Emerging artist Graham Ereaux on photography as social commentary

Let me introduce you to Graham Ereaux.  I talked to the young artist, who is recognized as an ’emerging name’ amongst Canadian photographers for 2013 – at XChanges Gallery in Victoria on Vancouver Island, where his current show “Walls of Utopia” will be shown until Oct 27. Graham’s photographs depict the remnants of the consumerist landscape when the act of consuming and the presence of people is removed. At night and without the consumer, malls become empty neon shells, parking lots become endless voids of concrete, and streets that once led consumption from one place to the next end up as a tangle of dry asphalt veins.

Copyright Graham Ereaux

Copyright Graham Ereaux

Graham Ereaux – you have been recognized by the Magenta Foundation, one of Canada’s leading photographic publicists, as an emerging name in 2013. What does photography mean to you?

Photography for me serves two functions – to encourage my own self discovery in a variety of subjects, and secondly, to share my ideas and opinions with others. I like to develop work that critiques and/or investigates social, cultural, economic and political issue. By making such work, I am encouraged to gain a stronger understanding of each subject  I chose to photograph, and in turn, share it with others. I think it is important to think critically of the world around us, and at the end of the day, photography is an excellent tool for doing just that.

Today, you said: “It’s nice to portray beauty, but for me the main role of photography is social commentary.” Why?

I do indeed enjoy taking pictures that are beautiful, but I feel photography has the potential to go beyond being a purely aesthetic experience. I think photography becomes a lot less boring to make (and potentially to view) when it has some form of social commentary.

Photographer Graham Ereaux

Photographer Graham Ereaux

Who inspired you?

I’ve been really inspired by a couple of my professors while studying at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. They have taught me the importance of staying focused only on what you feel strongly about. You have to be passionate with what you make.

Your current exhibition aims to encourage people to think critically about consumerism and its emotional, social, and geographical potential. Where did you get the idea for the series?

The series kind of came about by accident. To get out of the studio, I would go for drives around town at night just to clear my head. Soon enough, at night, I started taking photographs of all the gas stations around the town I was living at the time. I think it was these first few shots of gas stations that really made me question consumer spaces and how they transform at night when they are taken out of their working context. From there, the work just took off. Before I knew it, I was photographing every consumer space at night I could find.

In this digital age, do you think that there is a future for film-based photography?

Most definitely…that is as long as other people think so too. Film can only exist with a community to support it. Film is so important for so many reasons. Operationally, it forces you to slow down and really consider each image you are taking. Aesthetically, film has an incredible ability to capture colours accurately. Furthermore, using large and medium format equipment enables me to make extremely large prints if necessary without loosing image quality.

Upcoming projects?

I’m currently spending quite a bit of time photographing seniors at a local nursing home. Seniors are an extremely important part of society, but I think there is a lot issues, stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding the older population here in Canada. I’d really like to address some of these issues.  I’ve also spent some time down on the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City where I’m photographing the major polarization between rich and poor in that area. I am planning another trip that way in the coming months.

Could you share 2 of your favourite images?

Ya, for sure – the first image is from my current series up at Xchanges Gallery, and the second image is of a friend of mine at the seniors home in Sackville, New Brunswick. The photograph he is holding is himself when he was about my age. He’s 93 now I believe.

Graham, thank you for sharing your thoughts and photographs with my readers.

'Young at heart' by Graham Ereaux Copyright 2013

‘Young at heart’ by Graham Ereaux
Copyright 2013

About:
Graham Ereaux is a photographer located between Sackville, New Brunswick, and Salt Spring Island, BC. He uses large and medium format photography to explore socio-physical landscapes ranging from North America consumerist utopias to local seniors among his community. He is recognized by the Magenta Foundation, one of Canada’s leading photographic publicists, as an emerging name in 2013. Graham Ereaux gratefully acknowledges the financial support of ArtsNB.
For more information visit the artist’s website: Graham Ereaux

The Exhibition ‘Walls of Utopia’ runs through Sunday, October 27th, 2013 at XChanges Gallery, Victoria.
Gallery Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 12 to 4 pm

‘Living with Land Mines’ by V. Tony Hauser

V. Tony Hauser exhibition

Living with Land Mines

My friend V. Tony Hauser just returned from the UK where his ‘Living with Land Mines exhibition’ was presented at Marlborough College. Since its inauguration in 2007, Living with Land Mines has travelled to universities and baccalaureate school on three continents.

“Due to the tremendous efforts of my friends Jackie Donnelly and David Russell, along with their inspiring young children, Charlotte, Alex, Benjamin and Dominic, the events organized over the past two weeks at Marlborough and Eton College, as well as Westbury House School in Sussex, have raised not only awareness about land mine issues, but also over $15,000”, says photographer V. Tony Hauser. “These funds will go directly to support the education of land-mine injured children, as well as de-mining projects in Cambodia through The Cambodian Landmine Museum Relief Facility.”

“This facility, which houses, educated and rehabilitated land mine injured children is where I made the portraits for the exhibition”, explains V. Tony Hauser. “It is my attempt to draw attention to the atrocious consequences of land mines”.

