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by Geoffrey James

Toronto photographer Geoffrey James recently won the Roloff Beny Award – and a cool $30,000 – for Paris, his portrait of the changing face of the City of Lights. In Place, James explores the humbler, but no less dignified, changes of Lethbridge, Alberta, a City of Wind nestled amid the stunning cliffs and coulees of the Oldman River.
James’s arresting compositions of weatherbeaten storefronts and painfully new suburbs capture a sense of delicate stillness, as well as the city’s precarious relationship with its surroundings. In several photographs the coulees loom ominously in the background, as though they might roll in one day and grind the city to dust. Accompanying text by Rudy Wiebe contains the odd rhetorical excess – “To live in Lethbridge is to be perpetually inspired” is perhaps a slight exaggeration – but adds warmth and resonance to this moving portrait of a modestly beautiful place.