Over the past 15 years I have explored relationships between photography as object, image and event, through installation, performance, and in academic research and writing. I received an interdisciplinary PhD in Anthropology and Visual Art from University of Victoria, Canada (2010).

Photography and liveliness

My visual research into contested territories of parks and protected areas in North America explores the affective force and materiality of photography.

In my theorization of photography, I ask, how are photographs not only fixed as images or objects, but lively, entangled and emergent events? I pose this question within communities that engage parks, for example, through the art projects Finding Aid and Portable Camera Obscura in Waterton Lakes National Park. Together, using simple camera forms and archival photographs, we follow fleeting moments and shifting visualities to account for the fundamental impermanence of life.

A photo of Trudi Lynn Smith (taken by Lynette Hiebert) showing Smith working with a group to perfectly re-locate an archival photograph and position the Portable Camera Obscura on that spot.

In recent writing I explore the ethical and political implications of focusing on the event over the fixed image in colonial photography. For example I recently published The Anthropology of Historical Photography in a Protected Area: Life and death in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta (2014), in the journal Anthropologica (56) 117-153. In this paper, I break down colonial photographs through attempts at re-enactment to reveal their connection to life and death, injustices and inequality. In connected artworks I create new composited forms.

Some of my research and site-specific interventions are archived on trudilynnsmith.blogspot.ca

Art/anthropology intersections

I am interested in bringing together the methods of art practice and social research in my writing, presentations and artworks, for example I explore the connections between the two in my current research project Residue, and in publications such as Repeat Photography as Method in Visual Anthropology published in the journal Visual Anthropology.

I am a founding member of the curatorial collective Ethnographic Terminalia, an experimental project that since 2009, has curated exhibitions in North American cities, working with over 150 artists and anthropologists to demonstrate how contemporary artists, anthropologists, and institutions are engaging with anthropology, ethnographic methods, and art. Beyond the gallery, we’re committed to post disciplinary projects: pushing the boundaries of anthropology and art through experimental installations, events and publications.

While much of my work is situated in events and installations outside of galleries, my exhibitions include Finding Aid at The Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Portable Camera Obscura at the Crane Arts (USA), Conduit (with Jamie Drouin) at Open Space Gallery; Fieldnotes at the Nanaimo Art Gallery. My place specific works have been installed/engaged with in (selected): Waterton Lakes National Park (CAN), City of Rocks Natural Preserve (USA); Yellowstone NP (USA); Capitol Reef National Park (field station) (USA); Santa Cruz Island (USA).

I’m interested in connections between feminist art practice and the studio and since 2011 I’ve worked with artist Lynda Gammon to make a series of interventions — an artist book, an academic publication, a large format camera and events, called 562 Fisgard.

I currently teach in the School of Environmental Studies at UVic and am the Artist-in-Residence at Making Culture Lab, SFU.

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