lost canoe

Curtis Wehrfritz


The series lost canoe features an idyllic lake untouched by humans, save a lone, unmoored canoe. The pristine wilderness portrayed in Curtis Wehrfritz’s wet collodion process suggests a timeless memory as old as the method by which he captures his images. Somehow familiar, this reimagined landscape also seems to be haunted by the past.

Whether someone speaks of the First Nations and the explorers they taught, or of fond personal memories of summer camp, the canoe is imprinted on people’s col‐ lective imagination. Hand‐crafted, unmanned, unmoored, the canoe is timeless. There is a saying that every campfire brings back the memory of another fire; so too with paddling a canoe.

The wet collodion process dates to the earliest recorded photographic images. The plates are individually hand‐poured, dipped in silver nitrate, and exposed in a camera. The exposures must be made and developed while the plate is still wet, connecting viewers to a moment in time that the plate itself witnessed. Each unique, hand‐polished plate acts as a machine for memory.