Arctic Exposure: Photographs of Canada's North


May 3 to June 1, 2014

Organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

Curated by Sharona Adamowicz-Clements and Bonnie Rubenstein

Canadian identity is strongly tied to the North, yet impressions of this vast, remote, and desolate place have largely been formed through the viewing of photography. Nearly two hundred years have passed since photographs of the Arctic were first taken; a history marked by considerable cultural shifts and changes in image making and production technologies. Arctic Exposure: Photographs of Canada’s North brings together images made between 1881 and 2013, revealing an ongoing fascination with the peoples, places, and mythologies of the North. These visual documents reinforce the power of photographs to generate a compelling sense of empathy and reverence for a place that remains far from reach for most people.


Arctic Exposure is organized around two subthemes, the first of which focuses on the Inuit and features the work of historical photographers from the late nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries—both professional and amateur—including Major Lachlan T. Burwash, Robert J. Flaherty, and Richard Harrington. 

The second theme juxtaposes contemporary views of the Arctic by Donovan Wylie of Magnum Photos, Inuk photographer Jimmy Manning, and Canadian ethnographer Norman Hallendy. The works in this section focus on the landscape but allude to the human presence through images of manmade objects, buildings, and communities. Hallendy’s photographs of “inuksuit”, stone constructions made by the Inuit, are particularly arresting. Part of a 2009 donation to the McMichael of over 7,000 colour images, these photographs speak to the life and activities of the Inuit who inhabit Canada’s most remote and inhospitable environments. 

Arctic Exposure draws on works from the McMichael Archives, the Queen’s University Archives, the Collection of Neil David MacDonald, the Stephen Bulger Gallery, and private collections.


Arctic Exposure is complemented by Inuit Traditions, the McMichael’s permanent collection installation of drawings, prints, and sculptures, many of which are drawn from the collection of the historic West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, on long-term loan to the gallery since 1990. 



About Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival


CONTACT, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1997 and granted charitable status in 2011, is generously supported by Scotiabank, Nikon Canada, BMW Group Canada, La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, Torys LLP, Ernst & Young LLP, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, Vistek, Grolsch Premium Lager, Stratus Vineyards, Transcontinental PLM, 3M Canada, Four By Eight Signs, Beyond Digital Imaging, Giant Container Services, Toronto Image Works, The Gilder, Hotel Le Germain, The Gladstone Hotel, The Globe and Mail, The Grid, and BlogTO.

CONTACT gratefully acknowledges the support of Celebrate Ontario, Ontario Arts Council, the Government of Ontario, Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, the Hal Jackman Foundation, and all of our other funders.

CONTACT fosters and celebrates the art and profession of photography with an annual festival in May and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery. For more information:

Masthead Images Left to Right: Jimmy Manning (b.1951), Special Place, July, 2012, digital chromogenic print, Courtesy of the Artist;

Richard Harrington (1911–2005), Padlei, NV, 1950, platinum / palladium  print on watercolour pape, © Estate of Richard Harrington / Courtesy of Stephen Bulger Gallery, L2014.33.20; Norman Hallendy, born 1932, Inuksuapik - a beautiful inuksuk, Saatturittuq, southwest Baffin 1995
colour image from 35mm slide, Gift of Norman Hallendy, 2009, McMichael Canadian Art Collection Archives, ARC-NH2009.F1.5.19

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