Fall Season Launch: 15 September 2016
Curated by Carol Payne and Sandra Dyck
Produced by Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has long been acclaimed for documentary, animated and feature films, which are among Canada’s iconic cultural products and exports. But few Canadians know that during a pivotal period in the country’s history—the mid-twentieth century—the NFB also functioned as the country’s official photographer.
Mandated by the federal government to promote the nation, the NFB’s Still Photography Division produced an “official” portrait of Canadian society. The Division commissioned its photographers to travel across the country, where they shot approximately 250,000 images of people, places, work, leisure, and cultural activities. Millions of Canadians as well as international audiences saw these photographs reproduced in newspapers, magazines, books, filmstrips, and exhibitions. The Other NFB looks at the how this agency imagined Canada and Canadian identity, what role photographs played in that imagining, and how the NFB’s photographic archive was—and continues to be—used.
Image: Chris Lund (Canadian, 1923-1983), Examining new arrivals in Immigration Examination Hall, Pier 21, Halifax, March 1952. Contemporary print from vintage negative. National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada PA-111579
Image: Unknown photographer, Veronica Foster, an employee of John Inglis Co. Ltd. and known as “The Bren Gun Girl” posing with a finished Bren gun in the John Inglis Co. Ltd. Bren gun plant, Toronto, 10 May 1941, Contemporary print from vintage negative, National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada e000760453