Register Tuesday | June 22 | 2021

In the Absence of Paradise

A photo essay.

Jeff Bierk is a self-taught, multi-disciplinary artist working with photography, sculpture, video and paint. Originally from Peterborough, he spent the majority of his teens and twenties lost to the opiate epidemic, addicted to OxyContin. He currently works as a salesperson at Downtown Camera, one of Toronto’s last camera stores, and is deeply committed to his community in downtown east Toronto. He is a founding member and organizer with Toronto’s Encampment Support Network, or ESN. Bierk’s work, which has been exhibited nationally, engages themes of grief, addiction, homelessness, and settler-colonial constructs of beauty and masculinity. He is predominantly known for his portraiture, and his images contend with serious questions about the ethics of street photography. Bierk has developed a practice of collaborative photography; he and his collaborators disrupt the formal definition and economics of photojournalism and problematize the idea of the photographer as sole author of the photograph.