@ REDUX STOCK
based in Toronto
Peter Sibbald portfolio on Visura - a professional network to connect with photo editors and art buyers, and build photography portfolio websites. Visura members, like Peter, share photojournalism, art photography, landscape, travel photography, portraits and more. Peter has 7 projects, 5 community news posts, and 0 images shared in the photo stream.
With all the politicians and celebrities I shot in the heyday of magazine, perhaps the only time I ever recall being awed in the presence of a subject was the moment when Gordie Howe walked onto my set for a quick portrait with his favourite cup—Lord Stanley's—at the Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto, for Sports Illustrated. With hands like grappling hooks attached to forearms like tree trunks, I felt like I was in the presence of a mythical Knight, the Jungian archetypal warrior. And he was beaming. When I looked past him the little boy he'd brushed past moments later was still gaping. It was a truly lovely moment.
I never would have imagined that I might find myself agreeing with anything Donald Trump had to say—and particularly so in this week when he has been so justifiably under attack—but here it is: "We need Fair Trade, not Free Trade!", Trump proclaims, and given what I've lived and documented this past quarter century, I'd have to admit—reluctantly—that on at least this one point The Donald's pronouncement is pretty unassailable…
And this has put me in mind of a body of work I did way back in 1993.
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 of our troubled relationship with its indigenous people. Begun nearly 30 years ago, most or all 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 that 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 it was comprehensive and singular document of a time when a small band of fewer than 2000 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 entirely 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 with 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 best of of a photographer's intentions not only to fail, but to backfire, 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 duly 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.
For the past few years I've taken a detour of sorts from my photography career as I explored the world of documentary filmmaking. As I return to focussing primarily on photography once again, I've just relaunched my my web site: http://petersibbald.com which begins with some links to my latest work on Redux Pictures, but also includes one of my favouite old short-but-sweet essays: Japan Diary, photographs about Karoshi—death from overwork—that I felt utterly compelled to shoot while travelling around Tokyo between assignments for FORTUNE Magazine.
Over the coming days however I will be adding more projects as I fine-tune them in this great new interface on Visura. Please stay tuned.
Meanwhile Big Thanks to Graham Letorney for supporting me through the minor bumps and scrapes of getting this old dog sorted out and to partner Adriana Teresa Letorney for developing Visura and co-founding this community. I'm looking forward to being a part of it.