The Last Stand...a project with deep family connection surrounding the remains of the old growth forest in British Columbia and the human-altered landscape. A metaphoric symbol for the natural world that supports me, the contemporary globalized culture I am an active part of, and the essential incompatibility of the two.
The Last Stand Five generations of my family have been, and are, a part of the forest industry in British Columbia. From falling old growth trees to creating local sustainable harvest initiatives my great grandfather, grandfather, great uncle, father, brother, and nephew have all played a part. My great grandfather and great uncle, in providing for their families and future, fell many of the trees whose remnants you now see in these photographs. It was in this familial context and the presence of the past as it continues to shape my sense of identity, filtered through the contemporary environmental crisis and thoughts of my own responsibilities, that the seeds of this series were sown. At its beginning this project served me as a meditation on these icons from the human-altered landscape and soon evolved into a metaphor for the natural world that supports me, the contemporary globalized culture I am an active part of, and the essential incompatibility of the two. The cognitive dissonance arising from this dilemma of participation in, and yet responsibility for, the fouling of one’s own nest was a dominant theme guiding the creation of these photographs. This discomfort, resulting from holding two conflicting beliefs or ideals, and perhaps more importantly where it leads one, remains a key motivator in my work. Although this pattern has been repeated throughout human history, the urgency I feel in our globalized world is one of scale...a scale now said to be so vast, and perhaps nearing a point of no return. No doubt evolution is progressing as it should, yet I cannot help but feel apprehension for the life my family will lead in the not too distant future.
David Ellingsen is a Canadian photographer and environmental artist creating images of site-specific installations, landscapes and object studies that speak to the natural world and Man’s impact upon it. Employing different photographic techniques for each of his thematic series, Ellingsen acts as archivist, surrealist and storyteller as he calls attention to the contemporary state of the environment both directly and through subversive commentary about our consumerist society. As both a conceptual and humanistic photographer, Ellingsen’s images engage questions around the transience and temporality of existence and his thematic subjects are marked by simplicity, empathy and a wounded sense of humanity’s fate. Ellingsen’s photographs are part of the permanent collections of the Chinese Museum of Photography, the Dana Farber Cancer Centre at Harvard University and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and have been shortlisted for Photolucida's Critical Mass Book Award, awarded First Place at the Prix de la Photographie Paris and First Place at the International Photography Awards in Los Angeles. Ellingsen began his artistic career studying the craft of photography at a trade institute, through apprenticeships and then working as a freelance editorial and advertising photographer with clients that included the New York Times Magazine, Mens Journal, CBC Radio Canada, Telus and MTV/Nickelodeon. Simultaneously, Ellingsen was exhibiting his personal artwork within public and private galleries in Canada, the USA, and Asia and lectured at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Langara College and the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts where he still lectures on a regular basis. He continued this hybrid path for 13 years and then in 2013 focused fully on his artistic practice. Ellingsen lives and makes his work in Canada’s Pacific Northwest, moving between Vancouver, Victoria and the farm where he was raised on the remote island of Cortes.