Catherine Canac-Marquis – Every time I walked into my room, I took a picture through the window

Review by Wayne Swanson •

Here’s a tip for photographers who are struggling to find something worth shooting: just look out the window. Catherine Canac-Marquis takes this idea to an extreme in the appropriately titled Every time I walked into my room, I took a picture through the window.

Over the course of 17 days in November of 2017, the French Canadian-born photographer took a photo from the window of her second-floor apartment in Reykjavik, Iceland, whenever she stepped into the room. The view was nothing special. Three parking spaces in the foreground next to a kindergarten building. The corner of a play area in the center. An apartment complex behind that and, on clear days, a view of snow-capped mountains in the background. She took 101 identically composed images, presented chronologically, of this rather banal scene. But something mesmerizing happens as you turn page after page. Slowly, the life of a landscape and a community is revealed.

Some of the changes are obvious. We see the light of morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Sunny, hazy, cloudy, rainy, snowy days. Bright light, drab light, sweet light, no light. Unlike photographers who patiently wait for the “best” light, Canac-Marquis catalogs it all.

Other changes are more subtle. Several pages in, a lone figure appears on the lawn in one corner. Farther along, children begin to appear in the play area. Lights turn on and off in the apartment building across the way. Snow falls on the barren ground, covers it, and eventually begins to melt. The mountains are revealed and concealed as the weather changes. The cars in the parking spaces come and go (except for the red SUV, which never moves).

At first the static view makes it difficult to identify the changes. Then it becomes a challenge to locate all the changes in different parts of the scene. The book invites repeated browsing to discover more details and changes. In the process, we begin to sense the rhythm of daily life. We’re reminded that no scene is really static. There’s always something happening somewhere in the frame.

The book’s design is simple but clever. The dust jacket can be unfolded to reveal a calendar that lists the date, time, and sunrise/sunset hours for each photo. Inside the book, there is no text, just the chronology of images. They are presented full-bleed on each right-hand page, with the edge of the photo carried over onto the following page, emphasizing the continuity of the project. Interspersed are a few images, printed on tracing paper, with no noted time. Canac-Marquis calls them “a statement to the incompletion of an image without the equally important documentation to accompany it.” Well, maybe, but these translucent images at least offer a way to compare the subtle differences among images.

Over the course of 204 pages, we come to appreciate how much there is to discover in even a mundane scene. And all you have to do is look out the window to find it.

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Wayne Swanson is a Contributing Editor and a San Diego-based fine art photographer and writer.

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Every time I walked into my room, I took a picture through the window, Catherine Canac-Marquis

Photographer: Catherine Canac-Marquis, born Quebec City, Canada, resides Long Beach, CA

Self-published, Edition of 50, copyright 2020

Text: English

Stiffcover book with foil stamp on front and back cover and dust jacket/fold-out calendar, perfect binding, four-color lithography, 6.75 x 9.75 in., 101 images, 204 pages, printed in United Kingdom, ISBN 978-1-7773079-0-5

Photobook designer: Emily Macaulay

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Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are copyright of the authors and publishers.

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