The Blue Hour

Writing in 1857, only a few short decades after the “invention” of photography, the art historian and critic Elizabeth Eastlake describes the photographic image as one that approaches us from the future and arrives in the present. While referring to the new technologies in chemical photography at the time, Eastlake’s comment might also be interpreted more portentously, as critical theorist Kaja Silverman suggests in The Miracle of Analogy: The History of Photography, Part I, as an invitation to upend canonical readings of photographs, which emphasize their simultaneous demonstration of “this-has-been” and “this-is-no-more.” The presumption that what we see when we look at a photograph is unalterable, Silverman suggests, “contributes to the political despair that afflicts so many of us today: our sense that the future is ‘all used up.’” Instead, she posits, we should consider photography as “the world’s primary way of revealing itself to us – of demonstrating that it exists, and that it will forever exceed us.”

Here, the photograph becomes a tool with speculative potential, rather than one with simply the power to memorialize. The Blue Hour extends from this premise to rethink our assumptions about the photograph’s relationship to time. Making reference to the brief period of twilight at dawn and dusk when temporal linearity appears to momentarily hover in a state of suspension, the exhibition presents works by five Canadian and international artists – Joi T. Arcand, Kapwani Kiwanga, Colin Miner, Grace Ndiritu, and Kara Uzelman – that collectively act as a proposition to consider the futurity of the photographic image. We might understand this “blue hour” as analogous to the photographic event, whether political, geological, cosmological or philosophical, which as literary theorist Eduardo Cadava has claimed, “interrupts the present; […] occurs between the present and itself, between the movement of time and itself.”

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