Martha Street Studio — Obscura


11 Martha Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 1A2

204 779 6253


Storm 2 by Angela Snieder. Digital print on Japanese paper, 9x6', 2017.

Angela Snieder

September 6th, 2019 to October 18th, 2019
Opening: September 6th, 5-8pm

Artist talk: Saturday September 7, 2-3pm
ASL interpretation provided upon request

These events are free and open to the public.

*If you are interested in attending the artist talk on September 7th and require ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 204 779-6253 by 5pm on Wednesday September 4th.


Obscura engages with questions of truth and artifice related to experience, perception, and lens-based processes. Through various photographic forms, including photopolymer prints, large-scale pasted prints and moving analog projections, the works in the exhibition aim to prompt a negotiation of reality and its representations that calls into question the truthfulness of photography. 

The role of illusion is central to the printed and projected scenes. Photographic textures and surfaces offer a sense of familiarity, recalling physical spaces such as mineshafts, caves, undergrowth or mountains, but incongruities in scale and subject matter unsettle the scenes and allude to their artifice.What is happening in the shifting moment when the eye catches on to the trick; and how does the knowledge of this conspiracy alter the experience of the image? The feeling of certainty comes in and out of focus as tall grass undulates or an illuminated fog floats in a snow-filled room.  

The newest work, Field (2019), is a moving analog projection created with two camera obscura devices. Whereas historically the camera obscura projected an image of the external world (reversed and inverted), the devices in the exhibition reveal fabricated physical spaces, projected through apertures onto the walls of a darkened room.


Angela Snieder is an artist working primarily in photo-based print media and installation. She completed her BFA at York University (2013) and her MFA in Printmaking at the University of Alberta (2017). Angela taught for several years at the University of Alberta in Printmaking, Foundations, Drawing and Intermedia, and at the Society of Northern Alberta Print Artists (SNAP). She has exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently in a solo show at Alberta Printmakers in Calgary, and in group shows including the 7th International Guanlan Print Biennial in Shenzhen, China, and the Krakòw International Print Triennial in Krakòw, Poland. She is the recipient of a SSHRC graduate scholarship and a Research and Creation Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for an ongoing project with collaborator Morgan Wedderspoon. Angela currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario.


Martha Street Studio gratefully acknowledges the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council for their dedicated support of our professional programming.


Artist Statement:

How can we think about the relationship between physical and psychological spaces? My creative practice explores the possibility that the intersection of the two can foster deeply contemplative experiences and enable attentive and empathetic consideration of our relationship with the world. 

Working in photo-based print media and installation, I make use of the mimetic qualities inherent to photography, with the hope of drawing attention not only to the photograph’s capacity for deception, but also to the duplicitous nature of perception and memory. Since their invention, photographic impressions have held an evidentiary power due to their indexical relationship with the physical world.Using the diorama as a creative device, I construct spaces that play with this implicit sense of trust. The resulting printed and projected images reference built structures, but exist in a state of transformation, as if being reclaimed by natural materials and processes. These dream-like scenes serve to explore an ‘in-betweenness’; spaces of both protection and entrapment, of natural and built, of fascination and fear. They are settings in which something is on the verge of taking place.


Obscura: The Work of Angela Snieder
Text by sophia bartholomew


What can I tell you about this place? The sound of the wind. The dust on my hands. The rain and the sound of rustling, nighttime. There’s wind in the grass, and wind through a crack in the door. There are voices in the distance, and engine noises. Thunder…

Sitting here in the near-dark, immersed in Angela Snieder’s Field, I can feel the movement of my mind as it begins the process of trying to build a picture. Somewhere in the back rooms of my thoughts, I splinter each sound and image into fragments, naming and rearranging them. As they pass over me, into me, I compare them to pieces of my known world, slowly cataloguing…

From Latin, the term “camera obscura” translates to “dark chamber,”and inside Snieder’s camera obscura the light passes through a photo-enlarger lens, showing us the black and white interior of a handmade diorama, projected onto the gallery wall. Although the projection is video-like, it is fundamentally unlike video in that it is ephemeral, unrepeatable. For me, it recalls the months I spent living with my elderly grandmother—cooking and cleaning and talking and listening—learning something about memory and other interior architectures.

During this time, I began to think that our memories and stories might live not only within us, but alongside us, symbiotically—breathing and stretching, changing as we do. Their bodies eventually failing as ours do, either in or out of synch with our own bodies…

As my grandmother’s memories began to falter and re-form, I felt the possibility in my own mind: all the names disappeared from things—the sharpness of my memories softening into the liquid of a feeling. Lines drawn looser around objects, gradually slackening and falling away: 

The walls of her world are caving in around us, slowly. There’s moisture in the mortar, and the concrete blocks are falling, loosening. There are tree roots reaching into the foundation and shaking with the noise from the trains. Meanwhile, everything left outside disappears into dirt, and any one person begins to resemble another person, over time. The fabric of her memories is worn thin, though there’s always something else there to fill in the hole. The boundaries between things are decaying—ground down into nothing— 

Speaking over the phone, I learn that Snieder has built each of these pictures from clay and sticks and roots and light: making dioramas out of cardboard boxes before photographing and printing them, or revealing them through a camera obscura. The austerity of each image contradicted by the whimsy of its own making.  

Through the use of centuries-old image-making technologies, Obscura also invokes the past—adding another layer of unknowability and abstraction. The shadowy architectures are both cavernous and permeable, breaking open and crumbling away. Seen together, they carry a certain gravity, but also an openness, an unexpected playfulness. They reveal a slippage between physical and psychological space, and bring to mind the fragile scaffolding of pattern and memory, truth and narrative—structures we have each built up around ourselves—repairing and maintaining them in order to survive.  

Ultimately, the work reminds me that any “account of myself is always partial, haunted by that for which I can devise no definitive story…”[1] 

Here there is no certainty. There is only provisional structure. 


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1] From Judith Butler’s Giving An Account of Oneself (Fordham University Press, 2005) p.40


 sophia bartholomew (they/them) is an interdisciplinary artist who uses text and textiles, photographs and video to explore emotional and ecological reciprocity, physical fragility and decay. Since graduating with their BFA from UBC in 2012, their practice has been guided by open-ended conversation, and collaborative work with other artists.

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