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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

"Surrender Pronto or we'll level Toronto"

Damn, it's getting near to that time of year when you get the best-of lists. It's always tricky to choose books and you have to be careful because, as Gary Cohen points out in his formula for writing best photobooks list, you don't want to be too transparent.

1. Mine
2. Yours
3. My other friend’s.
4. This one book I don’t really like, but everyone else does.
5. The book that hasn’t come out yet, but will be a best seller.
6. This one that if I say I like it will be good for me in the future.
7. A book I helped produce.
8. A book I hate but I put on here to be controversial.
9. A book made in such small release nobody has heard of it.
10. The book my cat (scratched up) chose.

There's a few more categories to go in there (this one's surprisingly nice) but you get the picture.

I love lists but it's always worth remembering that best doesn't mean best, a list can have something that doesn't exist on it, something that someone has sarcastically suggested as best, best can mean most toxic, or boring, or pretentious, or conformist. Y

Or it can mean 'best'. Which isn't the same as best.

Anyway, After the Fact by Tony Fouhse hits the 2, and possibly 7 because I did get to see it in progress and maybe 9 because it was published in an edition of 200, which is actually pretty high these days.

That's 3 out of 10, which isn't bad.

After the Fact looks at the city of Ottawa from what seems to me to be a slightly paranoid point of view. It's the idea that I identify with Cronenberg's early films where Southern Ontario and the satellite towns around Toronto serve as a landscape for the dark underbelly of Canadian life. It's not all Canadian Bacon, eh! and mounties in other words.

The order of anglophone Canada, the Squarehead way of thinking as the Quebecois put it, is resolved through images that have embedded within them a surveillance aesthetic mixed with End Times with an Ontarian Winter bleakness to chip into any smooth edges.

It's also very local with nearly all the pictures made within a mile or so of Fouhse's downtown Ottawa home, so that adds a personal element to the bleakness. You don't seem to get too many photobooks that are explicitly about Canada and Canadianicity, so this one is especially good to see. No, it's great to see!

Buy After the Fact here.

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