The Lives of Documents—Photography as Project

Tracy Valcourt
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
May 3, 2023 – March 3, 2024
Tokuko UshiodaThe artist in her studio.
Photo: Bas Princen
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
May 3, 2023 – March 3, 2024
[En anglais]

The first exhibition that profoundly affected the way that I saw the world was a headliner featuring Magritte. I remember being wide-eyed before the Magrittian palette of blues, the Rückenfiguren facing into the pale oceanic abysses, and the anti-logic exercises of les mots et les images. I did not know it then, as harbingers of the future are often best appreciated in hindsight, but these features all portended important directions my life would take. The Magritte exhibition has stayed with me in a way that I can put my finger on; it was a kind of developmental milestone for me as an artist and a thinker because it represented a radical pictorial perspective.

Surely, other shows between then and now have influenced my ways of seeing—perhaps, in some way, that has been so for each one I have visited. However, I can unequivocally qualify The Lives of Documents—Photography as Project, on now at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, as one of those “view-changing” exhibitions that will remain with me. Curated by Bas Princen and Stefano Graziani and envisaged as the beginning of a decade-long, institution-wide research project conceived by CCA director Giovanna Borasi, The Lives of Documents draws attention to the CCA’s impressive photographic archives in an exhibition featuring a selection of international photographers. Supporting the works on display are textual timelines that chart the life of each project, concise biographies contextualizing the artists’ practices, oral histories of some of the photographers in cinematographic form, and a forthcoming publication.

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