Crown Ditch & The Prairie Castle
"Armour made the knight…the crown the king. What are we?”
Soil made the farmer, the herd the rancher, and so what are we, or rather, who are we? Essential to identifying the contemporary photographic culture of Western Canada involves forgetting the American West. Overshadowed and often visually conflated with its neighbour to the south, we forget to turn our gaze to the Canadian West. The multiple wests (new vs. old, Canadian vs. American, real vs. imagined, etc.) must be disentangled and a clear vision of the contemporary Canadian West forged, much in the same way Robert Adams provided us with a geo-visual rendition of the ‘New America West’ in the 1970s.
Gone are the early remnants of the Canadian West but its modern form endures. Crown Ditch and the Prairie Castle is a long-term project that documents the spaces and people of the last great ‘proving out’. The project advocates for viewing this space as a beast upon itself, with a particular type of landscape, industry, and most importantly, people, who are a resilient breed created by generational lessons in fortitude and fortuned circumstance. The project embraces a mobilities approach to creating ‘site specific/unspecific’ work. In additional, the project draws from my previous visual research in the region (as a curator and creator) and speaks to the resurgence of the visual turn in visual sociology.