Julie Gautier-Downes

Untitled Photograph Paired with Scanned Found Slide
ink jet print – 12 x 16 in.

“Where we are going there were no lit-up houses, only dying ones.” -Eugene Richards

In any given landscape, there are moments that tell a story about the place and the men and women who dwell there. In both cities and ghost towns, there are moments of loneliness and abandonment that can be overlooked or forgotten. It is in these spaces that there is an opportunity to see and understand the world in a different way. Exploring, collecting, and photographing the world as an archaeologist or detective gives intensity to the seemingly banal and ordinary.

The absence of the human figure in my work provides a space for the viewer to project themselves into the desolate and abandoned environments that are captured. By pairing photographs of these deserted and abandoned environments with found personal items, I provide fertile ground for narratives to emerge–narratives that center around gender roles, poverty, material culture, and divorce. The items collected are items one might find in a family album or desk drawer and provides a strong connection to the missing figure.

The types of spaces that are captured range greatly from the haunted skeletal frame of a failed dream house to a forgotten city by a man-made sea with a vibrant past. The ghostly representation of the locations exposes moments of silence, sadness, and abandonment. In some cases these places are desolate due to a tragedy or economic downturn and the images and collected items speak to the way in which it happened.