Friday, July 24, 2009

Out today: Q&A with Scott Conarroe

According to news reports, VIA rail is about to strike today, putting thousands of train passengers across the country in limbo (including yours truly). The lineups won't be a pretty picture.

Still, photographer Scott Conarroe's images of railways are decidedly more enjoyable. Today the National Post published my Q&A with Conarroe on his just-opened Toronto show at Stephen Bulger Gallery, the product of many months of criss-crossing North America. Here's an excerpt:

Q You're on the younger side, while railways are a pretty old form of transport. Why did you do a project on them?

A Railways aren't old, they're classic. [Laughs.] I started this project because a lot of my pictures had train tracks in them anyway. So I figured it must be something that I'm interested in exploring.

Then I took a cross-country trip and saw some trestles that had been wrecked in forest fires very close to where the forest fires are right now in Kelowna, B. C. I saw handcart enthusiasts who came from all over the States to Saskatchewan because it has miles of unused railway. They'd put their handcarts on the track and pump along to the next stop while their friends would follow in the RV. I saw the new High Line park in New York City, this starchitect-redesigned railway turned into a park. So it looked like there was all this fascinating stuff going on on top of old railways, and that it could be due for an inventory.

In his writing for the show, Conarroe mentions his dad telling stories of taking tires off his car and riding the rails to barn dances, and his grandad making him a bracelet out of squished copper pennies. That personal connection is discussed a bit further along in the article.

Image of Scott Conarroe's Trailer Park, Wendover, UT 2008 from his website

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