Friday, 4 February 2011

Exhibition Opening: Where is Fort McMurray?

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
— Marcel Proust
Where is Fort McMurray? will be on display at the Fort McMurray Public Library through the month of February. Organizers invite you to attend the Opening Reception on the second floor of the library on Friday, February 4 at 7:00pm.

Where is Fort McMurray? refers to both the series of 21 images before you as well as the collaborative process of working together to create the images. Between May 2009 and October 2010, young people representing the three high schools of Fort McMurray came together to consider questions of landscape, geography, community, social connections and photography. These questions were motivated by a University of Alberta qualitative research project titled Social Landscapes of Neoliberal Growth: the Case of Fort McMurray, Alberta, led by Sociology professor Dr. Sara Dorow. Social Landscapes... is an ethnographic inquiry into local ideals and practices of community, with its shifting physical, social, and imagined boundaries, in the context of a neoliberally-governed growth economy. Where is Fort McMurray? functions as an element within the larger research framework in which a diverse group of youth volunteered to participate.

As participant collaborators we worked together to discuss visual compositions and narratives, workshop various photographic techniques, share our collected images, theorize the social implications of the photographs, and choose a striking selection of images that work as a set. The set you see before you is considered a snap-shot in time and, as Haraway states above, each image is imbued with a “wonderfully detailed, active and partial way of organizing worlds.” When observing the collection we must also consider the myriad images that were captured but not represented here, as well as the potential in those that were not created. This collection can also be considered as a catalyst for the creation of an online archive of images that work in relation to or as a kind of critical narrative to the images that dominate when one performs an online search of the name Fort McMurray.

Where is Fort McMurray? aims to gain perspective of place and community from the vantage of youth in a local context.

The research project asks two kinds of questions:
a) what are the variety of ways that youth understand and perceive Fort McMurray as a place; and
b) what are the challenges and benefits of using photography as a way for youth to explore and express their experience of place.

These questions function as a cyclical cue-card as you move from image to image, rather than a penultimate statement leading to concretized answers. Instead, the answers are more suggestive: Where is Fort McMurray? asks viewers to internalize and take up the questions themselves and engage in an open and supportive dialogue with creativity through visual representation and conversation with others.

~Youth~ Collaborators and Photographers:
Amani Hachem
Aurooba Ahmed
Jaslynn Houle
Josiane Thibault
Milauni Desai
Nathalia Riordon
Paula Loutitt
Priscilla Gonzales
Sara Morrison
Veronica Laya
Yicuin Chen

Facilitator, Collaborator, Photographer, Curator:
Andriko J. Lozowy

Media Contact:
Andriko J. Lozowy


  1. I've seen the exhibition/installation. Too bad the overall focus is still on industry... there is so much more in Fort McMurray to showcase. Apparently the youth sees it like this. Just sad that this is the perception. But we can change it.

  2. I am impressed by the diversity of subjects and the quality of the photos. Your process is fascinating for its collaboration and inclusiveness. I find this approach exciting. It will be interesting to read how it fits into the overall project someday.