SECRET GARDENS - JASON PENNER I was wandering through downtown Winnipeg one afternoon. This was in mid-July, 2009. I had already put several kilometers behind me when I heard the call for a cigarette. It came from a figure sitting on a bench in the shade. I told the old man I didn’t smoke. Without any pause, he cried out his awareness of the camera hanging from my neck, then beckoned me over. He showed me some of what was stuffed into the gym bag at his side, and I started to wonder. He wanted me to photograph him at my studio. I told him I didn’t have a studio, so he insisted that I come with him. He could always find that place; where one endures loneliness and age, displacement and loss. This was another world, where he would perform and create, where I would accompany him; in his feat of existence. I realized that a part of me echoed in his ways, despite our being worlds and generations removed. His burden, unfathomable, yet it was not in desperation that he found me, and then chose me. I accepted a place in his world. In creating this series—passing through the eight years that we’ve had together—I am trying to come to terms with experiences of aloneness, for they are unique and a part of the individual. Beyond prognosis, what remedy or campaign one might feel compelled toward, there is a life unfolding and it is sovereign. How are we a product of our relationships, our hopes and dreams, our time apart or without, and what happens to us as we pass in and out of these moments? From where do we pull, in finding ways to provide for ourselves?