Blair Swann:
The well is deep,
you can never fill it

May 1 - September 1 2021

Presented as part of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

Toronto-based artist Blair Swann interrogates visual archives in an attempt to reread and disrupt colonial narratives inherent in image circulation. Found photographs are the basis of his work which draws from sources including advertising, photojournalism, movies, television, magazines, newspapers, Youtube, Reddit, and stock photography. Often employing the same images in multiple works, Swann embraces a methodology of reuse that pushes against the speed at which visual media – echoing humanity’s use of natural resources –  is consumed.

The well is deep, you can never fill it is displayed in a public lightbox at street level, evocative of  the visual language of advertising. In the work, palm trees hang over the streets, bathed in a pink sunset. The clichéd image, devoid of a tagline or product description, is instead ripped towards the bottom, revealed as a piece of paper on a scanner bed. Where the photograph’s content evokes a narrative, the artist’s intervention foregrounds its physicality, drawing attention to the fabrication of such narratives. Suggestive of the illusory nature both of Hollywood’s visual industry and its constructed landscape, the work speaks to the tension between the everyday and the hyperreal that defines today’s image culture.

Photo documentation by Alison Postma

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