Artist Statement

When I was young my father would make us explore building sites. The whole family would pile in the car and drive around Calgary until we found a house being built that my father thought was interesting and we would break into this unfinished house and look around. These excursions are the most vivid memory I have from my childhood and I believe are one of the biggest influences on my photography practice today.

Ever since I started taking photographs I have been compelled to photograph spaces in transition, buildings that are in between their usefulness, as well as overlooked and marginalized areas. While photographing these subjects the process becomes as much a part of the work as the final print. To find beauty in the dirt, the mundane, the empty, one has to explore, to look from vantage points not normally realized, and most of all always be looking. Because I work in this manner it lends a special connection between me and my environment; when a city is not something you just walk through, but instead explore, it opens up secret little parts of itself that the sedentary observer may miss.

Because of humanities reliance and love affair with shelter I've found that a certain anthropomorphic quality is given to buildings and spaces that allows the viewer to empathize with the locations I present. I generally focus on what people would consider “backgrounds”. I choose not to fill the locations that I photograph with people because I am more interested in the concept that an empty room may be filled with an emotion even though it is empty. The ability for non-living things such as the interaction of light or the placement of an object to create a spatial quality that affects the feelings of people is something I am fascinated by.

-Kai Mushens

Artist's CV (PDF)