Artist Statement | DaySleeper

 

We think we're more connected, but we've never been further apart.
I remember a time not long ago when social media didn’t exist. Everyone had landlines and left messages on people's answering machines if they weren't home. As a child, if I wanted to play with a friend I didn't plug into a game, I walked down the street and knocked on their door. I have vivid memories of growing up in the Canadian Prairies, playing ball hockey, riding my bike for hours, and sitting by the river with my friends – things I think a kid should remember. 
As the years passed, I began to crave new experiences. I moved to the West Coast in 1998 and for the better part of a decade, I never looked back. I spent that time photographing the darker side of humanity while patrolling the streets of Vancouver. It was then that I developed a unique relationship with the night. I found a freedom that the day never seemed to deliver; a peace and quiet in the air while most people slept. My fascination with darkness continued in 2009 when I purchased a painting by Chad Krowchuk of a monk stepping out of the shadows. It showed me how darkness could be used to illuminate beauty, and I found my attention turning once more to the prairies.  
As my father aged and fell ill, I visited home more often. After his passing, I took my camera and drove from Vancouver to Winnipeg on a two-day marathon of coffee, open road, and photography. I turned my lens from the ugliness of what people do to each other on those dark city nights to the beauty of the place I came from. During this drive (and many more that followed), I saw communities that were once vibrant aging and struggling to stay afloat. Important fixtures of these towns – grain elevators that provided the livelihood for generations, general stores that gave families their supplies for the week, and post offices that helped you stay in touch with your loved ones – were boarded up and left to fall over. I encountered strangers who invited me into their homes and treated me like family. I saw the Milky Way cut a path across the sky, free from the distraction of city lights. I saw farm roads lined with the glowing red eyes of deer, illuminated by my alien headlights.
We have been betrayed by our conveniences, and we have forgotten where we came from. We are connected by likes, faves, and plusses... fleeting and artificial things. I want to see your face. I want to hear your words. I want to shake your hand. I want to show you with light that there is beauty in the darkness.
This is DaySleeper.
Botha Mercantile

Botha Mercantile