Surreal snapshots of Canadian city life

Surreal snapshots of Canadian city life

Weird in Winnipeg — Karen Asher’s ‘ambiguous and chaotic’ photography offers a new perspective on life in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Winnipeg is small, isolated, funny, crusty and sort of cool in a down-on-its-luck, life sucks kind of way. The city is cheap and accessible, and the arts community is friendly and supportive. I love my cats.

I’ve felt the need to leave the city since I was a teenager, but it still hasn’t happened. I was born in Montreal, and I’m still mad at my dad for bringing us to Winnipeg as a child. I always imagine how exotic and metropolitan my life would have been if we hadn’t left. I did live in Japan for a year, and every day fantasise longingly (and unrealistically) about moving to New York. It’s an impossible, punky pipe dream.

I find my subjects by asking the people around me — they’re mostly friends and acquaintances. Sometimes the idea comes first and I find the right person, sometimes I’m totally inspired by an individual and I start imagining a photoshoot. It’s pretty random and I just go with the flow. Winnipeg has a really great art scene and I’ve been lucky with people generously letting their guard down and trusting me to just create whatever I’m dreaming of.

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I’ve always been in love with raw moments that are complex and intense. My first three art crushes were Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin and Weegee, so it’s not a total surprise what inspires my personal aesthetic. I also love connecting with people, so that’s always been my focus.

Earlier on in my career, I made unconventional portraits that were probably a bit too pretty. With time, I’ve been more interested in trying to create an ambiguous, chaotic moment — I like art that is multi-layered and asks a lot of questions. My artistic vision is continuously evolving, and I’m becoming more and more interested in abstracting the figure to the point of absurdity.

Pretty much everything inspires me: youth, aging, dying, bodies, dance, music, film, jokes, isolation, depression, big cities, wandering the streets, being on buses… I’m a freaky emotional buffoon, so everything to me is extreme and ridiculous. I’m inspired by daily life, even just the boring stuff. I have a staring problem. I’m a freak. The end.

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See more of Karen Asher’s work on her official website.

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