Jessica Auer

Public talk | Les Consultations : 29.03.2013



Jessica Auer received her MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University in 2007 and has since presented several solo exhibitions in Canada and the United States. In 2011, she published her first book Unmarked Sites, which was selected by photo-eye and the Indie Photobook Library as one the top 10 photo books of the year. She recently participated in several residency programs including the Leighton Artist’s Studios at The Banff Centre in Alberta, and as a Brucebo scholarship recipient in Gotland, Sweden. She is a co-founder and a board member at Galerie Les Territoires in Montréal and teaches photography at Concordia University.


Drawing inspiration from history and archeology, my photographic work is largely concerned with the study of cultural sites. From the beaten track to the frontier, I explore places where history and mythology are woven into the landscape, and where contemporary landscape issues emerge. My current project The Vinland Sagas, explores the Nordic region of the Atlantic and the historic manuscripts that tell of the Viking voyages that lead to the discovery of North America (Vinland). As memory dissolved behind the myth, these stories have become part fiction and part documentary. By using an artistic medium that combines reality with narrative, my images attempt to reflect the ambiguity of the sagas and shed light on how history is written from the present.


The conceptual framework of The Vinland Sagas investigates the relationship between the documentary and fictional characteristics of the sagas through a similarly paradoxical medium: photography. To what extent do the sagas preserve history, and how much are they imagined? Similarly, I am interested in the subjective role of the researcher/photographer. By presenting photographs and anecdotes from my journey, my talk will focus on how the landscape reveals not only how time is layered and compacted, but how the passage of time and a photographer’s inclination for
storytelling can create an ambiguity between the historical and the imaginary.
The Vinland Sagas is currently a work in progress.