Joseph Hartman : Press

"Joseph Hartman featured in 'Toronto Life'"
Source: Toronto Life Magazine
Published: 11/11/2011
Author: Nathan Whitlock

Current Obsession: With Neil Young as his guide, photographer Joseph Hartman went looking for the town he could barely remember

By Nathan Whitlock | Photography by Joseph Hartman

Joseph Hartman

Neil Young Gothic, if such a thing exists, eschews flash and cleverness in favour of lumber-jacketed authenticity and a wistful, even sentimental yearning for lost homes, places and childhoods. Joseph Hartman taps into that plaintive mode with a new series of photographs created partly as a psychological investigation. Hartman spent his earliest years in First Nations communities on the north shore of Lake Superior, where his mother worked as a teacher. Decades later, he began to wonder if his memories of the area were fabrications based on stories he’d been told by his parents. So, in 2010, at the age of 32, he drove north to find out. Some of the resulting photos, which make up his third solo exhibition, betray the influence of Edward Burtynsky, for whom Hartman works as an archivist. Hartman’s images (like “Boat and Shed, Heron Bay” above), however, are much more intimate than Burtynsky’s, and less journalistic. He is not documenting industry run amok or epic shifts in how we live, but bringing to light seemingly unremarkable places that had, for him, previously existed only in his head. Part of the inspiration for the project, according to Hartman? Young’s aching-for-Ontario tune “Helpless.”