Lisa Klapstock: dreams of a place we have lived
Lisa Klapstock’s artist’s book, “dreams of a place we have lived”, comprises a series of intimate landscape portraits made in a central Ontario forest dear to her. Over the past decade, Klapstock has become acutely sensitized to the nuances of the forest eco-system. The smell and feel of the air; the variable weather; the patterns and shades of water; the birdsong; the creatures large and small; the ever-changing colours and density of plants and trees; the temperature of stone…. She began this work reflecting on the ways the natural world is often depicted - as a decorative backdrop in tourist photographs and advertising, or a digitally enhanced fantasy - and how this prolific representation increases our alienation from Nature at the same time it is disappearing.
Klapstock set out to make portraits in which the details of Nature are the focus of the photographs. The book is a kind of filmic dreamscape depicting various solitary female characters communing with Nature through their postures, and their dress - reflecting the colours, patterns, and tempers of the immediate environment. The characters are Klapstock herself. She is both subject and photographer.
Alone in the forest, Klapstock set out each day with boxes of clothing and wigs, along with her photography equipment. She dressed and undressed at each location, choosing outfits to resonate with the environment. We don’t typically dress up for Nature, but rather to protect ourselves from Nature. In Klapstock’s photographs, dressing up is a performative engagement with Nature.
Since a photograph can only begin to convey the complexities of experiencing a forest, fragments of thoughts appear as texts sporadically throughout the book. They are a kind of voice-over expressing the observations and feelings of the photographer-dreamer; contributing an emotional, and at times visceral, layer to the dreamscape. The scenes move between seasons and meteorological conditions in a non-linear way. The same characters appear in different landscapes over time, sometimes doing inexplicable things. These all contribute to the enchanted quality of the scenes.
As the natural world continues to disappear, Nature has become less something to fear, and more something to feel nostalgia for; to remember in a fragmentary way, similar to how we recall dreams. "dreams of a place we have lived" is a love-letter to a place. It is also an invitation to consider how we perceive, and engage with, the natural world before it is only a distant memory.
Lisa Klapstock is a Canadian lens-based artist living in Toronto. Her working process involves immersing herself in a particular environment over time, using the camera to investigate and describe the place. In Klapstock’s work, photography and video are not neutral media. On one hand, the camera is used to render the real – the everyday – in a surreal or surprising and sometimes even confounding manner. On the other, it is used to express or heighten a hidden socio-political message. Often these two types of images emerge from the same context and present a more comprehensive portrayal of a place and its inhabitation. In the more narrative images, the figure is present in Klapstock’s images, either as an index or a character that serves to concretize the subject of the pictures. Typically, this figure is Klapstock herself, engaging in various kinds of performance.
Lisa Klapstock has a BA (honors) in Communication from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. Klapstock has exhibited widely in North America and Europe including the Musée de la Photographie, Belgium; the Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark; TENT, Rotterdam; the Centre Culturel Canadien, Paris; George Eastman House, New York; Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida; and across Canada at the National Portrait Gallery of Canada; the Art Gallery of Ontario; the Art Gallery of Hamilton; the Windsor Art Gallery; Robert McLaughlin Gallery; Tom Thomson Art Gallery; Owens Art Gallery; the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Southern Alberta Art Gallery; Presentation House Gallery; Kamloops Art Gallery; and Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art. She has also participated in Residencies in Rotterdam; Helsinki; Copenhagen; Banff; and the island of Crete. Between 2004 and 2006, Klapstock’s work toured Canada in a solo show, “liminal”, organized by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and accompanied by a hard cover catalogue.
Dimensions: 285 x 425 mm
Publisher: Something to think about