Developing Historical Negatives

Deanna Bowen, Still from The Promised Land, 28:23 minutes, 16mm transferred to video, black and white, 2019. Originally from The Promised Land from “Heritage”, CBC Broadcasting Corporation, 1962.

Developing Historical Negatives

Deanna Bowen, Morris Lum, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, Krista Belle Stewart, Hajra Waheed

Exhibition Dates: May 3 – June 1, 2019
Opening Reception: May 3, 6 – 8PM
Brunch Talk: May 4, 12 – 2PM
Reading Group: May 25, 1-3pm

Curated by Gabrielle Moser

Developing Historical Negatives examines the strategies artists use to harness the affective dimensions of the colonial photographic archive. Probing histories of migration and assimilation, and stories of resistance, fugitivity, and escape, the works commissioned for this exhibition use photography’s imaginative potential to illuminate difficult histories, and to question how images can act as tools of knowledge transfer between generations.

Taking its title from the work of colonial anthropologist Ann Laura Stoler, the exhibition reorients attention away from the glossy, state-sanctioned photographs of “official” histories to the space of photographic production—the darkroom—where inverted, grainy impressions reveal the tenuous grounds of how histories are formed. In these new works incorporating collage, digital manipulation, reenactment, and translation, Canadian artists Deanna Bowen (Toronto), Morris Lum (Toronto), Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn (Stockholm), Krista Belle Stewart (Vancouver/Berlin), and Hajra Waheed (Montreal) interweave family narratives with state histories to picture transnational experiences of belonging and unbelonging, sovereignty and unfreedom. Importantly, these artists’ works do not seek to insert missing narratives into the historical record, but to expose the presence of racialized subjects who were always and already there, waiting to be “developed” into public sight.

Presented in partnership with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, and in dialogue with An Archive, But Not An Atlas curated by Liz Ikiriko at Critical Distance Centre for Curators.

Reading Group in conjunction with An Archive, But Not An Atlas, curated by Liz Ikiriko at Critical Distance Centre for Curators: Saturday, May 18th, 1-3 pm at Gallery 44 and Saturday, May 25th, 1-3 pm at Critical Distance.

Brunch talk with Gabrielle Moser and Deanna Bowen, Morris Lum, Jacqueline Hóang Nguyễn and Hajra Waheed will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019, 12-2pm. This event will be held in The Commons, 4th Floor, 401 Richmond Street West.

Adjacent workshop with Gabrielle Moser:


6:00PM TO 9:00PM
50.00 CAD / 40.00 CAD (members)

Photographic archives are unusual spaces where knowledge is ordered and histories are narrated. While many artists and writers work with archival materials, few of us have any formal training in information sciences or archival research. This workshop aims to develop a glossary of terms for working in the archive, integrating ideas taken from readings, case studies from local archives, and examples from contemporary photographic practice. Participants are encouraged to bring in-progress work and research questions to workshop with the group and as we collectively consider the strategies—both practical and theoretical—that we can deploy when engaging with archival materials.

Morris Lum, PA-1599-114-30, 2019, Roast duck on sale in Chinatown, Calgary, Alberta, Jan 11, 1969, from the series “Subtle Gestures” (2017-18). Archival Pigment Print, 30 inches by 30 inches, Original Image courtesy of the Glenbow Museum and the Calgary Herald

Gallery 44 is open Tuesday to Saturday 11AM to 5PM | Free admission
Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography is a charitable, non-profit, artist-run centre committed to supporting multi-faceted approaches to photography and lens-based media. Founded in 1979 to establish a supportive environment for the development of artistic practice, Gallery 44’s mandate is to provide a context for meaningful reflection and dialogue on contemporary photography.

Gallery 44 is committed to programs that reflect the continuously changing definition of photography by presenting a wide range of practices that engage timely and critical explorations of the medium. Through exhibitions, public engagement, education programs and production facilities our objective is to explore the artistic, cultural, historic, social and political implications of the image in our ever-expanding visual world.

Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography
401 Richmond Street West, Suite 120
Toronto, Ontario M5V 3A8
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