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As anyone can attest, there is something eerie about spaces and places that have been abandoned. Unnervingly, these once occupied, perhaps even bustling places, or cherished items have been cast away. As time passes, nature slowly reclaims them, erasing, slowly in increments, reclaiming them back to the soil – a final resting place. But in Fichter’s work, the essence of humanity remains, and it is that spirit, now missing, that is perhaps the most haunting.
Byron Fichter began the series of works in Abandoned in 2012. “Interested in capturing the ‘ghosts’ that haunt the Prairies”, Fichter would capture deteriorating buildings, abandoned farm machinery, rusting cars, dilapidated churches, all with a common theme of abandonment. The desertion of such structures and equipment, things that were all once valuable and are still highly coveted today – a home, a vehicle, a means of livelihood, a place of worship – makes one wonder why such desirable things have been left behind. Truly markers of time, they share narratives of shifting industries, desires, and populations. This was Fichter’s initial instinct, to capture something in transition, to freeze it in time. As he began the series and mentioned it to friends, family, co- workers, etc....it expanded beyond capturing things that looked haunted but also spoke to local folklore. In one particular piece, “Untitled”, featuring a decaying barn, a field of grass in the foreground, the story of seven separate people unfolds, each individual dying an untimely death due to accident or suicide. In this instance, local lore would like to claim the land as haunted, but whether it is or not is for the individual to decide.
Some day, these objects will no longer exist; the people who populated these spaces may become a thing of folklore. Conceivably the most disturbing, yet comforting aspect of Abandoned is that these works serve as markers, cairns, tombstones, of what will inevitably be no more. They aren’t quite ghosts yet but someday they will be.
Amber Andersen, Estevan Art Gallery and Museum Director, 2015
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