An Insufficient Record: The photo-ethics of preserving Black Vancouver

May 20 – June 18, 2022
Conversation, Curator Talk, Exhibition

About the Program

An Insufficient Record: The photo-ethics of preserving Black Vancouver, curated by Nya Lewis, theorizes the afterlife of the City of Vancouver photographic archive concerning the history of insufficient representation of Black Vancouverites and their lives in public space. A conduit for dialogical and collaborative collecting methodologies, the exhibit intervenes with the archive, outlining a curatorial approach that identifies, contextualizes, and makes accessible reflections of the multiplicity of Blackness in Vancouver. Re-presenting and re-positioning 17 gelatin mugshots acquired from the City of Vancouver archive, An Insufficient Record malleablizes the varying vital relationships between the image and its object of representation, assessing the photographic constructions of race, the politics of human rights, identity formations, national narratives, and cultural memory. Juxtaposed within a new and speculatively valuable resource, the mugshots are presented with 50 portraits of Black and African self-identifying people, taken with clear subject autonomy, assembled from official municipal and provincial holdings, public arts and culture organizations, as well as special collections.

Challenging the insufficient depository of knowledge contributing to the historical trajectory of restricting representations of Blackness to caricature, ethnographic object, or criminal, the exhibit takes on a kind of cultural translation, examining the possibilities and structural limitations of transforming penal spectatorship to a participatory re-shaping and reading of the carceral images. An Insufficient Record exposes the strategic erasure of nuanced Black representation which enables the City of Vancouver’s insufficient fonds to exist without question or complication, speculating the role of curation and documentation in supporting collective movements beyond the public archive, visualizing and reinforcing Black personal, political, and social presence. The curatorial space making gesture imagines a system of photographic presentation and organization that engages Black Vancouver communities in the re-representation of their histories and responds to the demand to participate in national discourses of belonging, both to Canada’s past and present, readdressing historiographical challenges and their impact on archival record.

A curator's talk occurred on May 19, 2022 and a conversation between Nya Lewis and david george was held on May 27, 2022.


Nya Lewis


Accessibility Support: Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa
Accounting: Linda Gorrie
Administration: Meagan Kus
Archives: Dan Pon and Jessica Fletcher
Communications: Katrina Orlowski
Gallery Assistant: Hedy Wood
Grantwriting Support: Mary Ann Anderson
Installation/Preparator: Kay Slater
Photography: Dennis Ha
Programming: Vanessa Kwan and Whess Harman
Tech: Sebnem Ozpeta


2022.0520 ANI


grunt gallery (second location)
116-350 E. 2nd Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5T 4R8
Unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ/selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations
​​In copyright. For uses beyond Fair Dealing, research requests, corrections, takedown requests, or other inquiries, please contact grunt gallery:

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