Carleton Curatorial Laboratory (CCL) / On Location: Human Interventions in the Landscape

May 21 - August 25, 2019

Landscape as a genre and as an understanding of nature as separate from humans is a Western construct.

The images by Lorraine Gilbert, Stephen Livick and John Pfahl featured in On Location reflect their exploration of specific sites and their engagement with the genre of landscape photography. The photographs of Gilbert, Livick and Pfahl, like the larger bodies of work from which they are drawn, also document individual encounters with how processes of resource extraction and the infrastructure of the built environment impact the natural world.

Yet these images are neither straightforward critiques nor calls to action. As Pfahl writes, citing photography historian Estelle Jussim, “it is almost impossible for a single photograph to state both the problem and the solution.”

The development of landscape photography in North America as a mode of reportage and expression coincided with settler-colonial territorial expansion. Early photographs that often portrayed vast, seemingly unoccupied, expanses of land contributed to shaping the belief that such lands were available for occupation and exploitation, in the name of colonial “progress.”

Alert to the historical and ideological dimensions of landscape photography, Gilbert, Livick and Pfahl produced these images during an era of growing environmental awareness. Working “on location” and in direct relationship with specific sites, the resulting photographs embody the artists’ diverse experiences.

Curated by

Amira Ashraf, Tera Bruinsma, Maggie Bryan, Amanda Buessecker, Emilie Hill-Smith, Anna Kim, Jessa Laframboise, Katie Lydiatt, Elizabeth Stewart and Ginny Stovel

Artists in the exhibition

Lorraine Gilbert, Stephen Livick, John Pfahl


Curated by students enrolled in CURA 5001, a seminar in the Graduate Diploma in Curatorial Studies at Carleton University.