Urbania’s legend

Nearly twenty years after their theft, Christopher Porter’s photos were found in an abandoned barn. Some of what he’s salvaged are now on display in Lunenburg.


Christopher Porter, Urbania Part 1
October 5-15 (opening reception Oct 5, 7pm)
Lunenburg School of the Arts, 6 Prince Street, Lunenburg

The current exhibition at the Lunenburg School of the Arts showcases the long-lost work of photographer Christopher Porter: 20 years ago tens of thousands of Porter's photographs, negatives and other belongings were stolen from his home, only to be discovered in a derelict barn two years ago.

   "An abandoned building was being put up for sale and when people went in to work on it they found some photographs they believed might be mine," says Porter. "I drove to the site and there they were: Heaps of mildewed and emulsion damaged negatives. But underneath we were able to salvage thousands."

The photographs in Urbania Part 1 were taken during Porter's career as an international lighting director, where he worked with filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch and Wim Wenders. While filming on location, Porter would make time to photograph the different cities he found himself in. Black and white shots of New York, Istanbul, Havana, Fez and others make up the exhibition, with Porter's keen eye teasing out scenes exploring the various quotidiens of urban life. "There is a veil of sorrow, of gritty timelessness, of melancholy and poetry that imbues them" writes fellow photographer Raoul Manuel Schnell in the catalogue essay. From class divisions to the residues of war, Urbania Part 1 explores the complexities of urban living and the dirty work that keeps a city running.

The artist painstakingly worked through dozens of boxes' worth of images to save what he could, digitizing and producing prints along the way. "It has been an emotional journey, one that I am now thankful for," Porter says, adding he's "still amazed at what I am still uncovering. Also, it has been interesting to balance these old works with my latest ones and find threads of continuum."

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