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New exhibition explores how photography from the past impacts photos in the present
Joel Sternfeld, Canyon Country, California, June 1983 printed August 1987, Gift of Irwin Reichstein, Ottawa 1996 National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © Joel Sternfeld Photo: NGC.

OTTAWA.- The Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada presents a new exhibition that explores the evocative juxtaposition of works made more than a century apart. The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs, on view from May 4 to September 16, 2018, features the work of more than 100 artists, Henri Cartier Bresson, Edward Burtynsky, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Lisette Model. The photographs, some on display for the first time, reflect the human impulse to capture seen and unseen worlds.

“Photography is among the most transformative inventions of the Industrial Revolution,” said NGC Director Marc Mayer. “Both art and communication were changed forever by its advent. For the fifty years since 1967, what has now become the Canadian Photography Institute has been dedicated to the telling of that rich and complex story in all its wonder, as this exhibition so beautifully demonstrates.”

The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs makes evident the trajectory from the earliest days of the medium to the present day, a journey that witnesses remarkable shifts in the reading and creating of the photographic image. The exhibition reveals how photographers living in different time periods were influenced by their predecessors and explores the role of photographer as an instrument of storytelling.

The exhibition features a selection of 151 works, two albums and 25 projections by renowned photographers, such as Lynne Cohen, Harold Edgerton, Walker Evans, Isabelle Hayeur, Zhang Huan, Gustav LeGray, Arnaud Maggs, Lisette Model, Charles Nègre, Southworth & Hawes, William Henry Fox Talbot and Margaret Watkins, as well as major works by several contemporary African photographers, including Sammy Baloji and Zanele Muholi.

“It is a tribute to my predecessor and my fellow photography curators that the collection is so wide, so deep and so rich in content,” noted the curator of the exhibition and interim Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Canada, Ann Thomas. “Having to select under 200 works from a collection of 200,000 was the first challenge. The second was to organize the chosen images into a display that would be intelligible and inform our visitors about collecting photographs in a general way, while also offering insight into the image and its history.”

The collection began in 1967, when the Gallery started to “formally” collect works. Prior to this time, there was a less systematic approach. As such, the exhibition features photographic works collected between 1967 and 2017, when major contributors were collected in order to represent the changes taking place in the medium. In order to highlight the contrast of old and new, the exhibition has been organized in seven themes: Conversations in Time; The Art and Science of Invention; Exploring and Discovering; An Instrument of Detection; Advertising; Portraying; and Creating New Narratives.

Showcasing a variety of mediums – installations, video, photographs and film - the exhibition includes a diverse range of prints, from albumen silver, gelatin silver and palladium dye coupler to digital, inkjet, chromogenic, carbon, salted paper, azo dye, collotype, photolithograph, gum bichromate and platinum, as well as examples of the daguerreotype, photogravure, cyanotype, collotype, photolithograph, woodburytype and autochrome. The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs also exposes the scope of the use of mechanical aids, demonstrating that these 50 years were a period of incredible invention for photography.

The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs will be presented at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, from February 15 to May 26, 2019.

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