Currently at the V.M.A.C. Gallery, by Ronald John George Nelson.

Domestic Solutions: The Photography of Richelle Forsey

 What first struck me when viewing Richelle Forsey’s photos of abandoned industrial sites was how much I was reminded of the famous prison etchings of Piranesi. The dramatic depl­­­oyment of limited light in cavernous spaces, punctuated by decaying structures and the abandoned flotsam of human activity all recalled the famous etchings of the 18th century master, but these photos tell a much different story than the romantic Kafkaesque re-imagining of ancient Roman architecture presented by Piranesi and his son in their celebrated etchings.

First of all, Forsey has a journalist’s eye for the telling human detail amidst the rubble. What we see is what she saw, and there are layers of meaning in every Forsey photograph that speak directly to our modern era.  She understands well the lessons of Henri Cartier-Bresson, where “the smallest thing can become a great subject.” Forsey identifies “the Decisive Moment” as the junction between the past, the present, and the future, a future that is crowding in on the present with ever increasing alacrity.

The human presence in these abandoned spaces is everywhere illuminated by its absence, and this absence creates a psychological tension which at times can recall the deadpan unblinking horror of a Cronenberg film. More importantly, Forsey allows us, the viewer, the revelatory moment, where every question becomes itself, the answer.


As Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “In order to give meaning to the world, one has to feel involved in what one frames through the viewfinder.” This is something that Forsey understands very well, with her mind, her eye, and her heart. She knows intuitively that there is no beauty without pathos, and there is great beauty in these ruinous images of abandonment that most people rarely experience, and that is her gift to us.


                                                 Ronald John George Nelson.

VMAC Gallery
401 Richmond St. W., Suite 440 (fourth floor)
Toronto ON
Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday: Noon to 4:00 pm

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