Jim Breukelman: Altered States
Opening reception: Tuesday, March 19, 7–9 p.m.
In 1966, Jim Breukelman photographed patrons at a diner in Pawtuket, Rhode Island, over a period of three months. The diner, located in an industrial area, was frequented by factory workers and truckers. At the time, Breukelman was completing his degree at the Rhode Island School of Design, noting that his generation leaned toward the counter-culture end of the spectrum, while the people who ate at the diner did not. Breukelman observed that different groups would gather throughout the day depending on their place in the hierarchy at the nearby plants—labourers in the morning, followed by managers and so on. In 1999, Breukelman revisited this series, transforming it into an artist book in which he printed images to pages using a T-shirt transfer technique. The pages in the book are contained in a case that resembles the Formica counter at the diner.
In this exhibition, Breukelman revisits the diner series once again, where it will be installed with a second, more recent series of photographs of a taxidermy shop, a mesocosm and altered landscapes. Each of these images showcase spaces altered by humans. While to some, these works and those from the diner series may seem politically charged, Breukelman asserts instead that they are born out of curiosity and are apolitical:
“Each begins with the unexpected discovery of evidence showing how humankind’s ideas about nature eventually manifest themselves physically in the world.”
In 1967, Jim Breukelman founded the fine art photography program at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, one of the first multidisciplinary programs in Canada. Through his practice and teaching, Breukelman influenced the development of photographic art and artists in Vancouver. His works are in national and international private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada. Breukelman is represented by Republic Gallery in Vancouver.