Lisa Klapstock: dreams of a place we have lived

Featuring select images from the photo series on Toronto advertising billboards

Lisa Klapstock, from dreams of a place we have lived, 2020-2023

Lisa Klapstock brings images from her series, dreams of a place we have lived, to Toronto advertising billboards

June 7 – July 2, 2023
Billboard Location 1: Dundas St West at Lansdowne Ave, Toronto
Billboard Location 2: 1356 Dundas St West, Toronto

Since the natural world is frequently used as a decorative backdrop in advertising to sell products and lifestyles that contribute to Nature’s destruction, Lisa Klapstock chose to use an advertising context and format to bring Nature back into the foreground.

Klapstock’s photo series, dreams of a place we have lived, comprises intimate landscape portraits made over 1.5 years in a central Ontario forest where she has a small log cabin. Over the past decade, Klapstock has become acutely sensitized to the forest eco-system. She began this work reflecting on the ways the natural world is often depicted in contemporary culture – as a decorative backdrop or a digitally enhanced fantasy – and how this ubiquitous representation compounds our alienation from Nature at the same time it is disappearing. Klapstock set out to make portraits in which the details of Nature are the focus of the photographs.

There are two kinds of pictures – unpopulated scenes, and those inhabited by various solitary female characters. Standing, sitting, or lying down, backs to the camera or faces averted, the women are engaged in something not immediately comprehensible. It gradually becomes clear that through their interactive postures, and their dress – reflective of patterns, colours and tempers of Nature – the women are seeking communion with Nature. Scenes move between seasons and meteorological conditions with the same characters appearing in different landscapes over time, sometimes doing inexplicable things. This contributes to the enchanted quality of the narrative.

The characters are Klapstock herself, both subject and photographer. Alone in the forest, with boxes of clothing and wigs, and her photography equipment, she dressed and undressed at each location, choosing outfits to resonate with the environment. We don’t typically dress up for Nature. In Klapstock’s photographs, dressing up is a kind of ritual, and a performative engagement with Nature.

As the natural world continues to disappear, Nature has become less something to fear, and more something to feel nostalgia for; to remember in a fragmentary way, like a dream. dreams of a place we have lived is a portrait of a cherished place; and an invitation to consider how we perceive and engage with the natural world before it is only a distant memory.

Lisa Klapstock, from dreams of a place we have lived, 2020-2023

The complete series of 100 images has been published as an artist’s book, dreams of a place we have lived, available at:
Art Metropole
Dashwood Books
Northeast Shop

Publisher: Something to think about:
Canada, 2023
Printed by Narayana Press DK
ISBN: 978-1-7782847-1-7
Pages: 150
Size: 42.5 cm x 28.5 cm x 2.3 cm
Cloth-bound hard cover

About the Artist

Lisa Klapstock is a Canadian lens-based artist whose work responds to place, and develops through a process of conscious looking, listening, and dwelling in a place over time. She uses the camera to investigate and describe environments and their inhabitation. Klapstock’s pictures draw attention to how we see and relate to our surroundings. She is interested in visual perception and the nature of photographic depiction – the ways the camera transforms what is visible to the naked eye. A figure is frequently present in the work as either an index or a character that serves to concretize the subject of the pictures. Typically, this figure is the artist herself, engaging in various kinds of performance. Klapstock has a BA (honours) in Communication from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, and has exhibited widely in Europe and North America where her photographic and video work, and recent artist’s books, are in numerous public and private collections.