Hauser will continue to tour this exhibition: “I believe it is an indisputable reminder that 15 years after peace has returned to Cambodia, there are still an estimated five million mines polluting vast parts of this country – a fact that jeopardizes the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable population on a daily basis.”

We invite you to click on the following links to learn more about land mine survivors and the incredible story of Aki Ra; former Khmer Rouge child solider, now top de-mining expert and founder of CLMMRF.

For more information on the project, please link to Tony’s website as well as the website of the Cambodia Landmine Museum.

Sculpture Garden Kroeller-Mueller Museum – an Art Museum in tranquillity

Where do visual art, nature, architecture and garden design come together in perfect harmony?

Ever since the sculpture garden of the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in Otterlo, The Netherlands, opened in 1961, it has become one of the most renowned in the world. Situated on carefully chosen spots on 25 hectares of woodland, sculptures ranging from work by Rodin to that of contemporary sculptors can be enjoyed by visitors.

The KMM manages the legacy of Anton and Helene Kroeller-Mueller. The first quarter of the 20th century, the couple assembled a formidable collection of modern and contemporary art. Between 1909 and 1921 they purchased a continuous stretch of hunting and riding land of over 6,000 hectares in the Veluwe region. Today, the De Hoge Veluwe Nationalpark is the core of the estate.

When the museum opened in 1938, the high quality of three components was decisive for its success: visual arts, architecture and nature. The three still define, more than ever, the museum’s unique character. For many, the KMM epitomizes an art museum in tranquillity – the “tranquillity of nature, calm and space”.

“I’m still fascinated”, says Evert Van Straaten, Director of the KMM, “by the motto of Mrs Kroeller-Mueller, the founder of this museum: spiritus et materia unum, spirit and matter are one, which she found reading Spinoza. This contrast between the meaning and the material is still something that is of great importance both in the collection – my predecessor Rudi Oxenaar focused on 1960s art , minimalism and Arte Povera is very well represented here – and the sculpture park.”

The opening in 1961 of the sculpture garden, designed by J.T.P. Bijhouwer, heralded a new phase. The museum’s ‘outdoor architecture’ made it possible to give autonomous sculptures their own space and, in collaboration with artists, to have works made for locations outdoors.

Sculpture exhibitions in parks and gardens became an enormously popular phenomenon after the Second World War. The first ‘Open-Air Exhibition of Sculpture at Battersea Park’ was held in London in 1948. Its attendance figures were impressive and it included sculptures by artists from the UK, France and Yugoslavia. The idea was taken by an exhibition of “European Sculptures in the Open Air’ in 1949 in Sonsbeek Park in Arnheim.

“The garden is a kind of intellectual landscape”, says Evert van Straaten. ‘ Like a brain laid out where you walk around and encounter all kinds of cultural sceneries and elements that affect corresponding areas in your brain.”

But the KMM offers even more: When I saw its remarkable collection of late-19th-century and early-20th-century paintings of the KMM – including 91 paintings and 175 works on paper by Van Gogh (about 50 of which rotate on display at any given time), I was fascinated. The KMM – a true gem.

More information:

– NAI Publishers Rotterdam: “Sculpture Garden Kroeller-Mueller Museum”

– Website of the KMM Museum

Chris Booth, 'De Echo van de Veluwe', 2003-05

Chris Booth, ‘De Echo van de Veluwe’, 2003-05

Alejandro Guijarro – bridging the worlds of science and arts

For those who have not yet seen the latest exhibition of Quai1 in Vevey, do not miss out on this one: “Momentum” is being shown until 19th October.

The series “Momentum” is the result of a project conducted over three years, during which Spanish photographer Alejandro Guijarro visited the world’s leading institutions in the field of quantum mechanics: Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, Berkeley and Stanford in the U.S. or the CERN in Switzerland.

Using large format photography, he captures the offices and classrooms blackboards and presents them live size. Once taken out of their context, these boards become abstract paintings: formulas and equations mutate into forms, lines and colors. Traces of sponges which have sometimes erased some of the content become imaginary landscapes for the viewer’s eye. These colorful designs remind the use of writing in the works of painters such as Basquiat and Cy Twombly.

Far from wanting to present an objective reality, Momentum is an attempt to bridge the worlds of science and arts. This series focuses on the gap between intentions and outcomes related to meanings and contexts. Removing these boards from their original environment, Alejandro Guijarro blurs the line between reality and its indexical representation. In doing so, it questions the status of the photographic image and allows us to access the pictorial and aesthetic dimensions of these objects.

For more information, please visit Quai1.


About Alejandro Guijarro:

Spanish photographer Alejandro Guijarro lives and works in London. After studying at the Royal College of Art, he participated in numerous international exhibitions in New York, London, Madrid and Milan. His work is in private collections such as the Frank-Suss Collection and the Saatchi Gallery. His work explores the possibilities of photography and questioned its ability to relate to reality and to represent the truth.

Quai1 dedicates itself to contemporary photography by presenting five exhibitions per year of photographers who participated to the Vevey International Photography Award.

« MOMENTUM » by Alejandro Guijarro

Exhibition from September 4th to October 19th 2013
Wednesday to Friday from 4pm to 7pm
Saturday from 11am to 3pm
And upon request
http://www.quai1.ch