Since 2007 Tony Fouhse has been obsessively going to the same corner in Ottawa to document a small society of crack addicts. Fouhse works with the cooperation and acceptance of the individuals he is photographing. His staged portraits, shot on medium and large format film cameras, are the result of collaborations between photographer and subject. By actively participating in the construction of the photographs, the subjects have some control over how their images are perceived, and how stereotypes about addicts are formed or broken.
Fouhse’s images are controversial; some believe he is working with the enemy, and wish the addicts on the corner would disappear. His portraits bring attention to a group of individuals that are usually ignored and rarely depicted positively in mainstream media. USER, Portraits of Crack Addicts allows the viewer to look into the eyes of the addicts, to look at their bodies, their skin, their gestures and their expressions. They ask questions about addiction, and about representation - especially about what kind of role the photographic portrait can play in our understanding of what it means to be human.