The Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver is the last stop for Curator David Campany’s idiosyncratic show examining our complex relationship with dust. Selected photographs spanning almost 100 years have been carefully presented to evoke various emotions. The exhibition beautifully combines works by famous photographers such as Jeff Wall and John Divola alongside lesser-known and often anonymous images, such as the series of postcards of American dust storms.
The show largely reminds us of the fragility and temporality of any given situation, and one could be forgiven for believing that the show is a largely sombre affair (perhaps accentuated by the low lighting in the first room), but delve deeper and elements of humour and resilience will also become apparent. The exhibition also celebrates dust - it’s significance in forensic science for example is clearly documented, as is the discovery that the dust covering the surface of Mars is not altogether unfamiliar.
What is clear from this exhibition is the overriding message of significance. It is often easy to dismiss subject matter or trivialise it - particularly when dealing with something ordinary or commonplace. But give the dust time to settle and allow contemplation to prevail and this exhibition will not disappoint.
A Handful of Dust runs until April 28, 2019 with guided tours on Thursdays and Saturdays at 2pm. Admission is by donation.
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By Petra Giffard