Roy Arden’s Fragments is a suite of intimate colour photographs produced between 1981 and 1985 in Vancouver, Paris, Geneva, and Berlin. Arden was twenty-four years old in 1981 and Fragments was his first body of mature work, started in his last year as a student at what was then Emily Carr College of Art. Arden has said that he was looking for “a mode of photography that could function as a lyrical but realist poetry.”
Fragments is largely composed of portraits or figure studies, presented alongside details of urban texture, including natural phenomena. Arden chose to work with a vintage twin-lens Rolleiflex, preferring the larger negative and the slower operation of this camera over the speed and ease of a 35 mm camera. The tenor of Fragments is essentially melancholic; as the artist explains, “I was looking for that time and space that means-end rationality had overlooked.” In these photos the liquid texture of the Ektachrome film is wilfully exploited. Objects are drawn out of darkness by the light, which is often harsh or cruel, and a shallow depth-of-field is recurrently employed in the service of a poetics of appearance.