Abstraction Faite

Abstraction Faite

In December 2017, I began a close photographic study of a singular structure known as the Eastern Ave. Bridge in Toronto. The truss bridge, spanning the Lower Don River, is a now an unused, rusty structure that was de-commissioned in 1964 when the Don Valley Parkway was built and the Eastern Ave. rerouted. In use from 1933 to 1964, the bridge connected the East side to the downtown core. The concrete structure standing parallel to the Eastern Ave. Bridge is a bridge that belongs to Enbridge Gas transporting a gas pipeline over the river. The Eastern Ave. bridge’s structure remains in place to this day, an unusal attraction in the Lower Don River Valley landscape.

Working on the “Borderlands” project for several years, I always marveled at how the Eastern Ave. Bridge kept reinventing itself with the help of graffiti artists. In December 2017, the bridge reached such a unique, colourful state that I thought I should capture it. That said, I didn’t want to make landscape images of it – which I had accumulated over the years of course –, but I wanted to photograph the graffiti in a way that I had never seen done before. That’s when the idea of using macro photography hit me.

Closely photographing the graffiti, running paint, and the vertical spaces between the bridge structure created colourful, abstract compositions that uncannily recall painterly abstraction but with a twist: the macro shots make of the bridge an abstraction that preserves an indexical link to reality. Painterly abstraction meets photographic documentation in this series celebrating the legacy of abstract painting and the revival of abstract photography. Images of the bridge itself and objects left behind by graffiti artists complement the abstractions.

In sum, there are two central concerns at the heart of this series. The first is to merge two photo genres that rarely figure in tandem: urban landscape and macro photography. The second is to revive abstract photography in a way that makes it dialogue with the documentary potential of the image to archive constantly evolving urban landscapes.

Shot December 2017-February 2018

Eastern Ave. Bridge (aka King St. Bridge), circa 1935

Eastern Ave. Bridge (aka King St. Bridge), circa 1935

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