” The first image of this project is of The Response by Vernon March and it was taken though the back window of a taxi in 2001. That banal snap satisfied something for me even though I could not explain what it was. I photograph a lot, sometimes so much that the images I make do not surprise me. When I make a picture that I don’t understand, even after I have questioned it closely, it is a good sign that more work is needed. For me, images like that often begin a project and then drive it forward.

After making that first picture, I continued photographing other people’s (public) art and monuments for about four years until about 2004-5 when I slowed down to work on other projects. Ten years later I began to see new things in the photographs and working on the project became an obsession again. I now have about three hundred and fifty photographs of different public artworks and monuments in the national capital region. There are about two hundred and fifty I would not like to lose.

This book is an eccentric document made to please myself rather than to satisfy the wishes of paying clients. I chose the subjects that interested me, or that taught me something new. Sometimes my images flatter the art and sometimes not. It is not a democratic selection at all. Nonetheless there are enough pictures here to show a wide spectrum of practice including temporary public works, graffiti, monuments, and work created for the exotic territory of the contemporary fine arts milieu. Some questions that I constantly think about are…

What is it for? Who paid for it? Will it last? Should it last? Why does it look like that? What histories inform the artwork?… andabove all… What is the politics of this work? I used about a dozen different cameras to produce the 80 photographs included in this exhibition and the accompanying artist book “.


— Justin Wonnacott 




Justin Wonnacott was born in 1950 and moved to Ottawa in 1974. He is a photographer and a teacher who also writes about the subject. He is known for long-term photographic projects in a variety of genres including the still life, landscape, street photography and images of public art. These portfolios are accompanied by publications. He has a long exhibition history in Canada and many national, provincial and municipal institutions collect his work. In 2005, he received the Karsh Award and in 2009 he was inducted as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy.





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