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Organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography

JUNE 11 to SEPTEMBER 11, 2011

This exhibition explores how contemporary Aboriginal artists have used the portrait as a means of self-expression, in spite of its long problematic history for their peoples. “The portrait is a European convention which exerts control over the subject,” explains Andrea Kunard, co-curator. “In the past, Aboriginal people were often objectified for commercial purposes.

They were represented as a dying race doomed by the inexorable march of ‘civilization.’ Contrary to this portrayal, they have neither vanished nor died out; they survived.” This deeply reflective exhibition will showcase the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography’s significant collection of Indigenous artists as well as those drawn from the National Gallery of Canada and selected private collections. It combines portrait photographs and video installations by twelve artists ― KC Adams, Carl Beam, Dana Claxton, Thirza Cuthand, Rosalie Favell, Kent Monkman, David Neel, Shelley Niro, Arthur Renwick, Greg Staats, Jeff Thomas, and Bear Witness.

The exhibition engages a number of themes which are present in the work of contemporary Aboriginal artists. They challenge stereotypes, creating a new visual history, and are harbingers of a changing reality. Within these images which describe current existence, references to traditions, family, and community appear as a source of strength and grounding. Contemporary, social, and political issues within the Aboriginal communities are explored, such as sexuality, hybridity, and shifting socio-political dynamics.

The artists explore different approaches in both the art and medium for dealing with identity issues, and offer a glimpse of Aboriginality we do not often see reflected in our media-saturated society.

Dana Claxton
Daddy's Gotta New Ride, 2008
dye coupler print
127 x 157.7 x 5.3 cm (framed)
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Photo © NGC

Arthur Renwick
Jani, 2006
ink jet print
116 x 111 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Photo © NGC


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