Heroines Revisited is a follow-up volume to the original Heroines: Photographs by Lincoln Clarkes that was released by Anvil in 2002. This new edition features over 200 portraits accompanied by three new critical essays that contextualize the five-year photo project and the controversial body of work, as well as an interview with the artist.
In the late 1990s, photographer Lincoln Clarkes focused his lens on the marginalized, drug-addicted women living and working on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, capturing the dire circumstances that they endured. These indelible and haunting portraits have generated national and international debate. Many of the photographs in this newly curated collection have never been published before.
The project and the photographs garnered extensive media attention, which instigated immediate and profound impacts on the local community, social policies, and criminal investigations regarding Vancouver’s missing women.
University of Western Ontario professor Kelly Wood writing in Philosophy of Photography stated, “Heroines forced viewers and respondents to take sides in an uneasy ethical dialogue that does not acknowledge the series’ uncanny ability to perform against viewers’ expectations of certain visual categories and discusses how these expectations might preclude photography’s ability to enact or incite political change.”
It is nearly twenty years since the first Heroines volume was published and the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood remains plagued by the same pressing social problems: gentrification, displacement, drug addiction, homelessness, violence against women, and the lack of affordable housing.
Heroines Revisited makes a vital contribution to the ongoing discourse.
The photographs are accompanied by three critical essays, from Kelly Wood, photographer and Associate Professor at Western University in the Department of Visual Arts; Paul Ugor, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, and Melora Koepke, award-winning journalist and broadcaster who currently teaches in the Geography department at Simon Fraser University. The volume concludes with an interview between the artist and Theresa Norris.
The artist is donating all royalties from the sale of this book to the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver, a charity that supports vulnerable women and children at risk, involved in or impacted by the justice system.
“As I moved through this photo essay book, I paused for a few minutes with each woman, in deep consideration, something few of us do when walking outside near anyone in real life. The first thing I did was stare back into her eyes if she happened to make eye contact with the camera. It was like a jarring power move, her open, intimate invitation as if she was personally daring me to delve deeper into the unreachable hell she was so accustomed to. … However in each photo, whatever the circumstance may have been, the woman owned that page, sometimes two pages. The photoshoot may have taken a few minutes, but in that time, her story, her life, unfiltered, non-airbrushed, filled a frame completely with her essence.”
— Mala Rai, The Miramichi Reader
“The first iteration of Heroines generated considerable discussion and controversy. In a neighbourhood used to being scrutinized, blamed, pitied, studied, and gossiped about, at first blush it may seem like just more Downtown Eastside “poverty porn” that accomplishes nothing except to reinforce harmful stereotypes. Heroines isn’t that. The accompanying essays make that clear, as do the photographs themselves.”
— Lani Russwurm, The British Columbia Review
Lincoln Clarkes was born in Toronto to parents from Winnipeg. He arrived in British Columbia in his late teens after travelling around North America. Originally a designer/painter, he dropped out of art school and taught himself photography. Specializing in fashion and portraiture, he lived and worked for a time in London and Paris. His work comprises decades of exhibitions, music, and magazine assignments. Portraits include Deborah Harry, Oliver Stone, Helmut Newton, Patti Smith, Noam Chomsky and Vivienne Westwood. The award-winning documentary Heroines was produced for Bravo and the Women’s Television Network and opened the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival in 2002. Clarkes is also the subject of Knowledge Network’s documentary, Snapshots. Books include Heroines (Anvil, 2002), which won the 2003 Vancouver Book Award; Views (Northern Electric, 2006); and Cyclists (Quattro, 2013) and Heroines Revisited (Anvil 2021). In 2017 art collector Bob Rennie acquired hundreds of Clarkes’ photographs and archive for an upcoming museum exhibition. Clarkes has children and grandchildren. He resides with his wife in British Columbia and England.