"Prairie Gothic" book cover
George Webber, "Prairie Gothic" book cover.
Photographs by George Webber
Rocky Mountain Books, 2013
Calgary photographer George Webber’s moody black-and-white photographs seem to violate any sense of the wide-open spaces of clichéd flatland lore. In this coffee-table book that features a 10-page essay by Alberta writer Aritha van Herk, Webber’s skies are overcast, more often than not, and towns are small and vulnerable, their bedraggled buildings tottering on the edges of rutted roads. Webber’s interiors have a similar cramped and mothballed quality, and the people that occupy them are often elderly, with faces as weathered as slumping barns, yet resolute in their steadfast gaze. Collectively, Webber’s images seem a visual dirge to what van Herk calls “a place beyond place" – the country he documents something we feel in our bones and cannot help but look at, again and again.