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THE NEXT 7 DAYS:     EVENTS (19)     +     OPENINGS (8)     +     DEADLINES (7)     +     CLOSINGS (10)
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Unknown Photographer
Unidentified Young Man in Hat and Suspenders, c. 1850
Daguerreotype, 1/6 Plate (8,3 x 7 cm)
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Photo: NGC

Borders, territory, and migration:
Three themes shared by three new exhibitions now on view at the Canadian Photography Institute

  • Gold and Silver: Images and Illusions of the Gold Rush
    A new interpretation of a seminal, American-identity building event through exquisite historical images – until April 2, 2018

  • Frontera: Views of the U.S.-Mexico Border
    Eight photographic installations of the border between the United States and Mexico taken between 1997 and 2017 – until April 2, 2018

  • PhotoLab 3: Between Friends
    Canadian photographer Andrea Rutkauskas’ photos of the longest international border in the world – until February 16, 2018

Ottawa, November 9, 2017 – The Canadian Photography Institute (CPI) of the National Gallery of Canada presents three exhibitions, each exploring borders, territory, and migration: Gold and Silver: Images and Illusions of the Gold Rush; Frontera: Views of the U.S.-Mexico Border, and PhotoLab 3: Between Friends.

Gold and Silver: Images and illusions of the Gold Rush
Organized by the Canadian Photography Institute in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, this exhibition was made possible thanks to the gift of “The Origins of Photography” collection from the Archive of Modern Conflict. More than 150 images, most of them never exhibited before, tell a story of the hopes, dreams, and illusions of an entire generation of pioneers during North America’s two great gold rushes: the California gold rush of 1849, and the Klondike gold rush of 1896, which led to the establishment of the Yukon Territory.

In the second half of the 19th century, legions of prospectors left everything behind to set off in search of gold. As the 1850s dawned, the encounter between these new Argonauts and the daguerreotype, a silver-based process only recently invented and the first that was publicly available, was immediate and intense. Forty years later, photography followed the gold rush to the Yukon. The medium underwent a profound transformation in between.

While California’s boom-towns slowly faded to ghost towns in the 1870s, Daguerre’s mirror, now obsolete, made way for processes closer to the kind that would later emerge in the 20th century.

Two great moments in the history of photography came to pass: between the gold rush of 1848 that began in San Francisco and the 1896 gold rush that began in Dawson City, photography evolved from single images on metal to multiple images on glass or paper.

Whether on metal or paper, all of the images have gold in common.

“The fact that we are able to delight in these images today is thanks to the fact that back in their day they were given a gold bath, a metal more noble and stable than silver. For most taken in the 1850s, daguerreotypes present a crispness and exceptional depth, and were often enhanced with colour and touches of gold. The young Argonauts look back at us with shining eyes and seem so close. Photography was fresh and new back then, just like these Western adventurers,” commented the exhibition curator, Luce Lebart, Director of the Canadian Photography Institute and author of the exhibition’s companion book, Gold and Silver, co-published by the Canadian Photography Institute and RVB-BOOKS.

Frontera: Views of the U.S.-Mexico Border
Frontera, organized by the Canadian Photography Institute in collaboration with the FotoMexico festival, features eight photographic installations of the U.S.-Mexico border. Taken between 1997 and 2017, the images question the very notion of borders, attempt to define their limits, and explore how they are represented. Images by Mexicans Pablo Lopez Luz and Alejandro Cartagena echo others by Canadians Mark Ruwedel and Geoffrey James, Swiss-born Adrien Missika, American Kirsten Luce and German Daniel Schwarz.

The variety of images in this exhibition is complimented by the many ways they are presented - from accordion books, to projections, to wallpaper to images captured by drones flying over the border.

PhotoLab 3: Between Friends
On display until February 16, 2018, the third exhibition in CPI’s experimental space PhotoLab, features the work of young Winnipeg born, Calgary-based photographer Andreas Rutkauskas. He spent several years travelling, often on foot, photographing the Canada- United States border – the longest international border in the world. This work was inspired by and pays tribute to the book, Between friends/Entre amis, sponsored by the National Film Board of Canada and published in 1976 to commemorate the American bicentennial.

Designed and written by Luce Lebart with RVB-BOOKS, the 128 page publication traces the origins of daguerreotypes, featuring images from the 1849 California gold rush. Gold and Silver is a co-publication by the Canadian Photography Institute and RVB BOOKS. Copies are on sale in the Gallery’s Boutique and online for $40. The book is also distributed internationally by RVB-BOOKS.

Hours and admission
For information about the CPI’s hours and admission, visit

About the Canadian Photography Institute
To learn more about the CPI, visit:

About the National Gallery of Canada
To learn more about the Gallery, visit and follow us on Twitter @NatGalleryCan, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
To learn more about the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, visit and follow us on Twitter @NGC_Foundation

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For media only: To obtain images, more information, or plan an interview, please contact:

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada






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