The Hero of Heroines

By Butler, Margot Leigh | Mosaic (Winnipeg), December 2004 | Go to article overview

The Hero of Heroines


Butler, Margot Leigh, Mosaic (Winnipeg)


By way of "figuration," "implicatedness," and other interdisciplinary concepts, this essay contextualizes and critiques Lincoln Clarkes's acclaimed book of photographs of unnamed women pictured as heroin addicts on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, where many women are missing and murdered.

**********

Having one's photograph taken and displayed will not cure a heroin
addiction; it does, however, encourage people to remember that addicts
are not nameless outcasts, and that we all have a responsibility to
recognize their struggle.--Barbara Hodgson, "Foreword," Heroines:
Photographs

Printed on the cover of Heroines: Photographs by Lincoln Clarkes is a photograph of a blonde figure leaning in the doorway of a seedy cafe (Illus. 1). Her arms are open, her gaze is upon us, the door is open. Captions come to mind: "Welcome to my world," "Take me I'm yours," "She's asking for it," "Women who can't be raped," "Prostitute," "Drug Addict." Readers opening the book, passing through her open door, enter the world which Clarkes makes through his photographs of women he pictures as "heroines": women heroin addicts who live on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

How does she look to you? In this photograph, and in the other unseen photos referred to in this essay, what culturally meaningful signs is Lincoln Clarkes mobilizing? (Signs: seedy cafe; inviting woman; cardigan pushed off bare shoulders; black bra straps; lace halter top; tie dangling between thighs; bare belly; thin; stoned.) Is it meant to look like she is selling sex to get money for drugs she is addicted to; as if she is implicating herself? She is represented corroborating--sexualized, objectified, com-modified, a spectacle. ("The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images" [Debord n.p.; emph. mine].) Is she meant to look like she is in "survival sex trade work," which means that for her, then, a pimp, a drug habit, or extreme poverty leaves her with no other option (Gardner)? Still, in a shutter's moment, she's set in perpetuity. Fixed.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In her Foreword, quoted above, Barbara Hodgson encourages people to remember that "addicts are not nameless outcasts" (xiv). Looking through Heroines for the photographed woman's name, I find a "List of Photographs" ordered by page number or photograph number, by date and location. She is "Cover: July 3, 2001|King's Cafe, 350 Powell Street." None of the book's authors explains why the women photographed are nameless in Heroines. If they requested anonymity, if this is for their protection, why not say so? Why not use assumed names?

Of the 112 photographs in Heroines, only three women are named in the essays: Leah, who Clarkes says died of a drug overdose (x); Sheila Egan ("missing") (Allen 125); and Patricia Johnson ("missing and presumed dead," Dietrich-Campbell 111). Robert "Willy" Pickton has since been charged with the murders of Patricia Johnson and fifteen other women. "Five of the women whose remains would ultimately be found on the farm" are pictured in Heroines, states Seattle writer Charles Mudede in a tell-all feature article titled "Death Farm: The Geography of Pig Farmer Robert Pickton, the Man Suspected of Having Killed Over 60 Vancouver, BC, Sex Workers."

Searching for more names of women Clarkes has pictured as "heroines," I begin to notice that the women's words are absent too, that there are no statements by the women Lincoln Clarkes has photographed. Women missing names, missing words, missing women on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

          The thing she got most from me, next to money and a few tears,
          was time.
          And I enjoyed every minute of it.--Clarkes, x

In his introductory remarks, titled "Leah," Lincoln Clarkes uses this "film noir" tone to tell us his version of Leah's story. This is how he represents his relation to her: a femme fatale.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Hero of Heroines
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.