Walter Segers emigrated from Belgium in 1993 and currently lives and works in Toronto. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in 2008 with distinction and received OCADU’s prestigious M.C. McCain Post Graduate Photography Residency in 2009 and he was an artist in residence at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA) through Akin studio programming in 2019. Segers has exhibited his photo-based works at Spin, Gallery Thirteen Thirteen, Lonsdale, The John B. Aird Gallery, Propeller, The Window Gallery YYZ, P|M Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art and the Gladstone art hotel in Toronto. In Ontario he exhibited at Open Studio at Cambrian College in Sudbury, FHM in Cambridge, Markham Museum and Lilliput Gallery in London, ON. His work has been shown internationally at Leslie Lohman Annex Gallery in NYC, Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, Peter Deckers in Belgium, Galerie AMU in Prague and Galerie 12 in Zlín in the Czech Republic. Segers’ work is published in ArtWindsor, muse magazine (Canadian Museums Association) as well as the online magazines Wondereur, Frank by The Genteel, and Pixie & Rotter. His photo-based works explore issues surrounding gender, sexuality, immigration, belonging and identity.
Eighty from the series SOLITAIRE, 2011-ongoing - Giclée Prints by #waltersegers
Walter Segers has produced a suite of photographs dealing with identity, isolation, and belonging. Over several years, he has photographed a person, sitting or standing alone in places such as theatres, schools, places of worship and city parks where one would usually find gatherings. Although the solitary subject is placed in familiar surroundings, they face an immensity of space devoid of others. These scenes are a critical reflection on our need for social interaction, where the contemporary protocols around “social distancing” are related to the physical isolation and empty spaces in complex ways given the virtual world of Instagram, video games and social media. These images raise critical questions about the nature of our connected world, and the complex ways individuals experience loneliness, isolation, and seclusion within a regulated response to a life-endangering pandemic.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic the artist was compelled to depict a world without physical interaction. This social experiment involving lock downs and state emergency responses have a tremendous effect on mental health. It is harder on the most vulnerable, including the marginalized. Individuals face massive changes to everyday routines. Daily habits and rituals that profoundly define human existence have been upended. The potential for debilitating forms of anxiety and depression for many is real. These images raise disturbing questions about the nature of democracy and the limits it faces under and global health emergency where authoritarian measures bring involuntary restrictions on fundamental forms of democratic belonging. The artist’s ongoing body of work has gained a new relevancy during the COVID-19 pandemic . While each image evokes a thoughtful response on its own, seen together in this series it has an eerie power to inform a vital sense of what’s at stake as we face the contemporary global health emergency.