Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Where is Fort McMurray?: A Review

Today we have a two part post for you, the first is written by Leigh - who was able to attend the opening. The second portion is completed by Connor, who was unfortunatly unable to attend the exhibit.

Image by: Paula Loutitt

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the Where is Fort McMurray? photography exhibit at the Fort McMurray Public Library. The exhibit refers to a series of 21 images taken between May 2009 and October 2010 by young people representing the three high schools of Fort McMurray. Where is Fort McMurray? aims to gain perspective of place and community from the vantage of youth in a local context. The project asks two 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

Image by: Josiane Thibault

After speaking with several of the exhibit organizers I was able to take some time to view the photos produced by the young people participating in the project. I was incredibly impressed with how dynamic the photographs were and particularly intrigued to see how our youth view this community. There were images of industry but there were also images of beautiful landscapes and gritty downtown scenes that were fascinating and interesting. I was a little disappointed with the positioning of the photographs as it was difficult to get close to some of the images because they were placed above couches which made it difficult to get a good look unless you were hovering over someone sitting down.

Overall, I was encouraged to see initiatives like this happening in our community and hope residents take some time to support the creativity and talent of our local youth by visiting the exhibit.




For those of you like me, who were unable to attend the opening of the newest exhibition in the Public Library please stop in and check out the show in the following weeks.

Below is a little refresher on what this exhibition is all about, if you still want more info after reading it please visit the November 2010 blog post which includes the didactic information for the exhibition.

Image by: Jaslynn Houle

Andriko Lozowy is a Sociology graduate student at the University of Alberta. Back in 2009 he proposed a project to local high school students. His project sprung from the work of U of A professor Dr. Sara Dorow – Where is Fort McMurray? fits within the larger research framework in which a diverse group of youth participated. The group of young people who stayed with the project through to fruition represent the three high schools of Fort McMurray.

Image by: Priscilla Gonzales

Both as a group and one on one with Andriko the students came together to consider questions of landscape, geography, community, social connections and photography. The participants became artists with the intention to create a visual dialogue that functions in relation to the prevailing discourse about Fort McMurray. In his presentation at the Conference held last November, Andriko mentioned that the students used images that came up when they typed Fort McMurray into Google images as a foil. In the didactic information for this exhibition it states that “Where is Fort McMurray? stands as an edited collection (chosen by the youth photographers themselves) that they feel best represents their own process and pictorial statements about what they feel is important to convey”.

To view the entire collection please visit the project's flickr site.

If you have any ideas or suggestions on the potential use of these images or where the project team could exhibit them next (online or in person) please post a comment below. I would put it out as a challenge to all residents of Fort McMurray to imagine what their own image would look like if they were to add to this collection.

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