Category Archives: Place & Space

Invitation: ELEMENTAL Photographic Exhibition

After more than 30 years of shooting and nearly 125,000 images, I’m pleased to announce the opening of my first solo exhibition. The invitation is below; I hope you have the opportunity to stop by.

For complete information on the exhibit, visit www.elementalphotographic.com 
Andrea Cordonier

Exhibition Overview

An interpretation of earth, water, fire, wind and void

Generally, I shoot what’s before me. Partly, that’s a reflection of my time not being my own for so many years. More often than not, I was shooting with kids in tow, who threatened to run onto the road or fall off cliffs, leaving only seconds to capture whatever had caught my eye. It honed my reflexes and made me hyper-aware of my surroundings.

At that time, the sheer amount of data being uploaded to my brain kept me from going mad and released the endorphin rush one would normally ascribe to a sustained period of “flow.” By design and necessity, flow manifested itself in minute and unpredictable packets of time. But limitations are not such a bad thing. They’ve made me a more responsive and intuitive shooter.

When I began sifting through myriad photographs to cull and sort and, finally, choose images that would form this first show, the theme quickly came to the fore. I was reading The Book of Five Rings by Musashi Miyamoto, a Buddhism-infused book by a 17th-century Samurai swordsman which spoke directly to the five elements of earth, water, wind, fire and void, a simple yet striking way to describe the natural forces that repeatedly presented themselves in my work.

We think we can conquer and subsume the natural world. We think we can somehow improve on it, create a more ordered existence. But we can’t. It’s already perfect beyond the shallow limits of our imagination. We have already been granted Paradise in every soil, rock, sky and native plants and trees, and in the sun and rain that have brought life and longevity to this planet. This has been absorbed by my brain and my bones, forever altering the way I see and think and feel. We are inseparable.

But even the most elemental of my photographic pieces have overtures of the human in them, implied if not overt. A distinctive narrative structure reveals itself through detail, bold composition, the use of light and shadow, careful juxtaposition, and select revelation. What is not seen is as critical as what is, demanding a second and third look.

In shaping the show, I’ve been mindful that ELEMENTAL is not a sweeping retrospective but the first public showing of a selection of my work. As such, I’ve focussed on two styles:

On the brick wall hangs a single series of large format colour landscapes entitled “Drive-By Shooting, Saskatchewan.”

The B&W narrative non-fiction are arranged opposite, combining a series (“Ferry Hair”) with individually framed, thematically-connected yet otherwise unrelated pieces.

I have to start somewhere. This is where I’ve chosen to begin. I’m delighted to have you along for the journey.

Andrea Cordonier
www.elementalphotographic.com
August, 2017

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A Psycho House on Top

While most people who drive the I-81 through Syracuse, New York are focussed on the gargantu-signs that foretell their arrival at the state’s largest shopping complex, I am fixated on another architectural curiosity: a decrepit Victorian house on top of an abandoned warehouse. Continue reading A Psycho House on Top

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Developing a Personal Point of View

I stop for a latte and drink in the view. The café, six tables and a banquette against the plate glass wall, offers a window onto the Byward Market and the Gatineau hills. Wind pushes the clouds across the city in an ephemeral drama of light and shadow. A commercial crane, red and ten stories tall, anchors the scene. Continue reading Developing a Personal Point of View

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What I See When I See Smiths Falls – Part 3

You can find Part 1 & Part 2 here.


After 17 years and a thousand round trips, I could drive from Burritt’s Rapids to Smiths Falls with my eyes closed. But why would I want to? Continue reading What I See When I See Smiths Falls – Part 3

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Winter Light

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Frost at Midnight

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More Than Enough Refugee Blues to Go Around

Refugee Blues was published by writer and poet W.H. Auden in 1939, at the start of World War II.

It’s safe to say not much has changed and, perhaps, it never will if war and hatred continue to be our modus operandi. The million dollar question is this: Are we doomed as humans to this destructive cycle of scapegoatism and righteous indignation? Or is there truly a possibility – a probability – for something else?

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

Continue reading More Than Enough Refugee Blues to Go Around

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Guerrilla Art for Curious People

It took 18 years of rural living for Guerrilla Art for Curious People to surface.

The idea popped into my brain because I love nothing more than discovering public art in unexpected places. Every time I’m surprised by an installation – turning a corner or driving through a neighborhood – my body vibrates, my head alights and I am consumed by happiness. To quote Mr. Whitman, I Sing the Body Electric. Continue reading Guerrilla Art for Curious People

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What I See When I See Smiths Falls – Part 2

This is the second in a series of visual love letters to Smiths Falls, one of my favourite towns in Eastern Ontario.

You can find the first installment here.

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Skating the Rideau Canal in Burritt’s Rapids

I love living in a place with distinct seasons. What I particularly love is that just when I start to really, really enjoy something – swimming in the river, gardening, snowshoeing, falling leaves – it’s gone. Skating on the Rideau Canal in Burritt’s Rapids is like that. And its fleeting and unpredictable nature makes me appreciate it that much more.

Skating the Rideau Canal in Burritt's Rapids
A panoramic of Burritt’s Rapids and its natural skating rink on the Rideau Canal

Continue reading Skating the Rideau Canal in Burritt’s Rapids

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What I See When I See Smiths Falls

This is the first in a series of visual love letters to Smiths Falls, one of my favourite towns.


I’m from Vancouver, and while there are great things about the westcoast, I have called rural Ottawa home for the past 20 years.

The single best thing I love about living in the east is the riches of small towns and villages, roads that lead everywhere, chalk-full of opportunities to stop, talk to people, poke around and discover. Smiths Falls, just 20 minutes from where we live, has been my second home since the birth of our first child, when my in-laws sold up in Sudbury and moved to be close to us. Continue reading What I See When I See Smiths Falls

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