By Noor Khwaja
VANCOUVER – The Contemporary Art Gallery’s exhibition, The Blue Hour, opens to the public from April 6 until June 24 as the headliner for the annual Capture Photography Festival. This exhibition features five different artists who each use photography in their own way to complicate the imagined timeline of the photographic image. While each individual artist’s work speaks outwardly to larger political, environmental, and visual dilemmas, their combined presentations allow them to challenge our definitions of the characteristics of photography.
Speaking with the show’s curator, Kimberly Phillips, it is clear that the intent behind The Blue Hour is to spark a conversation.
“When something starts to kind of trouble our perceptions about a medium or a discipline or an object, that’s when I tend to become excited,” Phillips explains. This exhibition does just that. Our daily interactions with photography allow us to “presume we have control,” and think of photography “as something that brings clarity, that locks a moment down, and that is evidence of something that happened.” The exhibition attempts to skew this perception and invites us to view the photograph as “the way the world reveals itself to us, not an index of the world,” especially in relation to time. Photographs do not have to reveal a moment in the past, but rather can interrupt an idea of the present and the future as well.
An example of this concept is demonstrated in the politically inclined work of contributing artist Joi T. Arcand. Arcand is a young artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in central Saskatchewan, and her thought-provoking work has acted as a propellant for Phillips’ curation. In her photographs, Arcand adds to the discussion of the “invisibility of Indigeneity” by replacing the language of large signage with Cree instead of English. This replacement not only complicates the past, but also adds to the perception of the present and the future in relation to the erasure of Indigenous presence. In this way, the photograph moves beyond the captured moment and into an unidentified timeline.
The title of the exhibition, The Blue Hour, is drawn from the writings of contributing artist Colin Miner, and helps to introduce the repeated interruptions of time in the work of the displayed artists. Phillips explains that the term technically references “a time of day at twilight, where it’s not quite day and it’s not quite night.” You can’t tell “if time is moving ahead or backwards. It’s a moment where time is suspended.” This ambiguity in our often linear ideas of time is what the exhibition hopes to create.
The Blue Hour runs from April 6-June 24 at the Contemporary Art Gallery as part of Capture Photography Festival.