Jessica Auer is a photographer and visual artist from Montreal, Canada. Her work is broadly concerned with the study of cultural sites, focusing on themes that connect history, place, journey and cultural experience. Jessica received her MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University in 2007 and has since exhibited across Canada and abroad. An avid wanderer, she has participated in several international artist residencies including The Leighton Artist’s Colony at the Banff Centre in Alberta, The Brucebo Travel Residency based in Gotland, Sweden, The Chilkoot Trail AIR in Alaska and the Yukon Territory and the Skaftfell Centre for Visual Art in Seydisfjördur, Iceland. Recent exhibitions include: Patrick Mikhail Gallery, Montreal, 2016; Oslo8, Basel, Switzerland 2015; The Gotland Museum of Art, Visby, Sweden 2015; Sporobole, Sherbrooke, 2014; VU Photo, Quebec City, 2013 and The Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, 2013. Her first book, Unmarked Sites, was noted by Photo-Eye and the Indie Photobook Library as one of the top ten independent photography books published in 2011. Jessica currently teaches photography at Concordia University.
Why do you photograph on film?
I come from the generation of photographers who learned to photograph on film. We were trained on 35mm, made contact sheets and were encouraged to achieve perfect prints in the darkroom. I’m not nostalgic about this because it’s hardly in the past for me. The main differences are that now I use larger film, shoot mostly in colour and I scan my negatives so that I can continue to produce those “perfect” prints. I still work with film for so many reasons – the way light is captured differently by emulsion than by a sensor, my affinity for the 4×5 camera, the tactility of working with negatives, and the great image quality afforded to me by a high resolution scan. But most above all, I don’t think I yet managed to take a great photo with a digital camera.
What is your work about?
Broadly speaking, my work is concerned with the historical and cultural significance of specific sites. Having spent an extensive amount of time in the field, traveling, hiking and photographing landscape, I recently shifted the focus of work to explore the reflective aspects of my artistic process. The images submitted to Fotofilmic were captured during an artist residency in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland in January 2015. Breaking from my customarily research-based approach, I decided to centre my residency on the process of walking, wandering daily along the frontiers of a midwinter landscape within the limits of short daylight hours. Recalling light and darkness as the fundamental basis of photography, my goal was to extend my photographic process and personal experience of landscape to convey—both inwardly and outwardly—a time and place of transition.