In Search of Gotham - My First Ever Photography Exhibit

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Even though Bruce Wayne is a fictional character, I've always admired him growing up. I saw him as an imaginary representation of an idea we all wish we could be. A self-iess hero for the people. But beyond all the glory of being a caped crusader he also  symbolized the tragedy and sacrifice that comes along with this life.  He had no super powers. He was rich and spent all his wealth selflessly on weapons and tools that would help him in his fight for justice. He's one man trying  to inspire change. One man returning hope to a city that lost it all. One man taking it upon himself to make a difference even when no one else wanted him to. He sacrificed his own life and happiness for the sake of the greater good.  

Most of us have the capacity to do good. Most of us do just enough for our own lives and maybe even for some of the people around us. But it takes a hero to do it for strangers. Do it to save an entire city and generation of people. 

Although, I am nothing like Bruce Wayne or Batman, I like to imagine myself as a Bruce Wayne/ Batman on a smaller scale. A much smaller scale. lol. Even if no one agrees with me. Yea, I don't sit on rooftops, have any cool gadgets, I dont drive a Batmobile or get to save any hot women while fighting evil villains. I dont live in a cave and all my facebook friends aren't bats, but I'd like to think that Im still creating a change in my generation, that Im taking it upon myself to help others. That even though there are people that probably hate me and what I stand for, that Ill still persevere for those who are waiting on me. I gave up a lot to be the person that I became. I was barely home, I missed my family and friends, I was working nonstop, didnt sleep and lost myself completely. Even though I was around people all the time, I constantly felt alone. Like I said, I don't think Im anywhere close to being as important as Batman was to Gotham, I'd like to think that one day when Im gone, Ill still live on in the legend of our city. 

So if I'm Bruce Wayne and Batman, then Toronto is my re-imagining of Gotham City. They say you're a product of your surroundings, so I guess all of this would only make sense. 

Have you ever walked down the street, seen a building so epic that it made you suddenly imagine yourself as someone else much grander than you are. Like you were watching a great heroic adventure movie? As much as Batman was the inspiration for this collection/ exhibit, it was Toronto. Sometimes we get so used to seeing our city as just home and we forget to step out of it for a second and take it in for what it really is. Think about all the movie directors who use Toronto for super hero movies. There's a real beauty in our city that we forget sometimes.

I hope the collection helps you see what I see and puts the city into perspective for you. All it ever takes is a little change in perspective.

When I told Gavin (of the Remix Project) about this idea, he immediately encouraged me to make an exhibit out of it. Without too much convincing, I was game and started prepping for it. This exhibit was probably 4 years ago now, but I still remember how close we played it. I didnt finish the prints and the framing until the day before. 

Gav and Tiff helped me find a dope little exhibit space in a back alley off Ossington, which couldn't have been a better location for the concept. We had Jonny Hawkin spinning, the Dark Knight playing on the ceiling, candles, graffiti on the walls and a super dope vibe.  

I honestly thought the collection was whatever, (but you're always critical when it comes to your own work) but to see the reactions of everyone who came by and asked me about the photos really made me appreciate my own work a little more. Almost all my prints were sold...and they were even sold for more than I thought anyone would have cared to spend on my work. 

I was 23 at the time and it was honestly one of the most proudest moments of my life. Just the year before I was driving around in a Bell truck, climbing phone poles and rooftops, hanging phone lines and crawling through dingey crawl spaces installing phone jacks. And before that I was in a call center answering phone lines for real estate agents and plumbers. lol. I was spent 5 years at York University studying global politics and urban geography hoping to be a high school teacher, but nothing ever really felt fulfilling to me. And I was never really really confident with where I was going.

For the first time ever, I felt like I had some direction in my life. The outcome of that exhibit made me feel like I knew where I was going and it wasn't for me to be the greatest photographer ever. That was never my purpose. It was to tell stories. It was to show the world to see what I saw. Change your perspectives through photography and writing about my experiences and journeys. It was to push for change and inspire a generation and culture. To instill hope and remind everyone that nothings easy, but all it takes its a step forward. I am nowhere near successful, but I am still further than I ever imagined I would ever be. And that's still something to be really happy about. In the mean time, all we can strive for is progress. But whether I've been successful in carrying out my purpose for our city hardly matters right now anyways. That's something that we'll only be able to evaluate when Im gone, retired or dead. 

And maybe everything I just said isn't my purpose at all. Maybe it's just me fantasizing about an epic life time. Maybe. But hey, if that's what keeps me motivated, so be it. I just want to say thank you to everyone who's supported me thus far. Like I said, we are a product of our surroundings, and Im surrounded by you.

Thank you to Gavin for always seeing things in me that I never knew existed. To Bryan E, Future and Drex for supporting me both inside and outside of Remix. Thank you to Tiff, Robin and Clint for all your help with the venue and curation. Thank you Fresh, Addy and Julie for their moral support during that hectic time. Thank you to my mom who finally smiled at me and said she was proud of me for the first time since she found out I wasn't going to pursue what I went to school for. Thank you to my siblings of course for being there and to everyone else who came out to support, take a picture, posed for a picture, bought a picture, hung out, enjoyed the pics, shook my hand and just made the night memorable. I will never forget that night. 

Thank you. Sincerely.

Peace and love.

T's and O's.

Click on the thumbnails below to open up the slideshow.

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