Andrew Wright isn’t interested in pretty pictures or cliché subjects. When you see them in his photographs, there’s usually something else at play, somewhere under the surface.
That’s evident in Wright’s APEX: Interloper, the inaugural solo art exhibit at Corridor 45|75 in the Rideau LRT station.
I don’t make pretty pictures.– Andrew Wright
“There’s a way that I engage in photography that has to do more with the context, the circumstances … the political and esthetic underpinnings of what’s happening in a given place or with a given idea,” said Wright, an associate professor of visual art at the University of Ottawa. “I don’t make pretty pictures.”
It’s not that he’s against beauty — it’s just that he knows it’s never skin-deep, and wants to find out what’s under the surface.
“I guess I’m more interested in why it’s beautiful, how is it beautiful, or is it beautiful? Or what’s really going on here? It’s kind of like photography at the edges.”
The 20-metre-long, 11-panel display is a panoramic shot of Apex, Nunavut, a settlement within Iqaluit that grew out of a former U.S. Air Force base.
Wright wants you to pay attention to the details and ask what else is at play in the scene, where sled dogs, oil barrels, radio towers an human habitations share space with ice, snow and sky.
The title is a bit of a play on the idea of the “apex predator,” Wright said — something or someone at the top of the food chain. But the focus, according to Wright, is squarely on the beholder.
Wright has enjoyed watching people’s reaction to the work, and said a few have stopped to tell him it’s like peering through a window into their own home. (Ottawa is home to the largest Inuit population outside Nunavut.)
Wright, the 2019 Karsh Award laureate, has also been getting ready to launch Filmtrack 4 A Sound: Suite Kurelek de Fiala (2010-2020) on Jan. 23 at the Karsh-Masson Gallery at city hall.
Wright’s work is also included in the collections of the Ottawa Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada and Canada’s High Commission in London, Canada House.