The Centre for All Canadians
From the series Open Terrain, illuminated side of Heimaklettur, 2013, digital c-type print, 76.2 x 60.9 cm

Karen Stentaford: Island Types

From the series Open Terrain, illuminated side of Heimaklettur, 2013, digital c-type print, 76.2 x 60.9 cm
New Brunswick-based photographer uses historical photographic techniques to capture the landscapes and communities of Newfoundland, Iceland and Prince Edward Island.
From Photomatic: Travelling Tintype Studio, Sandra, 2015, tintypes, 8.6 x 11.1 cm

Island Types presents a group of curious documents, records of the recent travels and personal history of Newfoundland-raised, New Brunswick-based photographer Karen Stentaford. These images capture the traces of time upon faces and places, the communities and landscape of the islands of Iceland, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. Time has always been an implicit subject of photography; time past, fixed, made visible as light, that most ephemeral substance that bridges between material and immaterial, making all appearances temporary and contingent. In Stentaford’s photographs, the truth of her subjects-people, built structures, and the landscape-is grounded in the vagaries of time, visibly registered through material processes of chemistry, biology and geology.

Whether employing digital or archaic techniques of photography, anachronism, the visible coexistence of multiple times, is the photographer’s primary method of foregrounding temporality. Many of her photographs look and feel like historical objects, pictures from the early days of photography. The outmoded technologies employed in many images by Stentaford immediately evoke the past. Such processes also make visible the temporality of photography itself. The subject matter of the works further articulates a dialogue between time and material; in the tintypes, faces with the cold eyes of statues bear the marks of life on the surface of their skin. In the series trace, the slow passage of geological time is mirrored by the deliberate and contingent method of processing prints in salt water. Where the photographer makes use of digital printing technology, in the series Open Terrain, she depicts built, ultimately temporary structures, against the primeval, but geologically malleable landscape of Iceland. In the tintype series Here, Stentaford makes most explicit the juxtaposition of different times at the heart of any attempt to capture materially the experience of a place or a moment. Pairing images of herself in the landscape with pictures that, in this context, articulate her absence from it, the photographer materializes her connection to a place, but also foregrounds the transient nature of the encounter.

-Pan Wendt, Curator

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