This project takes the site of Edmonton’s Charles Camsell Hospital as its object, photographing the site from the same co-ordinates once a week for one year and animating the results.
The Camsell, as it is is known locally, is a semiotically rich site. Originally opened as a tuberculosis hospital in 1946 by what was then called the Department of Indian and Eskimo Affairs, The Charles Camsell Indian Hospital became a general treatment in the 1970s, and was transfered to provincial jurisdiction in 1980. The hospital was closed in 1996 and now stands as an iconic ruin, simultaneously a crumbling remnant of both 20th century government policy regarding First Nations peoples, and the attenuation of Canada’s state-funded health care system.
Today, the site is owned by popular local developer and architect Gene Dub. The promise of the site’s redevelopment and gentrification has captivated and eluded the city for some 10 years already, with no outward sign of “progress.” In this way, the site stands in for redevelopment, the cosmopolitan, and re-investment in the core — Edmonton’s own creative class star reanimating the eviscerated core of a sprawling western city.
This project will visually track the disintegration of the site over time, as prairie grasses, winter snows, and other forces of nature slowly erode the concrete structures, the walkways and roadways. At the same time, however, it is possible that the “promise” of the site’s redevelopment will begin to be visible over the course of the project, and that at a certain point the site will move from a logic of disintegration into one of integration: becoming again a part of the community and the economy.
Ironically, Charles Camsell himself was a map-maker and founded the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Method: One photograph per week for one year from the identical perspective.
Scope: Small-scale discrete project. Has the potential to expand and offer more historical context to the site as a foundation for the animation. Also can potentially move into the future and extend beyond one year.
Platform: Standard Website
Authorship: Maureen Engel — with collaboration of Joyce Yu