Subarctic Phase

Karen Zalamea

Curated by Katie Belcher

27 Apr to 14 Jun 2019

In keeping with the ephemeral nature of the photographic process, Karen Zalamea used a handcrafted 4×5 camera and fashioned lenses out of ice to produce her newest series of photographs, They are lost as soon as they are made. Working in collaboration with technicians to fabricate lens moulds, she used these moulds to freeze local water while in Reykjavík, Iceland. The work explores the possibilities of deconstructing the mechanics of image-making, and of capturing the natural landscape with elements of nature itself.

Through her materially-driven process, Zalamea asks, “Can the landscape reveal and render its own photographic image?”


KAREN ZALAMEA‘s art practice has developed through the lens of many disciplines, mainly photography, video, and installation. Her process involves a hands-on material engagement with image-making, from photographing studio constructions to the material handling of photographic objects. She is interested in the possibilities of the photographic surface and the subsequent relationship between its object manipulation and its optical representation.

Zalamea’s practice embraces a range of analogue and digital photographic processes. Through various projects, her work continues to consider what constitutes a photograph, how images can contain evidentiary traces of process, and how meaning is shaped between lens, light, space, and surface.

She studied at Concordia University (MFA) and at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (BFA). She is the recipient of several awards, including the inaugural Sylvie and Simon Blais Foundation Award for Emerging Visual Artists. Her work has also been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Zalamea’s work has been presented across Canada and internationally in solo and group exhibitions and as public art projects. She lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.


With gratitude as guests, Access is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.


This exhibition is part of the 2019 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibition Program

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Access gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of the following funders as well as our committed family of donors, members, and volunteers, for enabling this organization to remain vigorous and connected to the communities we support.

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