Post by Devin Nguyen. Ottawa-based freelance writer. Work can be found at devngu.tumblr.com.
The Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs has been open to the public at the National Gallery of Canada since May 4, 2018 and will remain open until September 16.
Obvious from the title, the exhibit features photography collected by the Canadian Photography Institute (CPI) from the past fifty years, which includes pieces from Canadian and international artists. Ann Thomas, the interim Chief Curator and curator of The Extended Moment, has been with the National Gallery for nearly forty years and has been a part of the procuring of many of the photographs on show.
The exhibit draws a line between the past, present and future of photography and deconstructs the way photography has impacted art, science and culture.
There are seven parts to the exhibit that, each in its own way, reveal the intrinsic sensibilities that are unique to the practice of photography, whether for the purposes of creating art, recording data, documenting moments in history, revealing self-identity, uncovering hidden truths or constructing narratives.
Millions of photographs are being taken and shared every day on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook changing our relationship with the medium. Even in the digital age, the exhibit is able to convey the power of photography in the way the medium reveals surreal perspectives in chunks of reality.
The collection is able to boast works by important pioneers of photography from the 19th-century as well as contemporary works by artists who are currently using the medium to promote environmental awareness, advocate for the rights of the oppressed and add new perspectives to the greater discourse. By placing photographs old and new side by side, the exhibit is able to show that photography—past, present and future—is in constant dialogue with itself as an art form, social resource and tool.
Some highlights include; “Pivot Irrigation/Suburb South of Yuma, Arizona, USA” (2011) by Edward Burtynsky, “ZaVa” (2014) by Zanele Muholi, “Church of the Nazarene” (1936) by Walker Evans, “To Raise the Level in a Fish Pond (Close Up)” (1997) by Zhang Huan and “A Fine Line: Arnaud #4” (2016) by Spring Hurlbut.
The exhibition is a part of the National Collection and is the same price as the regular admission ($15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $7 for students, free for children under 11). The National Gallery of Canada has free admission every Thursday from 5-8pm.