here and this afternoon cannot escape the scrutiny of the height of summer in the hardest and hottest of places. Our gravel lane curves just slightly to the south, but no one turns in. No one even drives past on the township road, it is that kind of afternoon, abandoned by every destination. The stillness is not eerie but spectral, looming above the day as if all the air has been sucked out of its perimeter. I pick at a scab on my knee, an old mosquito bite. Even the mosquitos sleep, the sun hovers, the barbed wire fence stretches languidly around the pasture where the cows have searched out a patch of shade, and lie ruminant and contemplative.

Nothing has ever happened here. Nothing will happen this afternoon. Nothing will happen tomorrow. Nothing but nothing and nothing, but everything and everything.

In a moment or an hour, my mother will tell me to go and pick some peas. Or to water the new trees planted to augment the shelter belt. But that is a forever stone’s throw away, and tomorrow is beyond my imagining. I am pinned, immovable as a stare, and waiting. Waiting for an inexpressible idea, an event or a revelation, a turn that will demonstrate that this prairie farmyard is part of the world and not unmoored, isolate and irredeemable and consigned to oblivion.

I know that beyond the driveway and the road and the endless horizon that coasts there, out of reach, some colourful realm surely unfolds. It is filled with music instead of silence. Its sensations are intense, psychedelic, swirls of orange and green instead of this mute grey, this dreary greyish-green, burned empty under a sun too fervent to allow unbleached pigmentation. I am caught in the hiatus of the confounded, prisoner of a gelid afternoon paralyzed with its own curious severance. I am on flat prairie, open and far-seeing, but I know its chasms and coulees, its chimerical foreboding. Here is a place that is beyond place, for all the efforts that people have made to try to shape it into place. Here is a world indifferent as pain, one that does not bother to turn its head to watch a passerby or even an animal’s unhurried division of

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