These photographs were taken while I was stuck in Canada during the pandemic. I went at the beginning March and made it back to Belgium (where I live) in early May. I initially went to Canada to learn and document more about my heritage. My father was born into a Hutterite colony (a religious community) in Manitoba. I had taken time off and planned on staying for 3 weeks. Although my mom had warned me against going to Canada in March and the very long and boring drive to the Colony, I was very insistent about going that specific month. However, my plans quickly changed once I arrived. The colony where my father was born, is very strict and started having doubts about my arrival (they are against photography) and with the pandemic, things just made it so I couldn’t go anymore. I was very disappointed to say the least, but I still felt grateful to be there; I hadn’t been in Canada for 5 years.
My dad is nature fanatic and loves the mountains, but for some reason its beauty never seemed to resonate with me. For my birthday my dad decided to take me on a drive to a lake, which left me much more in awe with the drive than the actual lake. All of a sudden, everything just clicked. The fog and the vast emptiness of the land held so much beauty and sadness that it finally resonated with me. My flight got cancelled and the soonest I could book a flight was in May. Rather than feel down, I decided to take advantage of my situation. Almost every day we drove around the Albertan province. Those long drives made me feel like I was transported to a different era. Everything was so open and vast. It came across as empty, but it wasn’t. I felt a richness and heaviness; as if so much was buried deep into the soil, but never got the chance to thrive. So much of the land looked deserted, and there were so many traces of abandonment. I felt it represented the pursuit of my whole trip. The history I was hoping to learn more about, ended up being discovered in the land.
While the whole world was worried about the pandemic, I found solace in the Prairies. Some of the scenery was very apocalyptic with so many ghost towns and abandoned farming towns. I had never seen anything like it before. It felt like time could sit still for a while, and I could shuffle between present day and back to some strange old time where the worries of today had no place of being. Even though a lot of the scenery doesn’t inspire beauty, I felt at peace, and to me there is nothing more beautiful than that.
Annemiek Hofer is a photographer based in Belgium. Her work consists of creating visual poetry. She uses images to narrate a feeling, an atmosphere, a fleeting moment rather than a story.
She recently finished photography school and is focusing on discovering the world through a new lens and finding her path with the help of photography and film making.