Still Life Still

Local photog Chris Friesen puts it out there

Chris Friesen

The ability to become invisible is a highly sought after characteristic for local photographer Chris Friesen.

“When someone tells me, 'I didn't even notice you were taking pictures,' that's the best thing you can hear,” Friesen, a graduate of PrairieView School of Photography, says. “There has to be something going on to take the focus away from you and the camera, which is an attention magnet. When that happens, it's wonderful.”

That sense of omnipotence is palpable in Friesen's rich black and white images, all of which he prints himself in his basement darkroom.

“There's been a few people who really encouraged rolling and processing your own film by hand,” Friesen states. “Then even imperfections like dust and hair become a part of your own look and style.”

A selection of Friesen's photographs will be on display at C SPACE gallery (318 Ross) this month. It will be his first solo exhibit after having photos shown at Neechi Commons and having a spread in the Winnipeg Free Press last year.

“One thing I like about having a show such as this is that some of the photos will have only been taken a few months ago, but photography, being a super old process with no time stamp, gives a photo this kind of transcendence.”

Friesen works with this notion of timeless existence to capture relevant topics such as the ever-developing Brady Landfill site and our parking lot-pocked downtown.

“Photography is the one art form where you can directly show someone how you see the world,” Friesen explains. “I can have a photojournalistic approach to viewing the suburbs or surface parking lots downtown, and how I choose to photograph it is inspired by that.”

Apart from shedding light on Winnipeg's desolate spaces and Brady Landfill's “emerging colony on the moon,” Friesen has also worked with Sunshine House, a community-based resource centre that works to increase the health and well being of the marginalized, homeless, poly drug user community in Winnipeg.

“I have loved being in a position where your photos give a voice to people or a community, but I look at photography as being a means to an end, but not the end itself,” Friesen says. “Photography is your way in.”

Friesen calmly explains how amidst the flow of interaction, so much more needs to be going on before composition even enters your mind.

“I think it takes a certain person to show the public what another person or community is experiencing, meaning there is a formula of simple composition but you also need to be the type of person who elicits natural honesty in others so they are represented properly,” Friesen says.

“There's a lot more than just photography taking place.”

Chris Friesen's solo show, MONOMATIC, is on until Aug. 13 at C SPACE gallery, 318 Ross St.

Published in Volume 68, Number 29 of The Uniter (August 5, 2014)

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