On Friday September 21, Tony Fouhse’s book launch party will be hosted by Studio Sixty Six, followed by an exhibition of his photographs at the gallery until September 28. After the Fact is Mr. Fouhse’s latest photographic venture which sees him tackle a new theme featuring photographs of our city, but these works are a far cry from your run of the mill Ottawa photos. They are hauntingly cold aimed to inject fear and apprehension into the bones of your bodies. You are left wondering what had happened prior to these beautifully chilling events being brought to you in still images.
You are not far away from death at every corner, and the murder of crows being exhibited regularly at different intervals heightens your trepidation even more. The menacing apartment buildings that are reminiscent of eastern bloc soviet styled concrete sardine structures amidst snow are striking enough to make your blood run cold. The yellow brick road under water signals something having gone awry, and when you start to look hard enough you see foreboding and unease everywhere you look.
Young men are threatening in these pictures, representing disenfranchisement and alienation, while smoke rages on and glowing Money signs lit the night. Barricades are up, and fences divide, while blurry young men approach you like a gang of hooligans. And women, ill-omened, hopeless and worried look away from the camera, trapped in bordered up housing units, lying on blood stained beds awaiting an end. What kind of society is this? What has happened to Ottawa? What dystopian future? Is this today or a premonition?
Man’s best friend is muzzled with sadness deep in his eyes and the dead are in the morgue with their tagless feet hanging out of their cover sheets. More birds bringing prophecies of destruction and the old are reduced to weak and feeble lonely creatures. Mr. Fouhse was celebrated internationally by prominent publications like the New York Times for portraying humanity and resilience in Ottawa’s addict community, yet with this collection he is giving us anxiety and dread. A warning of what might be awaiting us. The subdued colours remind us that the future might not be bright after all, and this fact is not hard to imagine because we recognise our present city in these photographs.
Amid all of the talks of death and ruin, marginalisation and exclusion, dare I say there is hope? As though Mr. Fouhse is cautioning us, and when we are done going through his new work and welcome our old surrounding with fresh eyes, we feel determined that what we’d experienced should not be cemented. We can escape the dark days ahead, and if only we all decide to embrace community and equality instead of division and hatred, then maybe we can usher in a dawn to end all nights. And, if we ever become complacent and apathetic then we will have Mr. Fouhse work to remind us of the dangers a future with no hope holds.
The exhibition of Tony Fouhse’s new collection After the Fact will run from September 21-28, 2018 at Studio Sixty Six (858 Bank Street, unit 101, 2nd Level).