Field
Work

1989

In 1989 I found some black and white photographs that I had taken twenty years earlier, in the late 1960s. These were simple pictures of my friends as we explored life on the land: camping, fishing, canoeing, cooking in the open, etc. I was surprised at the naivety and romantic drive that were invisible to us in our youth but so obvious twenty years after the fact. So I printed them with some of the titles from Edward Curtis’s photogravures from earlier in the century. He too was a romantic and used images of indigenous people to entertain his ahistorical notions. Anyhow, what I had intended as an exposure of a recurring and enduring folly, others saw as a case of cultural appropriation, and I was pulled up on the carpet and treated to a big correction. Which I took seriously, by the way. I was very chastened by the experience and I spent a good part of the 1990s reviewing the situation and considering my options. I tried contextualizing the Field Work portfolio by making a number of photographic works based on historical re-enactors.

Lesley Johnstone, “A Conversation with Liz Magor”, Liz Magor, Montréal, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Zurich, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst; Hamburg, Kunstverein, 2016, p. 20.

10 gelatin silver prints
55.9 × 71.1 cm ou 71.1 × 55.9 cm

Collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Purchased in 1993