The Luminous Landscape Grant
victoria piersig - ON, Canada
This project illustrates the growing disconnect between urbanites and the production of commodities that sustain These images explore the sites of old industries along the Great Lakes, which struggle to maintain their presence in the landscape and the ships that connect them.
This body of work illustrates the growing disconnect between urbanites and the production of commodities
that sustain them. Natural resources have driven Canadian settlement and the movement of staples to market has become a part of the Canadian psyche. And yet, for all our acknowledgment of the past and the commodities that built our country, Canadians - even those who live along the major waterways - no longer attach any present-day relevance to shipping on the Great Lakes.
Traveling aboard traditional Canadian-built lake freighters, I capture the twenty-four hour workdays filled
variously with harsh beauty, discomfort, boredom, camaraderie and the ever changing environment. These
images explore the sites of old industries along the Great Lakes, which struggle to maintain their presence in the landscape and the ships that connect them.
The project begun in 2011 examines the travel of three major bulk commodities that touch each of our lives
on a daily basis;
Wheat the bread we eat
Ore the cars we drive
Gypsum the drywall defining the rooms in which we live
Seeking to document the end to end shipping cycle, I will use the time and resources afforded by the grant for travel to capture the loading of iron ore in Port Cartier and the off loading of wheat bound for Europe in Sept-Iles, located on the remote Quebec north shore of the St. Lawrence River. I shall also be traveling to Thunder Bay to shoot in the granaries and the rail yards. Hopefully, I may be able to produce a book dummy as well.
These vessels upon which I travel are slated to be decommissioned within the next few years, and replaced
by China-built ships. As these beautiful ships - well loved by the men and women who sail them and the “boat
nerds” that follow them - disappear from the landscape, so shall a large part of our contemporary shipping
history; making this story of particular relevance as projects ramp up for the 2017 celebrations of Canadian
Heritage for Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.
This project continues my photographic exploration of the issues common to urban dwellers in the first world. Changing values, our disappearing history,and the overwhelming desire to be surrounded by beauty and immediate gratification. The work links together all of these themes as I reacquaint viewers with their nation’s past, and present, while exploring issues of place, sustainability, gentrification, transportation and the commodities that daily touch their lives.