Emergence from the Shadows
From sports logos to toys, to the Hollywood Western, popular culture has played a major role in creating and establishing stereotypes of the North American Indian. Through the lenses of historical anthropology and contemporary Aboriginal photography, Emergence from the Shadows looked at past and current perspectives on First Peoples, examining themes of community and continuity.
This exhibit, rich with metaphor and meaning, used shadow and light as major themes throughout. Projected images were used to suggest the ghost-like presence of ancestors, and to infer that images on film could never fully communicate the light or life of an individual. Shadows cast by the photographs themselves made reference to the souls of the subjects.
Works by aboriginal artists were placed opposite displays about the anthropologists who had studied their cultures, allowing the object to become the author. Anthropological photos were left unframed, sandwiched between plexiglass panels and raised from the wall like specimens, so that visitors might understand them as scientific in nature, rather than artistic. The influence of the ancestors was felt strongly in each work of art, as were themes of identity, archetype and stereotype. The exhibit posed questions and created juxtapositions between generations, allowing visitors to conclude that we are indeed more alike than different from those who came before.
Canadian Museum of Civilization [Canadian Museum of History], Gatineau, QC, 1999
Exhibit Space: 7,000 sq. ft.