Thilde Jensen: Canaries

Thilde Jensen–Canaries
March 22 – May 27, 2011
Reception: April 7, 5–7pm
Light Work Hallway Gallery

Light Work is pleased to announce the exhibition Canary, an exhibition of photographs by Thilde Jensen. The images in this exhibition are a personal account of the life Jensen has lived with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and the people she has met who suffer the same condition.

Jensen, born in Denmark, moved to New York City in 1997 to study photography after an early exploration into film making. Six years later her life and career as a documentary and editorial photographer were cut short by a sudden development of severe MCS. The urban life she had previously navigated with ease transformed into a toxic war zone. Her immune system crashed, forcing her into a survivalist journey, unraveling the comfort and construct of her previous life. The ensuing years were a lesson in basic survival—camping in the woods and wearing a respirator when entering supermarkets, doctors’ offices, and banks.

To her surprise an otherwise invisible subculture of people emerged who shared this isolated existence. Photographing became a medium for sanity and meaning in this hyper-sensitive dimension of reality. Her photographs are a personal account of life on the edge of modern civilization as one of the human canaries, the first casualties to a ubiquitous synthetic chemical culture.

Since World War II the production and use of synthetic chemicals has exploded. During the course of an average day, people come into contact with a host of chemicals. Just walking into a supermarket one might be breathing as many as 20,000 different synthetic compounds. As a result of the prevalence of these synthetic chemicals, it is believed that more than 10 million Americans have developed MCS.  Many people with MCS are forced to live in remote areas in tents, cars, or retro-fitted trailers, away from dangers of neighbors’ chemical use. Others are prisoners of their homes, with advanced air filter systems to keep outside air from contaminating their breathing space.

Gallery hours for this exhibition is Sunday to Friday, 10am–6pm, and by appointment. To schedule an appointment, please call 315-443-1300. Both the exhibition and reception are free and open to the public. Paid parking is available in Booth Parking Garage.

Light Work invites groups and individuals to schedule tours and gallery talks of the exhibition and facility. Light Work is a non-profit, artist-run organization dedicated to the support of artists working in photography and electronic media. Light Work is a member of CMAC, the Coalition of Museum and Art Centers at Syracuse University.

For more information, please contact Jessica Reed at Light Work, 315-443-1300 or

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