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category: Photography
published: Jan 2013
publisher: RMB | Rocky Mountain Books

Prairie Gothic

photographs by George Webber, text by Aritha van Herk

tagged: artists' books, regional, photojournalism

George Webber’s poignant black-and-white photographs transport us into the forgotten, unknowable communities of the Canadian prairies. Throughout the journey, we’re confronted by the mysterious particulars of life, death, landscape and faith. Intimate portraits and the hard facts of the place are woven together to create a body of work that is by turns inspiring, consoling and sometimes achingly sad. Individually, these works startle and challenge. As a collection, they represent a photographer’s decades-long meditation on the ever-changing face of the Canadian West.

About the Authors

George Webber is a renowned documentary photographer whose previous collections with Rocky Mountain Books include Prairie Gothic, Last Call, Badlands, and Alberta Book. He is the recipient of numerous National Magazine Awards (Canada), two Awards of Excellence from the Society for News Design (USA), and an International Documentary Photography Award (Korea). His images have been featured in American Photo, Canadian Geographic, Lenswork Quarterly, Photolife, The New York Times and Swerve magazine. In 1999 he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in recognition of his contributions to the visual arts in Canada. George Webber lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Aritha van Herk teaches Creative Writing, Canadian Literature and Contemporary Narrative at the University of Calgary. van Herk is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and is active in Canada’s literary and cultural life, writing articles and reviews as well as creative work. Her novel, No Fixed Address, was nominated for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. She is well known in the broader community of the city, the province, and the country as a writer and a public intellectual.
Editorial Review

Calgary photographer George Webber’s moody black-and-white photographs seem to violate any sense of the wide-open spaces of clichéd flatland lore. In this coffee-table book that features a 10-page essay by Alberta writer Aritha van Herk, Webber’s skies are overcast, more often than not, and towns are small and vulnerable, their bedraggled buildings tottering on the edges of rutted roads. Webber’s interiors have a similar cramped and mothballed quality, and the people that occupy them are often elderly, with faces as weathered as slumping barns, yet resolute in their steadfast gaze. Collectively, Webber’s images seem a visual dirge to what van Herk calls “a place beyond place – the country he documents something we feel in our bones and cannot help but look at, again and again.Galleries West

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