“Here is no continuing city, here is no abiding stay.”
--T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
Halifax, Nova Scotia is a city of transients. Sailors, summer tourists, students, musicians, cruise ship passengers all pass through on their way to somewhere else. Pier 21 was the Canadian Ellis Island: the gateway for a million immigrants seeking to be elsewhere. Half of the city blew up in an 1907 explosion that killed two thousand while injuring nine thousand more. It was the largest man made explosion until the atomic bomb.
As people pass through a city, they leave bits of themselves behind in the food, customs, language, buildings, music. Their detritus forms the character of the place. A visual archeology of words and images that mirror their rapidly changing lives.
Part of Halifax’s unique character is the steady stream of paper announcements for upcoming events that are stapled to wooden telephone poles and kiosks or taped to metal electrical poles. These posters have a very short life span. They are quickly replaced by others or are ripped down in a futile attempt to make this unauthorized mess disappear.
The resultant palimpsest bits of paper, staples, and tape, a collage of chance, is the raw material of this portfolio. The images included in this on-going series were captured between 2006 and 2013 with a Leica rangefinder camera in available light.
The aim of the images is to catch or pry or reframe this chaos of words, textures, and color into new static portraits of a continually changing environment while retaining some resonance of the original context. Or as stated by David Travis in his “Ephemeral Truths, 1919-1945” essay in On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: “The trick was to encounter, through an accident of time, not what was suspected but what was unforeseen.”