Joanne Jackson Johnson
Chromogenic Lightjet Prints, Whitehorse, Yukon 2005
In the late 1980s I photographed industrial sites in Manitoba, specifically hydroelectric generating stations, company towns and related landscape. It was an extension of earlier work that I had made in the early 1970s in Winnipeg when I set out to record my old haunts, looking to illustrate memories. But in the Hydro series, I began to photograph in a more objective way, using a medium format camera on a tripod, often making long exposures to render the subject matter in as much detail as possible. As I trekked around Northern Manitoba in search of an image of the industry as it had developed during the early to mid-20th century, I began to look at ways of using light, structure and space. Content was important, but only in balance with form. The challenge was to transform both the everyday and the arcane into strong photographs.
In the current series about Whitehorse and its relation to the Alaska Highway construction period, I have selected places that people here see every day. I have lived with these structures and the knowledge of their history since 1989 but haven't photographed them until now. In the 1940s and 1950s new construction included federal government housing and offices, industrial compounds and the temporary dwellings thrown up to accommodate the large influx of highway construction workers. Some of these, such as the Takhini North houses, have been changed to suit their current users. Others, like the log skyscrapers, have merely been incorporated into the Whitehorse of today. Thematically, the five images in the exhibition show the architecture of the Alaska Highway in its contemporary context and reflect a way of life lived over the past half century.