Kristan Klimczak (b.1980) is a self-taught photographer born from Toronto, Ontario. In addition to her photographic works, she has a background in theatre design and works primarily as a support worker. Kristen is predominantly a black and white photographer, with a mysterious and whimsical approach to documentary photography. Her most recent project, “You Lucky People” looks at the dying days of an iconic Toronto discount store and has led her to publish her first book.
YOU LUCKY PEOPLE
Honest Ed’s was a Toronto landmark and one of the most iconic characters of the city from another time. Filled with hand-painted signs and discounted houseware, clothing, foods, a haberdashery, tires, electronics, you name it. It was a dying breed of independent bargain superstores, born from the boom shift of the post-war economy. It was a place that expressed charm, eccentricity, and tradition long after its owner had passed away and the city had seemingly moved on. Every Christmas, without fail, the store would gift turkeys and fruit cakes for the thousands who lined up around the block.
Kristan began taking photos in May 2016 and continued until it was an empty lot in Dec 2016, the store was then demolished by February 2018. The project began when she walked in one Sunday with the plan that it would be a good-bye tour. She hadn’t been in some years nor had been that affected by the news of its sale and plan for demolition until encountering it for what she thought was the final time. It was a classic “you don’t miss your water until the well runs dry” situation.
“This place was so unique, so important to the city, so full of history. It had this strange disarming way about it, a way of making a person feel at home and like they belonged and it was a discount store. I walked through. I saw people around the place still in awe and interacting with it in lovely ways and it was dying. I guess I wanted to mourn it fully, I wanted to spend as much time with it as could before it would be gone. I wanted to archive how it felt to lose the place.
Essentially, it is a work about being with something/someone at the end of its life and discovering everything that comes with that. The introspection and feelings of confusion, nostalgia, hopelessness, loneliness, denial, impending loss, etc…and how those feelings build and change as one comes to terms with what is happening. I assume that there are places like this for everyone, and the destruction of them has been gaining speed in recent years, with homogenization and what has been termed hyper-gentrification. Crystallizing the sadness is my way of pushing back.”
To view more of Kristan’s work, please visit her website.