From Project: RETURN TO NITASSINAN: Innu boys lie on a sandbar in Lake Melville, cooling off from the July heat and temproarily escaping the pathos of village life, Sheshatshiu, Nitassinan/Labrador.
Feb 24, 2016
Although this is an older body of work, for me it is arguably the most important project I have ever done, striving to get at the heart of possibly the most important issue to afflict my country, the colonial legacy ofÂ our troubled relationship with its indigenous people. Begun nearly 30 years ago, most or allÂ of the elders have died (as have indeed many of my contemporaries"particularly the leaders, strangely enough"and the infants I photographed now have children of their own. And despite these changes, I gather much has not changed.
And so with this being the 20th anniversary of my last visit, I've recently decided thatÂ if I can raise the tens of thousands of dollars that are required to work in the far north of Canada, I will go.
I say 'arguably my most important' because on one hand there is no denying that itÂ was comprehensive and singular document of a time when a small band of fewer than 2000Â indigenous Innu took on not only multiple levels of government and NATO itself, but then beyond that, confronted many of their own inner cultural demons.
However, that said, I would return, not so much to pick up where I left off (though I haven't entirelyÂ ruled this out), but perhaps more important for those of us who consider ourselves documentarians, using encounters based on my original photographs to interrogate in word, sound, image and motion the validity and effects of what we do. In particular there is an ongoing critique of documentary as an odious contemporary form of precisely the type of colonialism and cultural imperialism that many of us set out to expose. That critique is not at all without merit. Even when I was there originally"and for all the years since on so many other projects"I've frequently been troubled with the inequality of power of representation we hold. When you marry that up withÂ the extraordinary reach and power of Big Media, the way such work often is"or used to be"distributed, invariably filtered through their globalized and corporatized biases and entrenched interests, it is not uncommon for the bestÂ of of a photographer'sÂ intentions not only to fail, but to backfire,Â exacerbating precisely the circumstances one set out to remedy, or worse, to harm people's lives.
As such it will be very reflective, and I assume in moments I will find myself dulyÂ under assault. As such, it promises to be a very challenging project.
But first I need to raise a lot of money to get there.