hcma presents Empty City: Projections by David Ellingsen

Hcma’s inaugural 2021 Artist in Residence program presents photographs by David Ellingsen.

Hcma’s inaugural 2021 Artist in Residence features the work of David Ellingsen, a Canadian photographer who “creates images that speak to the relationship between humans and the natural world.”

According to hcma, Ellingsen focuses on themes of climate, deforestation, and biodiversity loss while drawing upon relationships to place.

Photo courtesy of hcma.ca

“Our Artist in Residence (AIR) program is one of our experimental forays that arranges a new dialogue between disciplines: what happens when artists expose us to different forms of creativity, while exposed to our world of architecture and design?” says hcma. “In the best instances, the project grows in previously unforeseen ways and we all come to see things a little differently than we would otherwise.”

Ellingsen’s residency was completed in Victoria, B.C, where he currently resides. For 10 weeks, each selected artist will focus on their practice, collaborate with staff, and share their process, techniques, and perspectives.

Following the theme of ‘Empty City’, Ellingsen’s work turned toward the species in urban spaces. Photographs were made recording digital projections of endangered animals and plants, within their native habitats, to address the extinction crisis in the Capital Regional District of Victoria. The species selected include the killer whale, the Barn Owl, the Propertius Duskywing moth, and a small plant called Footsteps of Spring.

Photo courtesy of hcma.ca

“During the research stage, it became apparent that the primary cause of the crisis is human-caused loss of pristine habitat, specifically through urban development, industrial resource extraction, and the loss of farmland,” says Ellingsen. “With the population of southern Vancouver Island projected to increase by almost 90,000 people by 2038, it seems likely our wild spaces will continue to decline unabated. The province of British Columbia reflects a similar trajectory, with over 1,300 species currently at risk of extinction.”

Due to the impacts of the pandemic, Ellingsen’s project faced several adjustments to the original direction. The photographer states that the most noticeable change was the intended public presentation.

Photo courtesy of hcma.ca

“Originally intended as outdoor, site-specific projections around Victoria to raise public awareness of the extinction crisis, when the time approached the province was well into the third wave of infection and the decision was made that encouragement of gatherings of any size was not appropriate,” says Ellingsen. “Instead, I headed out alone to quieter locations within the city to make the images, eventually releasing the final photographs through social media to maintain the original public-facing element of the project.”

For more information, visit: https://hcma.ca/empty-city-projections-by-david-ellingsen/