Falling in the last week of November each year, Photorama for me marks a changing of the seasons. The vibrant fall foliage is starting to wane and there is perhaps just a hint of frost. It feels fitting, then, to select for this blog post Kristie MacDonald’s Mechanisms For Correcting the Past (Avalanche, Sigerfjord Norway), Annie MacDonell’s Hoarfrost on Black Diamond, and Sarah Sands Phillips’s Untitled No. 44 (Photographs of Canada), each of which take the documentation of nature and natural phenomena as their subject. All three artists are working with found images, for MacDonald an archival photograph and MacDonell and Sands Phillips, books of photography that catalogue the Canadian landscape. The artists draw attention to the aesthetic construction of these images through their manipulation of form and their emphasis on the materiality of the document.
Kristie MacDonald, Mechanisms For Correcting the Past (Avalanche, Sigerfjord Norway), 2014, $750 (framed), $550.
Kristie MacDonald’s Mechanisms For Correcting the Past (Avalanche, Sigerfjord Norway) is part of a larger body of work that appropriates archival documentary images from the aftermath of natural disasters. In this image, a home has been toppled during an avalanche and now rests almost completely on its side. MacDonald “corrects” the damage by reorienting the photograph so the house sits upright. Smears and inky fingerprints tarnish the surface of the archival photograph, and MacDonald’s intentional misalignment of the image in the frame draws attention to its borders.
Annie MacDonell, Hoarfrost on Black Diamond, 2010, $1800 (framed),
Annie MacDonell’s kaleidoscopic Hoarfrost on Black Diamond is constructed with a page from Canadian photographer Roloff Beny’s 1967 book To Everything There is a Season. A close inspection reveals the typed page number 176 right of centre on the bottom and its mirror on the top left, and there is an ever-so-slight rise and fall of the paper where the pages are taped together. The black-and-white collage repeats and rotates the image into a chimerical reimagining of the landscape where snow-covered tree limbs take on a mechanical or insect-like quality.
Sarah Sands Phillips, Untitled No. 44 (Photographs of Canada), 2016, $900 (framed), $700.
For her ongoing series Photographs of Canada, Sarah Sands Phillips carefully selects photographs from the pages of books, then sands them down to leave only their underlying compositional structure. In Untitled No. 44, the landscape has been completely eradicated; the only vestiges that remain are the characteristic browns and greens of the Canadian boreal forest. The physicality and fragility of the document is emphasized by the torn bottom edge and a hint of the image on the other side of the semi-translucent paper.