Before Digital: Post-1970 Photography in Alberta

Curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette 

Before Digital: Post-1970 Photography in Alberta takes a selective look at the late  analogic period through the eyes, camera shutters and darkrooms of twenty-seven photographers working in the province. Featuring close to 80 works in (gelatin) silver print, C-print, Ektacolour, Cibachrome and other less common film products or  processes, this large survey also highlights the growth of fine art photography from the documentary to the more conceptual or photo-based art. Considered as well is the contribution made by certain post-secondary institutions, public art galleries and collections in the province.

Photo courtesy Elyse Bouvier

Featuring works by:


Jan 15 – March 16, 2019


Thursday January 17, 2019

Randall Adams
Shane Arsenault and Natalia Barberis
Dianne Bos
Douglas Clark
Diane Colwell
Don Corman
Douglas Curran
John Fukushima
Hubert Hohn
Dan Hudson
M.N. Hutchinson
Carol Johnston
Sima Khorrami

Ernie Kroeger
Don Mabie
Arthur Nishimura
Ingrid Plaudis
Garth Rankin
Craig Richards
Orest Semchishen
Colin Smith
Barbara Spohr
Ed Spiteri
Sandra Vida
George Webber
John Will

Presented in partnership with Contemporary Calgary and Illingworth Kerr Gallery (AUArts)


Images 1-18 courtesy Noel Begin
Images 19-28 courtesy Elyse Bouvier

Public Programs

Depth of Field: Practices in Contemporary Photography

Wednesday February 6, 2pm-7pm
Stanford Perrot Lecture Theatre (ACAD) Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Before Digital: Post 1970 Photography in Alberta, guest-curated by Mary-Beth Laviolette, this symposium will feature presentations and panel discussions with artists participating in the exhibition as well as regional artists utilizing photography in their practice.   

Continuity and Change within Photographymoderated by Mitch Kern
Panellists: Shane Arsenault and Natalia Barberis, M.N. Hutchinson, Dona Schwartz   Over two centuries the medium of photography has endured continuous change. You could say that when it comes to photography, continuity is change. At the same time, some things about photography have remained the same. This panel explores the territory between continuity and change within photography. In particular, what is the impact of recent change upon contemporary photography practice? Has social media and 24/7 connectivity significantly altered what it means to be a photographer in the early 21st century? What about the near future? Are we on the doorstep of something new? In the midst of a revolution? A crisis?  

Capturing Subjects, Exposing Communitymoderated by Ashley Scarlett
Panellists: Douglas Curran, Elmer Ghostkeeper, Leah Hennel, George Webber   In her canonical text, On Photography, Susan Sontag asserts that “photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it” (1973:3). While Sontag concerns herself primarily with photography’s indexical documentation of the visible world, photographic images also have the capacity to render the invisible intelligible, lending photographic certainty to the seemingly uncertain. This panel will explore photography’s capacity to expose, envision, construct and concretize the otherwise invisible parameters of community. Specifically, it will ask: What role does photography play in capturing, documenting and attesting to community? How might the photographic medium lend itself to exposing and framing community in particular ways? What are the ethical responsibilities of the photographer within this context? And, can photographs solicit meaningful social engagement and change?  

Not Boring – Landscapes, Places and Identitiesmoderated by Benedict Fullalove
Panellists: Diane Colwell, Tanya Harnett, Dan Hudson, Tyler Los-Jones   In his contribution to the important 1994 collection, Landscape and Power, WJT Mitchell proposes a series of theses on the genre, including the mischievous claim that “Landscape is boring. We must not say so.” This panel asks its participants to eschew silence and respond to Mitchell’s provocation. Specifically, the panel seeks to explore the complex relationships formed around and between landscapes, places and identities. What links landscape to place? How do they differ? In what sense do both intersect with broader questions of subjectivity and identity, not least in the contexts of Indigenous and Settler histories? And why is all of this (potentially!) not really boring at all?  

Reception – 7pm Gallery open until 9pm

Curator’s Tour of Before Digital: Post 1970 Photography in Alberta with Guest Curator Mary-Beth Laviolette
Saturday February 16, 11am

Curator Mary-Beth Laviolette will tour visitors through the exhibition to facilitate discussion about the works on display and answer questions.

Images 1-3, 12, 13, 15, 18, 19, 22 courtesy JYK Studios
Images 4-11, 16, 17, 20, 21, 23-15 courtesy Jeremy Pavka

All images courtesy Mitch Kern

All programs are free and open to the public

Public programming is presented in partnership with Exposure Photography Festival