‘Anyone can be Canadian’: British photographer is part of his own pictures celebrating Canadian diversity
What does it mean to be Canadian? And how does one define Canadian identity? To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, British photographer Rip Hopkins is creating a series of 150 photographs of Canadians across the whole spectrum of society, from the locals to immigrants and refugees.
And he’s exploring those identity questions in a fun and creative way: inserting himself in his own photos, playing a live version of “Where’s Waldo” as he poses with his own subjects in his latest project, Canada Canada.
To Hopkins, the decision to make himself part of his photographs isn’t mere vanity on the photographer’s part, but a statement: Canadian culture and society is so inviting that people of all heritages and backgrounds can live together.
“I do that just to show that anyone can be Canadian…assimilation into Canadian society is so easy if you compare it to Europe,” he says on cbc.ca.
The Belgium-based photographer can be seen in plain sight on some of his photos – such as one where he poses with Msgr Daniel Berniquez at Ottawa’s Notre-Dame cathedral. On other photos, he’s not so visible: try to spot him practicing yoga in Parliament Hill, or posing with members of the Ottawa Police Service. He’s also donned various outfits to match his subjects, such as his photo with Indigenous people at Victoria Island.
For Hopkins, Canadian identity is a mixture of various heritage and backgrounds, and it provides people with a chance to reinvent themselves when they come to Canada.
“When people arrive here in Canada, they’re not a minority, because they become Canadians and they all sort of mix together,” he says.
“You can always re-invent yourself when you come here…You can have a new life,” he adds.
Commissioned by the French Embassy and the British High Commission, Hopkins’ special exhibit will be on display at the Ottawa Art Gallery Annex at Ottawa City Hall from April 28 to June 11, 2017.
The opening reception will be held on April 27, 2017 at 7pm.