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BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE PHOTOGRAPH

PHOTO OF BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE, 1997
MADE BY & ON LOAN FROM ZOLTAN VARADI | CALGARY, ALBERTA

“This was taken in the building that housed FFWD on 17th Avenue SW. I had her look out the window because that was the best source of light available. I ended up submitting another shot in which she met the camera with a smile, but in hindsight this far-off-gaze would have been more apropos: Sainte-Marie is always looking ahead. At the time of this shoot, she wasn’t promoting new music; instead she came to talk about her new educational initiative, the Cradleboard Project, which embraced the then relatively new online world as means for educating First Nations’ youth about their culture and identity. Being at the forefront of technology was par for the course for Sainte-Marie. In 1969, she was among the first figures in popular music to explore synthesizers and electronically-processed vocals, as heard on her groundbreaking Illuminations LP. Still pushing ahead in more recent years, she took home the Polaris Prize in 2015 for Power in the Blood.”

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“Between 1993 and 2001 is a period in which I took photographs for a succession of free, arts & entertainment-focused publications in Calgary. These included the monthly Vox Magazine, published by CJSW, the University of Calgary’s community radio station, and FFWD Weekly, the city’s first, and last, ‘alt-weekly.’ Though I held a retrospective exhibition featuring a modest selection of photographs from this period in 2014, the bulk of material in my personal archive -- a battered moving box haphazardly stuffed with negatives and slides -- had remained largely untouched for decades. Because of the time-consuming nature of chemically processing prints by hand in a darkroom, I often only printed two or three shots from any given roll of film. Which means I had actually never seen some of the images on these rolls of film beyond the small thumbnail on a contact sheet. In March of 2020, owing largely to the sudden abundance of time at home afforded by the first Covid-19 lockdown, I finally got around to taking a closer look at the contents of that dusty, neglected box. There was a fair amount of junk to be sure, and some material was damaged, but also several nice surprises.”