Community News

Reagan Kennedy responds to Edward Curtis

February 22nd, 2018

This is an excerpt from Reagan’s full response, which can be seen off of the lobby at the gallery.

[…]

It is important to consider that at the time of Curtis’ career Indigenous populations throughout the continent had already suffered the severe effects of colonialism. It is because of this that many believe there is some validity to Curtis’ claim to be photographing a peoples who were “vanishing”. However, this language has also served to promote ideas that Indigenous people do not exist, and often prevents non-Indigenous peoples from really seeing us. Curtis was also known for his techniques of editing his images, often removing signs of modern technologies from his Indigenous subjects to promote ideas of primitivism. Additionally, he was known for stealing sacred items from communities which he would then travel with and place on his subjects in other territories.

Outside of these controversial and problematic components of his work, many of us are still drawn to these images. I am drawn to Picking Blueberries because of these complexities, and because the image appears more candid than some of Curtis’ more obviously staged works. I feel a sense of calmness and humanity when I look at this photograph. Due to the effects of colonisation and colonial policies, many of us feel disconnected and deterritorialized from our communities and traditional ways of knowing. These ways of knowing, such as the berry harvest taking place in this image, reflect ways of knowing that strengthened and maintained our relationship to the land, to our families and communities. Some of us learned and still carry these ways of knowing, some of us are mourning the loss of these practices and are trying to learn.

By reflecting upon Picking Blueberries from the RMG Permanent Collection I hope visitors take the opportunity to revisit how we have been seen and unseen, but also how we have been disconnected and how we can reconnect.

-Reagan Kennedy

Related News

In recognition of Black Histories and Futures Month

Last year the RMG took time to discuss the many days and months of significance that are marked in Canada, and identify which ones were important to us as a team, to the communities we serve, and to partners and artists we have relationships with. That recognition will look different for each one – it […]

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery undergoes digital transformation

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery digitally transforms its operations with support from the Community Services Recovery Fund From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, community service organizations, including charities, non-profits and Indigenous governing bodies, across Canada have shown impressive stamina and creativity in their response to the diverse and increasingly challenging needs of their communities. The […]

National Day for Truth + Reconciliation – September 30, 2023

Canada is marking the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, established to honour the intention of the 80th Call to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report “to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the […]